(From left) Jennifer Jones, Kaitlyn Lawes, former Brandon resident Jill Officer and Dawn McEwen will go to the Winter Olympics.
For the last six years Jill Officer has felt a little awkward when talking to kids as an RBC Olympic Ambassador.
Although she knew she was curling at the level to compete at the Olympics, she had never been to one, which she felt the kids expected. That changed on Saturday when the 38-year-old, who lived in Brandon from 2001 to 2007, and her team skipped by Jennifer Jones defeated Sherry Middaugh 8-4 in the Canadian Olympic trials final at Winnipeg’s MTS Centre.
The team has had a few days to digest everything, but the whole situation still seems surreal to Officer, who throws second stones.
"I’m not sure it’s sunk in yet," said Officer, who also curls with third Kaitlyn Lawes and lead Dawn McEwen, who married former Brandonite Mike McEwen in the summer. "… I don’t think it really became something that I thought was attainable until we became more successful in women’s curling, winning the Scotties in 2005 and getting a few more resources to get to an elite level. Then it started to become more tangible and something we thought could be a possibility.
"It’s been years of hard work and a lot of ups and downs and determination, but I’m just so happy that we did it and we performed well and just with this great group of girls and our team is awesome."
Officer and Jones have been together for almost 20 years and have had a lot of success. They won Scotties Tournament of Hearts titles in 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2010 as well as a world title in 2008. However, they struggled at previous Olympic trials, missing the playoffs in both 2005 and 2009. This year they finished first in the round robin with a 6-1 record and received a bye into the final.
Their lives have become fairly hectic since winning the final as they have been approached by a lot of people to talk about what it’s like to go to the Olympics, while trying to figure out plans for which family members will go to Russia.
The Jones foursome is off to Calgary this weekend with Brad Jacobs’ men’s team for an Olympic orientation session where they hope to get a better grasp of what’s to come.
Meanwhile, Officer is just trying to enjoy the moment.
"It’s going to be crazy," she said. "… Somebody asked us (Wednesday) if there was something specific we wanted to trade other athletes for and it’s all these things that I never thought about until people asked. … I had a friend of mine saying ‘All I can picture is you walking in the opening ceremonies’ and I was like, I hadn’t thought about the opening ceremonies.
"It’s all these different things that I just haven’t had a chance to think about. We’re just enjoying the win and celebrating it a little bit with each other and we’ll start to get more organized this weekend."
PLAYDOWNS: The Westman Safeway and Scotties regional playdowns will take place this weekend in Hamiota.
There are two berths up for grabs in the women’s event, which runs Friday through Sunday and features teams skipped by Maureen Bonar, Betty Buurma, Sandra Cowling, Stacey Fordyce, Stacy Gill, D’Arcy Maywood and Kortney Teale. All the teams are from the Brandon Curling Club, except for Cowling’s Hamiota squad and Gill’s team from Minnedosa. The provincial Scotties are Jan. 8-12 in Virden.
The men’s event also runs from Friday to Sunday, with 15 teams battling for three berths. Among the teams entered are Brian Fowler’s foursome and other Brandon teams skipped by Steve Irwin, Duane Lang and Shawn Taylor, Virden’s Brent Duncan, Graham Freeman and Steve Warkentin, as well as Jerry Chudley and Kelly Robertson from Neepawa and Hamiota’s Dale Brooks and Lawrence Daniel. Deloraine’s Murray Warren, Minnedosa’s Glenn Parrott, Carberry’s Tyler Waterhouse and Wawanesa’s Perry Fisher are also in the event. The Safeway championship will run Jan. 29 to Feb. 2 in Winnipeg.
CURLETTES: Make it four straight Stream ‘N’ Wood Curlettes titles for Brandon’s Lois Fowler. Fowler and her team of Bonar, Terry Ursel and Jill Hazelwood scored deuces in the first, third, fourth and sixth ends Wednesday to defeat Jean Garbolinsky 8-3 and clinch first place with a 7-1 record. Joyce McDougall was second at 6-2.
EXTRA ENDS: Neepawa will host a Boxing Day Bonspiel. Teams will play three six-end games. The cost is $80. Contact Weldon Newton at 204-476-3824 … Brandon’s masters men’s bonspiel will run from Jan. 6-7. The entry fee is $160 per team. Call Brian Johnston at 204-571-6962. The 123rd annual Brandon Men’s Bonspiel will follow from Jan. 9-12 and the registration deadline is Jan. 3. Call Trevor Pomeroy at 204-573-9294.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 12, 2013