A teary farewell

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 4:49 PM ET

ST. JOHN'S, Nfld. -- When the last rock stopped moving, the crowd rose to its feet, every curler on the ice stood and cheered, and Colleen Jones burst into tears at the realization that it was over.

The greatest stretch of domination in Canadian curling history ended yesterday at Mile One Stadium, when a little-known skip from Moncton, N.B., named Sandy Comeau eliminated the four-time defending champion from Halifax in a Scott Tournament of Hearts tie-breaker.

Jones and her teammates Kim Kelly, Mary-Anne Arsenault and Nancy Delahunt will make way for a brand new champion this year after spending the last four years earning the respect and admiration of curlers and fans from coast to coast.

That respect came out in full measure yesterday when the crowd gave a two-minute standing ovation, when players from New Brunswick, Alberta and Ontario (who were still playing a tie-breaker of their own) stopped what they were doing to pay homage to a legend and when even the stoic Jones could barely cough out comments because of overwhelming emotion.

"We've just had an incredible run and none of us wanted it to be over," Jones said.

"I was just so sad it was over, and it was kind of hard to acknowledge that the crowd was acknowledging what we did. I was just so crushed. I didn't see (what the curlers were doing), but that's very nice."

Comeau was pegged as a bottom feeder by many prognosticators prior to the Canadian women's curling championship, but now she's a giant killer.

The diminutive skip, who went on to lose another tie-breaker to Jenn Hanna of Ontario, made a brilliant shot with her last rock in the 10th, coming through a port to make a takeout and score four, and won 9-4. If you are going to take out the defending world champion, that's the way to do it.

'GREAT JOB'

"Maybe that will be my mark," Comeau said. "I just looked (Jones) in the eye and said 'Great job.' Because she has done a wonderful job for curling."

While Jones stayed alive until yesterday, there was an underlying sense all week at the Scott that her time was coming to an end. The 45-year-old broadcaster was never exceptionally sharp, lost more than once when she had a chance to win with her last rock and couldn't get in the playoffs despite playing her last two round-robin games (both losses) against non-contenders Quebec and P.E.I.

"In the middle of the week we definitely had momentum," she said. "We were dynamite, and then we lost it, and that's a drag.

"You know these things do come to an end, but we just wanted to stay on top for as long as we could because you never know when the opportunity to get back here again will come."

And now that's the big question on everyone's mind.

Will this team ever be back at the Scott?

Don't bet on it.

Arsenault said earlier in the week she doubted the team would ever wear Nova Scotia colours again, and her teammates hinted at that yesterday as well.

They will play together in the Olympic trials in Halifax in December and then -- win or lose -- it's all up in the air.

"One bad finish doesn't finish a team, but it's a tough year next year because we have Olympic trials and the provincials are after that," Jones said. "If you don't get your Olympic trials spot, I don't know if you have the will in you to go for the fight again."

That sounds like it's unlikely the team will be back at the Scott next year, and after that they could just pack it in entirely.

"Because we thought we'd just win again, we haven't considered (calling it quits)," Kelly said. "So we'll have to put that on the agenda."

But there's still a chance that the team could come back and be a contender at plenty of future Scotts.

"Gut feeling? I hope so," said Delahunt.


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