'Toba vet more than holding her own

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:23 AM ET

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -- The old gal has been more than holding her own at her unexpected return to the national women's championship.

And Manitoba's Janet Arnott is closing in on winning her fourth Canadian curling crown at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts this week -- which would be a Manitoba record -- after she had thought her competitive curling career was over.

"I can't say I thought about a fourth championship," Arnott said yesterday. "It's just been try and focus on my game, try to stay sharp for the girls and just try to do all I can to help the girls out. That's all I'm doing."

Arnott, of course, replaced lead Dana Allerton in a controversial move made by skip Jennifer Jones just before the Manitoba championship. And even at the age of 50, she has more than held her own here this week. Arnott was tied for second among leads' shooting percentages at 84% heading into last night's draw.

"It's been great," Arnott said. "I've actually been having a lot of fun. I like to think I'm doing OK -- hangin' in there with the whipper-snappers."

Yet, Arnott does not know if she will be playing lead should Jones advance to the world championship.

"I honestly don't know," she said. "As it's happened, we've sat down and talked about whatever we think is the right decision and that's what we're going to do. I would be going, whether it's coaching, as an alternate or as a player. It doesn't matter to me.

"The competitive juices will end when they get a player to replace me. Believe you me, I'm done."

That player, sources insist, is Dawn Askin, who played for Ontario's Jenn Hanna, and is waiting to make her debut as an official member of the team before the season is over.

Arnott won her first three titles playing for her younger sister, Connie Laliberte, the team's coach here this week.

"I'm more relaxed now," Arnott said. "I don't feel as pressured but I don't know if that's because my sister isn't throwing the last two rocks. I had never played for anybody else, so I couldn't tell you. I knew she was going to make them but it was just a bit different."


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