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Curling queen Jones expecting

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Winnipeg skip Jennifer Jones will have a totally new delivery this winter — a bouncing baby due in mid-December.

Jones, 38, told the Free Press on Tuesday she is about four months pregnant and she is thrilled, along with partner Brent Laing, to be expecting her first child.

"Wow!" Jones exclaimed as she delivered the news. "We’re both very excited... Never a dull moment for me, eh?"

Indeed. Jones already has a hectic schedule as skip of one of the top-ranked curling teams in the world, while also managing a career as a top-flight corporate lawyer.

Throw a baby into the mix and a partner in Laing who lives elsewhere and is also very busy — he’s the second for Ontario’s Glenn Howard, the reigning world men’s champions — and Jones admits life will somehow be even busier the next little while.

"We’re both going to keep our separate residences through the 2013-14 season. We’re both committed to our teams and it’s really important to us. I will remain in Winnipeg and Brent will remain in Ontario and then we will figure it out after that.

"It will be a little bit of juggling and it will be a little complicated, but we’ll figure it out."

The implications for Manitoba curling will be immediate. Jones says she will miss at least the first half of the 2012-13 curling season — and not just because she’s having a baby.

Even before she learned she was pregnant, Jones had scheduled off-season surgery to deal with chronic pain in her right knee — that’s her trailing leg during her curling delivery — and she had the procedure done last month.

She’s still on crutches and unable to even drive and she says doctors have told her it could take six months for her knee to fully heal.

But just as that time comes, Jones will be due to deliver, causing yet another delay in her return to the ice.

Jones says she is at this point targeting the Continental Cup in mid-January as her return date and said she fully intends to compete at the Manitoba women’s provincial championship later that same month.

The Jones team has an automatic berth into the 2013 Manitoba provincials as the defending champion.

Jones said her team will continue to curl on the cash circuit in her absence, with third Kaitlyn Lawes taking over skipping duties while the front end of second Jill Officer and lead Dawn Askin will remain unchanged.

She said the team has recruited former Ontario champion and Sherry Middaugh third Kirsten Wall to play third for the Jones team while Jones is away.

The longer-term effects for Manitoba curling are less clear. Both the Jones and Howard teams have already confirmed their berths into the December, 2013 Canadian Curling Trials at the MTS Centre, where Canada’s male and female representatives for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi will be determined.

What happens after that remains to be seen, but it bears noting Laing has a child from a previous relationship living in Ontario.

On the surface then, there would appear to at least be the potential prospect of Jones someday moving to be with Laing and, conceivably, someday also competing at a Scotties Tournament of Hearts for, gasp, Ontario.

Try that image on for size, Manitoba curling fans.

Of course, if Laing were to move to Manitoba, the reverse would be true and Laing would almost instantly become the most recruited player in this province.

"It’s a lot of change in my life," said Jones, "but I’ve always got a lot on my plate. It’s kind of what I do.

"It’s a lot of planning right now, but we’ll be OK."

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

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