Wheatcroft knew the feeling

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

She knew exactly what she was missing when she watched the opening ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics.

Georgina Wheatcroft had walked among the Canadian team as it marched into the stadium for the 2002 Olympics as second for Canada's Kelley Law.

That is why Wheatcroft was so anxious to replace Cathy Gauthier at lead for Team Canada's Jennifer Jones this season. That is why she spent the fall kissing her husband and two young kids in B.C. goodbye as she chased that Olympic dream all over again. And that's why it hurt so much to watch another team march in after Jones failed to win the Canadian Curling Trials.

"I cried," Wheatcroft admitted. "It was beautiful and I knew how the athletes felt. What a moment. What a thrill. And when they lit the torch, it was unbelievable.

"In the beginning, it was hard to watch but I'm fine now. I understand that's sports and it wasn't meant to be."

Although Wheatcroft has now set her focus on the national Scott Tournament of Hearts, she was reluctant to discuss her future with Jones beyond this season.

"It has been a big sacrifice for my family," said Wheatcroft, who established a Manitoba residence to meet eligibility requirements. "It's been hard. And it's such a huge commitment. But this is a great team. I think we're all great players and we don't have a weakness, technically. Do you walk away from that?

"The sky's the limit for this team. If we win and go back as Team Canada again, it would make things a lot easier."

Although Jones has now set her sights on defending her title and winning the worlds, her long-term goal is to get to the 2010 Olympics. But it is doubtful that Wheatcroft will want to spend the next four years testing her husband's patience.

"The one regret I have about the trials is not really giving ourselves a chance," said Wheatcroft, 40. "But I'm really looking forward to the Scott -- especially after the Canada Cup. We really came together as a team there and this team hasn't reached its full potential yet."

When Wheatcroft throws the first brick for Jones at the Scott, it will be the fourth different position she has played at the nationals, a rarity. It will also be the third time she has competed as a member of a Team Canada. She was at third for B.C.'s Pat Sanders in 1988 and second for Law in 2001, losing the final both times.

"Third time lucky, I hope," she said.


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