Peers pay homage to curling icons

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:11 AM ET

ST. JOHN'S, Nfld. -- The pure reverence expressed toward Colleen Jones and her teammates yesterday at the Scott Tournament of Hearts came as no surprise to Joan McCusker. The three-time world champion and Olympic gold medallist, who now is an analyst for CBC, had some high praise for the Jones foursome yesterday, moments after the Halifax team's unprecedented string of dominance went up in smoke at Mile One Stadium.

"The most respect that I can pay is to say that those four women are role models," McCusker said of Jones, Kim Kelly, Mary-Anne Arsenault and Nancy Delahunt. "They made curling an art form. What Colleen's team did was brilliant, and their work ethic was incredible."

Jones won four straight national women's titles, a feat unequalled in Canadian curling, and has six titles to her credit overall.

She had a disappointing performance this week, going 6-5 in the round robin and losing a tie-breaker to little-known New Brunswick skip Sandy Comeau, but if the rest of the field was happy to see her go, they weren't saying it yesterday.

"I almost cried, to be honest with you," said Ontario's Jenn Hanna, one of the finest up-and-coming skips on the planet. "Colleen is a legend, a total legend."

Hanna and Alberta's Cathy King were embroiled in a tie-breaker of their own when the New Brunswick-Canada game ended, and members of both teams stopped what they were doing and clapped for a great fallen champion.

"I get choked up just talking about it," Hanna said. "But she deserves it, and we had no problems stopping and waiting for that because she definitely deserved that round of applause and that standing ovation."

King concurred.

"Just an amazing run," the Edmonton skip and 1998 Canadian champion said. "She has done some wonderful things for curling, and I don't think I've ever seen a team do so well. They kept winning after winning, and that's a tough thing to do in women's curling. I have tears in my eyes for her."

Meanwhile, McCusker played second for the legendary Sandra Schmirler, whose team is still referred to by Jones as the greatest of all time in women's curling.

But the respect is evidently mutual.

"We couldn't string together what this team has strung together," McCusker said. "We didn't approach Team Canada the same way as this team did, and I admire them so much for their ability to say 'This is all that matters.'"


Videos

Photos