Year that almost wasn't

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:52 AM ET

LONDON, Ont. -- The whirlwind whipped into a frenzy up in Thompson, and it has yet to touch down for Janet Harvey.

No sooner did her Fort Rouge foursome capture the provincial crown in the Nickel City than it had to fly to Winnipeg, unpack, pack, then catch flights to Kamloops, B.C., where it competed in the Canada Cup. Then they scurried back home, where they have been busy preparing for the 25th anniversary of the national Scott Tournament of Hearts in London, Ont., where they will wear the Bison on their backs.

Strange thing is, Harvey almost called off what turned out to be a phenomenal year when her new second, Lisa Fargey, got transferred to the U.S. last August.

"We contemplated not playing," Harvey revealed during last Sunday's send-off.

Then she called Cherie-Ann Loder. With third Jill Thurston and long-time lead Carey Burgess, Harvey suddenly discovered that she was skipping perhaps the best squad she ever had. Harvey finished seventh on the cashspiel circuit and qualified for the inaugural women's players' championship.

"For sure, it's the best year I've ever had," said Harvey, 38. "We had a really good cash year, and sometimes it's difficult to follow that up with a provincial title, which we were able to do. So definitely this has been a pretty good year for us -- so far."

One reason? 'Little Loder.'

"She's actually a pretty even-keeled kid," Harvey said. "Nothing seems to faze her. She's not awestruck by anything. She's actually more of a calming influence than anybody on the team, and she's just a kid."

Go figure.

"Last year, they said they had a hard time keeping it together, then throw some 22-year-old on the team and everything comes back to Earth," said Loder, who was planning to skip her own squad when Harvey called. "I just have stupid stories to tell them about me and my stupid friends. It keeps everyone's nerves down."

But won't she be anxious at her first Scott?

"I've got no nerves," Loder said. "Maybe a little bit nervous just because it's women's and they keep telling me it's a different atmosphere than juniors. It will be exciting."

Thurston, 34, can't wait. She went to the Scott twice as a fifth but never got to throw a rock.

"I've waited a long time to go as a player, and I'm very excited," Thurston said. "And I'm very excited to go with these girls."

If there has been a flaw in their performance this year, it was a poor showing at the Canada Cup.

"It was difficult to get off a plane, then hop on another one a few hours later, then go and play given the week we had," Harvey conceded. "But I wouldn't use that as an excuse. We lost four games, but three of them we could have won. We were right there. We didn't play that badly. We weren't as sharp as we could have been, but that doesn't bother us."

'AGGRESSIVE'

Harvey is the only one of the four who has actually competed at a Scott before, skipping squads in 1990 and '97, missing the playoffs both times.

"I was pretty young when I won the first time, and I just played really aggressive, sort of the way we played all year, and that kind of backfired a bit," she recalled. "When we went in '97, we played pretty well, but we didn't get any results.

"And when you're Team Manitoba, teams play great against you. You really have to play at a high level in order to make the playoffs. So there's a different perspective, just being older and just sort of knowing what to expect. But I definitely think that we're going to have a decent chance at making playoffs this time."


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