They may not have come as close to becoming Olympians as fellow Manitoban Jeff Stoughton but Team Canada's Jennifer Jones has still found inspiration for the national Scott Tournament of Hearts while watching our Canadians curl in Italy.
"Sometimes, it's a little hard to watch when we were trying so hard to get there," second Jill Officer said on the eve of the Hearts, which open in London, Ont., tomorrow. "But it's good motivation for us going to the Scott. We were really fortunate that we had this to look forward to and I'm really excited about that."
At times, third Cathy Overton-Clapham fantasized about what it would have been like to chase Olympic gold.
Had a chance
"That's hard, too, to watch and know that we had a chance and wishing that we could start that over again," she said before Canada's Shannon Kleibrink lost the Olympic semifinal Wednesday. "But, watching gets the blood flowing -- not just with the curling but with everything. Whenever Canada gets a medal, it's exciting."
Jones, 31, concurred.
"Of course, you want to be there," said the ever-optimistic lawyer. "But watching the Olympics is just so much fun. I mean, I'm addicted to the Olympics, whether it's curling or the bobsled or skeleton. We're hoping for Canada and it kind of inspires you for 2010 (Olympics).
"It's obviously not the easiest thing to do (watch). But, in the same sense, it's almost hard to believe that you could have been there. So, it really is inspiring for the next time and hopefully, we'll have a shot again."
But right now, the main focus is defending her Scott crown.
"We're really excited about London and going to the worlds in Canada (Grande Prairie, Alta.) would be awesome, so it's something to really shoot for," Jones said.
Jones, who was plagued by kidney stones at the Olympic trials, has since declared herself "kidney-stone free" after undergoing the procedure to address the problem. Since the trials, Jones won a spiel in Switzerland, then lost the Canada Cup final to Alberta's Cathy King -- who will also be at the Scott.
"Actually, we're having a really good year, other than the trials," said Overton-Clapham, 36. "We've won bonspiels, we've qualified in bonspiels, we've lost some finals."
But, somewhat surprisingly, it was at those last two spiels that the Jones foursome really started to come into its own, especially after rebounding from tough starts.
Came a long way
"We're a new team and I'm a new player and any time you add a player, it's difficult," said lead Georgina Wheatcroft. "You've got to become a unit and it's a hard thing to find. There are very few teams in Canada that are there. But I think we came a long, long way at the Canada Cup.
"You've got to learn from things like the trials to get better and I believe we have gotten better."
That's good because, as Team Canada, Jones knows there will be a bull's-eye on her back in London.
"There is a stigma that there is a target on Team Canada but I don't think that's a concern for us," said Officer, 30. "And just because (Nova Scotia's) Colleen Jones is no longer Team Canada, it doesn't mean she doesn't have a target on her back, too. Or (B.C.'s) Kelly Scott, who lost the trials final. Everyone will want to beat the trials finalist, too."
One other thing this Manitoba team has going for it is that only a squad named Jones has won the Scott since the turn of this century.
"I hope the streak continues," Jennifer said.
But then, so does Colleen.