New Jenn-eration a class act

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:58 AM ET

They say in sports that winning is everything. But Jenn Hanna was living proof of the opposite with her performance -- both on and off the ice -- during the Scott Tournament of Hearts.

She had victory in the national women's curling championship within her grasp during Sunday's final in St. John's, but lost it in the worst way imaginable.

While Manitoba's Jennifer Jones leapt about after making that incredible ricochet shot to score four points in the final end to win the title, Hanna and her teammates displayed remarkable poise and sportsmanship.

They were one of the youngest teams in the field, but showed maturity beyond their years.

Even after suffering such a crushing defeat, their heads were held high as the pipers marched them down the ice during the closing ceremonies.

And they stood proudly shoulder to shoulder on the lower step of the championship podium, knowing very well that they easily could have been on the top one.

Not once did any member of Hanna's team lament their improbable twist of fate.

Never did one of them speak about being robbed of a championship.

HIGH ROAD

Instead, led by the skip's example, they opted for the high road.

Hanna spoke of bursting with pride in her teammates, who had played so well throughout the tournament. And she gave full credit to Jones for delivering what she called the best shot of the event.

"Hey, we just came second in Canada. That's pretty friggin' cool," Hanna said.

Curling fans outside of Ontario didn't know who Jenn Hanna was before the start of the tournament, but they sure do now.

Nobody gave her squad from the Ottawa Curling Club much of a chance, even after it had rebounded from a slow start at the provincials to win the Ontario title, a difficult task in itself.

But as the week progressed in Newfoundland, Hanna slowly but surely warmed up the fans in St. John's with her take-no-prisoners approach to the game.

She called it "balls-out aggressive" on national TV during the semi-final on Saturday against B.C.

On the ice, she executed some of the best shots of the tournament.

In a round-robin game against Saskatchewan on Wednesday night, with all the fans at Mile One Stadium watching the last sheet of the draw come to its conclusion, Hanna threw consecutive stones through a narrow port in front of the rings -- hurling different weight on both shots, no less -- to earn a victory that kept her playoff hopes alive.

The winning shot was a beauty. Her rock slipped between the guards (separated by perhaps a centimetre more than the width of a curling stone) and raised one of her own bricks onto the button for the winning point.

Hanna was a hit off the ice as well.

She constantly praised the good folks of St. John's for their warmth and hospitality, and the kind words got back to the Newfoundlanders, who adopted Hanna as their favourite after the elimination of the host team.

When four-time defending champion Colleen Jones suffered a tie-breaker loss to New Brunswick, Hanna's game against Alberta came to a halt as players and fans escorted Jones off the ice with an emotional standing ovation.

Hanna described the sadness of the moment, calling Jones a true legend.

WORTHY REWARD

Jones, who lost her opening game of the tournament to the Ontario skip, rewarded Hanna by telling her after Sunday night's wrap-up banquet that she and her team are what women's curling need.

A "balls-out aggressive" team that shows no fear.

Jones and Hanna exchanged curling shirts, the legend handing the torch to a future star.

Hanna showed tremendous grace and outstanding class during the entire tournament.

She did all the right things and said all the right things that made her a champion.

And that's how she and her teammates should be treated.


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