Hard-charging Hanna gets it done

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:05 PM ET

ST. JOHN'S, Nfld. -- There's no better way to describe Ontario's Jenn Hanna than in her own off-colour words. "Balls-out aggressive."

Using that very type of strategy, the 25-year-old Ottawa skip led her team past ex-Winnipegger Kelly Scott of British Columbia 9-7 in the Scott Tournament of Hearts semifinal yesterday.

Hanna, third Pascale Letendre, second Dawn Askin and lead Steph Hanna, one of the youngest teams in the tournament, will face Manitoba's Jennifer Jones for the Canadian women's curling championship today (11:30 a.m., CBC).

"I can't believe I said that," Hanna said, referring to the aforementioned style of play, which she described live on CBC for curling fans across the country.

"I guess it's just playing with no fear. We play like there is no next game. I look at this as if it's my once-in-a-lifetime opportunity here. I know I'm only 25 and maybe I'll be back, but getting here is a feat in itself, and I don't want to leave anything undone here. We are putting it all out there."

Hanna has become the darling of the crowd after she won the Hot Shots competition last Saturday, followed that up with jaw-dropping shots throughout the week and reeled off four straight wins in elimination games since reaching the tie-breakers with a 6-5 round-robin record.

No team has ever won a national championship after suffering five round-robin losses, but one gets the impression this might be the team to reverse that trend.

'STOMACH WAS DOING FLIPS'

"Nerves of steel? No," Hanna said. "Sure I was nervous inside and my stomach was doing flips, but it's when the nerves get into your fingers that you are in big, big trouble. We played a really, really strong second half."

And it's those kinds of late rallies that have been Hanna's bread and butter. Her team was 1-4 at Ontario provincials before winning all of its remaining games to take the title.

Here, her team was again at four losses early in the week but simply refused to lose with the most on the line.

In the semifinal, her team was down 4-2 after giving up three in the third end but battled back to tie with two in the sixth and take control with two in the eighth.

After Scott hit and stuck on a blank attempt in the ninth and took one to tie it at 7-7, Hanna played a brilliant 10th, making a shot so good that Scott wrecked on a draw attempt and gave up two before the Ontario skip had to throw her last rock.

"I almost cried out there when that last rock came down," Hanna said. "There is nowhere I'd rather be right now. We're playing in the final of the Scott, and this is what everyone plays for."

Scott, who curls with third Michelle Allen, second Sasha Carter and lead Renee Simons, left with her head held high yesterday, knowing that her team performed well and already has a ticket to the 2005 Olympic trials in Halifax.

"They were lights out the last half of the game and had us in trouble quite a bit," Scott said. "All the credit to them for pulling out the win.

"Our consolation is we've had one heck of an experience here this week.

"We are going to the Olympic trials next December, and it's going to be a very similar competition, and we have drawn nothing but great things from this week."


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