Emotional return for ice queens

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:59 AM ET

The emotions of the moment almost overcame her once again 24 hours later.

Manitoba's Jennifer Jones faced a media throng at the Winnipeg International Airport upon returning from St. John's, Nfld., where she won the national Scott Tournament of Hearts crown on Sunday.

Among other things, that means her St. Vital squad will represent Canada at the women's world championship, to be held in Paisley, Scotland, March 19-27.

"We're just so honoured to represent our country, and we're just so thrilled with this, it's unbelievable," Jones said, her voice trembling. "We worked so hard, and to have your dreams come true is something that a lot of people don't get to realize. We did (Sunday), and we'll never forget it.

"I'm beginning to realize (the impact) now. Coming home, I knew it was going to be real emotional for us, and it's really sinking in. It's big for us. I know Manitoba hasn't won for a while (1995). It's great for Manitoba, and we're excited to go to the (Olympic) trials and the worlds. It's just been amazing."

'AS GOOD AS IT GETS'

Jones, third Cathy Overton-Clapham, second Jill Officer and fifth Trish Eck were greeted by about 150 well-wishers as they were piped down the escalator. And all the talk was about the shot heard across the country, an in-off to score the winning four points in an 8-6 victory over Ontario's Jenn Hanna. That compares to the one thrown by the late Sandra Schmirler at the 1997 Olympic trials, which propelled Saskatchewan to the 1998 Olympics.

"Any time you're in the same mix as Sandra Schmirler, as a curler, that's as good as it gets," Jones said. "I'm honoured that they think that, but for me, it was the biggest moment of my curling career, and it was something that I will always remember."

And they watched it on the plane all the way home.

"We watched that shot over and over and over again and each time, we got goosebumps and each time, we got tears in our eyes and kind of just want to jump and yell and scream again," Officer said.

'LIVE UP TO HER PROMISE'

"I did a little visualization throughout the week about playing in the final, and I actually visualized the draw to the four-foot for the win. In hindsight, I'm a little bit glad I didn't have to judge the weight of a draw because I was pretty nervous. But whatever kind of shot, Jen has said before, that if we had a shot to win, she would make it. And she lived up to her promise."

And you can bet Jones will never tire of seeing it.

"I can't wait to see it on a big TV and just see our emotion, because it was the most emotional moment of my life," she said. "The team just stuck behind me. I didn't have the best game. I just wanted a shot to win."

The shot made amends for Manitoba's poor play in the final.

"We were the best team all week, (but) we definitely got outplayed in the final game," admitted Overton-Clapham. "Just having a chance to score a (four) to actually win the game on a shot that we made it on is exciting. It's a shot that you're going to see forever."

BITERS: Manitoba lead Cathy Gauthier had to miss the flight home due to an ear infection ... The Scott final on CBC drew an audience of 911,000, up 23% over last year's final. The semifinal drew 620,000, and the average rating through the week was 432,000.


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