Leader of the pack

Jennifer Jones will attempt to become the first Manitoba team to ever win back-to-back Canadian...

Jennifer Jones will attempt to become the first Manitoba team to ever win back-to-back Canadian women's crowns. (Sun Media/Marcel Cretain)

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:17 AM ET

Jennifer Jones is hoping to complete the three V's.

Manitoba's reigning women's world curling champion wants to hop from victories in Vernon to Victoria, then Vancouver -- with a rather important stop in Edmonton along the way.

Jones won her world title in Vernon, B.C. and will wear Team Canada colours when she attempts to defend her Canadian crown at the 2009 Canadian Scotties Tournament of Hearts that start in Victoria tomorrow.

Jones is seeking to complete the string of V's by representing Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

"We're hoping that B.C. will continue to be very good to us," Jones said before heading westward earlier this week. "It doesn't matter where we play, really. Obviously, we had a great time in Vernon and Victoria, I don't think will be any different."

To earn a trip to the Olympics, Jones will have to win the 2009 Canadian Curling Trials in Edmonton in December.

But first, Jones will attempt to become the first Manitoba team to ever win back-to-back Canadian women's crowns. Jones failed to do so in 2006, losing the final to B.C.'s Kelly Scott.

"It's tough to win and defending it is no different," said Jones, who won last year's Hearts after making a miraculous comeback. "The teams are really, really good. But we've been Team Canada before so we know what goes with that. I just got my Team Canada jacket (Monday) and it's pretty amazing to see JONES on the back. It's pretty exciting to be Team Canada and hopefully, we'll have a good event."

After becoming the first and, to date, only women's squad to earn a direct path to the Olympic trials, Jones has had little to play for this season -- until now.

"We don't really need incentive," objected Jones, who recently won a cashspiel in Perth, Scotland. "We just love to play and we love to compete, and we're always trying to get better. It's been a pretty fun season so far and hopefully, we can have even more fun.

"It was a dream come true last year and we've had a year to enjoy that."

Now, Jones, third Cathy Overton-Clapham, second Jill Officer and Dawn Askin want to do it again.

"(Defending the title) would be great to do," said Officer, who was a special guest at the Safeway Championship opening banquet in Selkirk on Tuesday. "This is our fifth year in a row at the Scotties and we always try to win it.

"We'd be excited, obviously, to go back to the world championship in Korea. We've been anticipating this for a while now, through our season and watching all the other provinces."

This year's Hearts field does not look to be as strong as the last one which featured Alberta's Olympic bronze medallist Shannon Kleibrink, Ontario's Sherry Middaugh and Scott, a two-time Canadian champ.

"Those are great teams but there are other teams that have made it to the Scotties this year that are ... in that top tier of teams that are competing for a chance to go to the Olympics," Officer said. "Those are (Alberta's) Cheryl Bernard and (Saskatchewan's) Stephanie Lawton. Heather Strong from Newfoundland's always a fighter ...

"Krista McCarville, their (Ontario) team was there two years in a row ... and they're back. (Quebec's) Marie-France Larouche has had an excellent year and I anticipate that they'll be there at the end of the week, too.

"I'm looking forward to playing against the best teams in the country."

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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