Jill thirstin' for title

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:46 AM ET

THOMPSON -- Back in 1992, Jill Thurston lost the national junior curling final.

Two years later, her third, Jennifer Jones, won the Canadian crown after Thurston had graduated.

In 1996, Thurston lost the Scott Tournament of Hearts provincial women's final as a skip.

In 2000, Thurston played third for Cathy Overton-Clapham when skip Connie Laliberte was recovering from giving birth. But Laliberte came back for the nationals, relegating Thurston to the sidelines as the team's fifth.

Now, as third for Fort Rouge's top-ranked Janet Harvey, Thurston is just two victories away from heading to the national Scott in London, Ont., next month. But one wonders how she feels after all of those near misses.

"It's not frustrating," Thurston said after Harvey finished atop her pool in this year's Scott with a 5-2 record yesterday. "Obviously, you always hope for a chance to get back there, and curling's a fickle game because you never know when it's gonna happen. But you've just got to keep plugging away and hope you get your chance.

"But we're not anywhere near the final yet. There's still a few games to win."

'DOESN'T BOTHER US'

Harvey, 38, plays St. Vital's Karen Porritt in the Page playoff 1-vs.-1 match at C.A. Nesbitt Arena this morning at 9 o'clock. The winner advances to the final, with the loser playing the winner of the 2-vs.-2 game in the semifinal.

Porritt rocked Roseland's Kristen Williamson 9-3 to finish first in her pool with a 6-1 log, earning the choice of either hammer or rock colour this morning.

Harvey, on the other hand, dropped a 10-7 extra-end decision to Brandon's desperate Lois Fowler.

"It doesn't bother us to go in on a loss," said Thurston, 34. "I mean, we played great that game. It went into an extra end, and Lois made a great shot to win."

Harvey just shrugged it off.

"Oh well, that's the way it goes," said the two-time provincial champ, also supported by second Cherie-Ann Loder and Carey Burgess. "It was a good game, and both teams played well.

"If we keep playing the way we're playing and get a break or two along the way, we'll be fine (today)."

Porritt, on the other hand, won her last two and is poised to play in her seventh provincial final -- including a loss to clubmate Karen Young the last time Thompson hosted the event. Her twin sister, Lynn Fallis-Kurz, the lead, was with her each time.

Although she won at third for Jennifer Jones in 2002, Porritt has never won the Scott as a skip.

"It would just mean I would have to talk to the media more," joked Porritt, once known as the perennial bridesmaid. "I'm enjoying skipping again."

Porritt left Jones two years ago due to time commitments, but her new foursome that also includes third Janice Blair and her sister, Susan Baleja, emerged with the best record here this week.

"We're in the one-one game, we're happy with the position we're in," said Porritt, 43.

But her new squad has not fared well versus Harvey this season.

"We beat her in the (MCA women's) bonspiel last week, which is nice," Porritt said. "Before that we lost three extra-end games to her. They're a great team. They make a ton of shots. They've had a great year up until now.

"And we're playing better all the time. So as long as we can keep playing better, then that'll be good."

And the desire to return to the national stage still burns within her.

"I'm as hungry as ever," she said. "It just doesn't ever go away. But we still have a couple of games to go. We're nowhere near there yet.

"We've just got to keep plugging away."


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