'Gimme back that jacket'

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:16 PM ET

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -- Something didn't seem to be quite right during yesterday's practice sessions at the Enmax Centre.

Two sheets over from Manitoba's Jennifer Jones was Kelly Scott's squad, wearing the same Team Canada colours Jones wore at last year's national women's curling championship.

B.C.'s Scott had wrested that honour away from the Buffalo gals when she beat Jones in the final.

'MORE HUNGRY'

So was it bothering the Jones crew to see someone else in red and white for the 2007 Scotties Tournament of Hearts?

"Not at all," responded Manitoba third Cathy Overton-Clapham. "You've got to work to wear those jackets. Losing the final's always tough, but it makes you more hungry to come back."

And try to win 'em back.

"Whenever you lose, it only motivates you to get back and do it again," Overton-Clapham readily admitted. "Wearing those jackets is a great honour and we had a great year when we did wear them, so to do it again would be great.

"We've had a great year, so if we can just keep doing what we've been doing and hopefully get some breaks along the way, you'll never know what can happen at the end of the week."

It did strike home when Manitoba second Jill Officer saw Scott in Canadian colours.

"It crossed my mind," she said. "Last year, when you come as Team Canada, it's a little bit different. So we're back in Manitoba jackets, but hey, we're here, right? So we're happy.

"It doesn't matter what you're wearing or where you come from, you just have to go out and focus on playing your game well and hopefully we'll be there at the end of the week."

Jones, who plays Saskatchewan and Yukon/NWT today, denied seeking any sort of revenge but does hope to get those jackets back.

"We're just glad we're here, proud to represent Manitoba and hope to do well," she said. "Every team out here wants to play well and we're no different. Obviously, representing Canada is an amazing experience we'd like to experience again. We just want to enjoy this and if it works out, that's great."

Jones is one of the clear-cut favourites.

"It doesn't really matter who the favourites are," Officer said. "Everybody's here to win and everybody earned the right to be here, so we can't take anything for granted."

Their fortunes could hinge on how well veteran lead Janet Arnott performs on the national stage for a Manitoba record ninth time.

"I probably could play better, but I'm playing as best I can with the practice time I've put in," said Arnott, who replaced Dana Allerton just before the provincials. "So I'm just going to go out there and play as good as I can at this point."

Even at 50, she has no problems handling the sweeping chores that can sometimes be exhausting. Arnott, however, had not expected to compete on the national stage again.

"It's pretty surreal," she said. "It's very exciting and I'm looking forward to it ... If I had any nervousness (at provincials), I guess I got over it there, so that was good. The way the provincials mimic the Canadians now, it's kind of a nice warmup for this."

Jones has also brought former junior women's provincial champ Kristen Williamson a her fifth.

"It's awesome," Williamson said. "It's a very prestigious event, and so far I've been very impressed with what's going on."

Jones denied that this is an audition for Williamson. Although rumours persist Ontario's Dawn Askin will move to Manitoba and take over at lead, Jones insisted no decision has been made yet.


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