Holland ends Jones' Scotties reign

Saskatchewan skip Amber Holland (left to right), third Kim Schneider, second Tammy Schneider and...

Saskatchewan skip Amber Holland (left to right), third Kim Schneider, second Tammy Schneider and lead Heather Kalenchuk pose with the winnners trophy after beating Team Canada during the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island on February 27, 2011. (SHAUN BEST/Reuters)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:08 PM ET

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — Anne of Green Gables already has the colour right. She might want to add a stylized ‘S’ to her little farmhouse here on the Island.

Because a farm girl from Saskatchewan put her stamp on this province this week, culminating in a major upset in the final of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts Sunday night.

Amber Holland knocked off Jennifer Jones and Team Canada 8-7, ending its three-year reign and keeping Jones from a record-tying fourth consecutive national title.

It’s the first Hearts title for Saskatchewan since the late Sandra Schmirler won the third of her career, in 1997.

“Saskatchewan’s going to be rocking for a few days,” Holland said, celebrating with green-clad fans and Islanders alike who made it clear who they favoured on this night. “We definitely felt the crowd behind us.”

The significance of her win, 14 years after the legend Schmirler’s, wasn’t lost on Holland, the head of the Saskatchewan Curling Association.

“But you’re never going to live up to that company,” the 36-year-old said.

“It hasn’t sunk in,” she continued. “It hasn’t even sunk in that we won or where we’re going. But it feels great.”

Holland is going to Denmark for the worlds next month, the realization of a dream she’s had since representing Canada as the junior champion in 1992.

But it didn’t come easy, as nobody expected it would against a seasoned champ like Jones.

In fact, the Winnipeg corporate lawyer had a chance to win with her last rock, looking at a difficult raise double-takeout after Holland buried her final stone on the button.

Holland said she started feeling the nerves when Jones got into the hack.

“More nervous than me throwing mine,” she said.

This time, though, Jones couldn’t pull it off, as her raised stone bounced off the Saskatchewan counter but spun agonizingly into the 12-foot, leaving another Saskatchewan stone as the difference.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Holland said. “Kim (Schneider) is yelling at me to sweep, and I’m brushing it, going, ‘Oh my god, this is going out. We’re gonna win!’ ”

Jones couldn’t hide her disappointment at her first Scotties playoff loss since 1997.

“I thought we hit it perfect,” she said. “Unfortunately, it just rolled too far. It’s a little disappointing. We had a great week. I had a shot to win, and that’s all you really want. Unfortunately it wasn’t our day. It just didn’t work out.

“They played a great game. They’ll be great Canadian champions.”

Jones appeared in control of the game, early, scoring three in the first and leading 6-3 at the fifth-end break, and the house band, strumming acoustic guitars and singing Slippin’ Away, may as well have been performing Saskatchewan’s theme song.

Skip Amber Holland, though, refused to sing along, and when she posted her own three in the sixth it was, as they say, a whole new ball game.

“We stayed in it,” Holland said. “In championship finals like this, you need to stay in it. You need to stay positive, and we did that.”

The victory brings all kinds of perks to the Saskatchewan team, including $15,500 in prize money plus Sport Canada funding to the tune of $144,000 over the next two years. Not to mention berths in the Canada Cup, Continental Cup and next year’s Hearts.

“You don’t really think of all things that will go with it,” Holland said. “Because you’re just in the moment.”

A moment shared by an entire province.

paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca

Twitter@friesensunmedia


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