Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Another go for Olympic champs

Jones gang staying together for run at repeating as Oly gold medallists

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The Jones team of (from right) Dawn McEwen, Jill Officer, Kaitlyn Lawes and Jennifer Jones will take another shot at Oly gold. Coach Janet Arnott, left, is stepping down.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

The Jones team of (from right) Dawn McEwen, Jill Officer, Kaitlyn Lawes and Jennifer Jones will take another shot at Oly gold. Coach Janet Arnott, left, is stepping down. Photo Store

The golden whirlwind is still swirling around Team Jennifer Jones, that steady press of media, fans and events that comes with winning Olympic gold.

Amidst it all, the team knew they wanted to chase the dream again.

On Tuesday, the St. Vital Curling Club team of Jones, third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jill Officer and lead Dawn McEwen announced they would stay together for another four years and make another Olympic run.

"We all knew that if we were going to continue it would all be this team," Officer said from Prince Edward Island, where the four were getting ready to play their first games since Sochi.

There was no one moment that gilded the decision, Officer said, no single conversation. Outside the team, the issue of whether they would stay together was a regular question, especially as other elite curling teams shuffled their decks at the start of a new Olympic quadrennial. It was a myriad of small conversations, Officer said, little indications all four curlers wanted to commit to another campaign battling to stay on top.

"It's something we've all been thinking about anyway," Officer said. "We really enjoyed all of our time together, and after the Olympics we wanted to take some time and make sure we took a breath and were making the right decision... when everyone said they were on board, we had a few little things to check on with regard to family support... then maybe last week we were kinda like, 'OK, we might as well make an announcement.' "

Daughter

Life for the Jones rink is a little different than it was when the last Olympic quad began. Jones has a 17-month-old daughter, Isabella, and Officer is busy parenting toddler Camryn. Being a mom played a role in Officer's decision, she said, as she considered the legacy she wanted to leave for her daughter.

"There is still room for me to learn more about myself through curling," Officer said. "I think that's an important thing to show my daughter, that it's not just about winning. Obviously the winning is a bonus, but it's not all about the winning, it's looking to improve and be better. I hope she understands why I did it and down the road hopefully she'll appreciate it."

In a way, fighting for an Olympic repeat is the last challenge left for the team. They've won four Canadian championships and a world title. They won gold and were the first team to go through an Olympic tournament undefeated. But no Canadian curler has yet achieved the feat of successfully defending their Olympic championship.

"That would be part of it. It would be great to repeat, there's no question about it," Officer said. "But there's a lot of things that would happen between then. We'd love to get back to Scotties, and win a Scotties with Kaitlyn. We like the travelling that comes with it, and it's a little bit of just what we know."

Will the team have to battle against a letdown of sorts, after feeling the weight of that Olympic gold and the whirlwind that comes with being recognized everywhere they go?

"I think that's yet to be determined. We'll find out tonight," Officer mused, as the team prepared in Moncton to play in the Players' Championship, the final Grand Slam event of the season.

melissa.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 16, 2014 C7

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