Wheatcroft may make Hearts history

STEVE GREEN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 10:12 AM ET

Today's Scott Tournament of Hearts final could be one for the record books for Georgina Wheatcroft.

The lead for Jennifer Jones' Team Canada rink, Wheatcroft will become the first player to win three Hearts with three different skips if the defending national women's curling champions beat Kelly Scott of B.C.

And Wheatcroft would do it playing three different positions. She was third for Pat Sanders in 1987 and second for Kelley Law in 2000, winning world titles both times.

The native of Nanaimo, B.C., who joined the current champions after lead Cathy Gauthier retired after last season for personal reasons, wasn't aware of her chance at posterity until told of it after yesterday's 10-4 semifinal win over Colleen Jones of Nova Scotia.

"Excellent. Let's just do that,'' she said.

Being the newbie on an established team can sometimes be a difficult assignment, but Wheatcroft, 40, has fit in well.

"It's been really easy with George," Jennifer Jones said. "She's a very good player with lots of experience. She throws an excellent rock and I know exactly how she'll throw it every time."

Wheatcroft had to move to Manitoba in order to play with Jones, whose home base is the St. Vital Curling Club in Winnipeg.

"The biggest adjustment has been the travelling. It's been pretty tough on my family," she said of husband Mark and daughters Alexa, 6, and Amy, 18 months.

She said she felt fully settled in a month ago.

"For me, the turning point was going to Switzerland in January," she said of a major bonspiel against top European rinks. "We really bonded over there. It takes a while to get that great team dynamic you need to win.

"And I love the style of game Jennifer plays. As lead, I get to play a lot of draws, come-arounds and finesse shots."

Asked to compare her other championship skips, Wheatcroft said Jones is more like Sanders.

"Kelley (Law) may have been a little more defensive, but with Pat, we'd be up six and still going for it."

While Colleen Jones rightly gets the accolades for her 25-year career in top-flight curling -- she won the inaugural Tournament of Hearts in 1982 and has added five others since -- Wheatcroft isn't that far behind, with a chance to add her third title 19 years after the first.

"It's an honour," she said. "The great thing about curling is that 19 years later, I'm still here with a chance to win a championship. How many other sports can you say that in?"

Wheatcroft already has at least one piece of hardware to take home as she was named the first-team all-star lead, based on the stats she put up through the round-robin -- a tournament-topping 85 per cent.

Joining her on the first team were Scott and third Jeanna Schraeder of B.C. and Nova Scotia second Mary-Anne Arsenault. On the second team were Newfoundland and Labrador skip Heather Strong, Team Canada third Cathy Overton-Clapham, B.C. second Sasha Carter and Nova Scotia lead Nancy Delahunt.


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