Final pits hammer against glamour

JIM KERNAGHAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

So, tell us Kelly Scott, do you and the former teammate you just defeated socialize in any way?

The normally loquacious winner of yesterday's Scott Tournament of Hearts title spoke volumes with her brevity.

"No," she said quickly.

OK, over to you, Jennifer Jones. Do you and Kelly chat or anything when not competing?

"No, they're pretty reserved; they don't go to the lounge at all," she said before suddenly taking off.

The 25th Hearts final provided a pile of storylines a sport like boxing would have jumped on.

It was glamour (Jones) versus hammer (Scott). It was their seventh time meeting after splitting six games.

They are opposites, Jones tall and blond, Scott barely over five feet.

In the genteel world of curling, such differences are underplayed. But they were obvious. Jones did not break a leg rushing to congratulate her opponent afterward and you might presume Scott wouldn't have, either, had she lost.

It is not likely they'll be exchanging Valentine hearts next week. They have plenty of history and likely will be making more.

Let's go back more than a decade, when a curious curling anomaly arose. Jones was skip of the squad that won the 1994 Canadian junior championship and Scott's team that won the '95 Canadian junior.

Without expending two gallons of printer's ink to explain it all, suffice to say a shift in dates meant the Canadian champion would have to wait a year before going to the world's. The saw-off was Jones would be able to go straight to the playoffs of the '95 Canadian juniors for a chance.

Oops, she was knocked off by Scott in the semifinals and Scott ended up winning the title and going on to represent Canada at the world final in Scotland. Just four years earlier, they'd been teammates on a Leduc, Alta., rink.

As finals in this chilly form of chess go, organizers couldn't have asked for a more apt one. This was a rubber match between two teams that had top shot-makers and skips, aside from their personal battles, who matched up well.

At times, Jones' eyes took on shadows of doubt, soon to be replaced by the glare of an eagle when a big shot was needed. One minute a cute little muffin, Scott quickly became a severe Smurf when the chips were down.

One wondered, in the aftermath, given her articulate manner, whether the bouncy Scott had any marketing things going. The question caught her by surprise.

"No, are you offering any?" she laughed. "I think now some might come back our way. Give me a Scotty doll or something."

Scott, whose team fared well in games against teams bound for the Olympics after just coming short of representing Canada, feels the victory that gives her squad the Team Canada designation is confident going toward the world championship.

Jones took the defeat with equanimity.

"We turned it on in the playoffs, which is what great teams do," she said. "They made a great shot to win. It was the first final we lost all year. It just seemed like nothing was going our way today. It just wasn't meant to be, I guess. We'll be back."

So will Scott. More games between them are surely coming.

Yesterday's attendance of 6,674 brought the Hearts total to 105,065 for the week, third-highest in the 25-year history of the competition and fuel for chairperson Peter Inch to go after other big events such as The Brier and the Olympic Trials. Other than a rental rate at the Convention Centre that pretty well precluded a profit from Heartstop Lounge operations, the whole thing was relatively glitch-free.


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