Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Officer, Lawes soak up Oly whirlwind

Members of Jones curling team brace for pre-Sochi schedule

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It wasn't until Jill Officer heard her husband's voice rising above the euphoria of the Roar of the Rings finale that the enormity of the situation hit her.

Just a few minutes earlier, skip Jennifer Jones had thrown the Olympic berth-clinching stone and Officer, longtime second on one of the most successful teams in Canadian curling history, was standing in the middle of the ice. Waiting.

For what, she wasn't sure.

After all, it's not every day you punch your ticket to the Sochi Olympics.

"I remember standing on the ice waiting. The media was interviewing Jen. I heard my name and I turned around and looked and my husband (Devlin Hinchey) had come down to the sideboards and he was standing there with my dad (John Officer)," she said Wednesday at the Free Press News Café.

"As soon as I gave my husband a hug I was crying and my dad, too.

"He was quite a good hockey goalie in his day so he gets the whole athlete mentality. He was pretty excited, too. That's when I really broke down."

After the team had been paraded down the ice and received their medals and Team Canada jackets, Lawes had a similar moment.

"We were doing some media and in the scrum I kept saying, 'Where's my mom (Cheryl)?' She couldn't get down from the stands yet. Finally when she did I ran over and gave her a hug. She was just beside herself and bawling her eyes out. I had to say, 'Stop, this is a good thing!' " she said.

The days since Team Jennifer Jones' 8-4 win over Sherry Middaugh's rink have been a blur for the two of them, Jones and their lead, Dawn McEwen.

Even though they scored three points in the second end and never relinquished the lead, Officer said there were too many big-point ends throughout the week for them to get comfortable.

"We kept saying to each other, 'Lets' stay focused, there's lots of game left, everybody make their shots.' We kept focusing on the process to make sure we didn't let loose," she said.

The whirlwind will continue this weekend when they travel to Calgary to meet with Canadian Olympic officials to discuss their pre-Sochi schedule.

They travelled to China in September so they're no strangers to resetting their bodies' clocks. (There's a 10-hour time difference in Sochi.)

Estimate

They estimate they'll leave in the last week of January and make a couple of training stops along the way because they won't be able to practise in Sochi until the official pre-event practice ice is made available.

"We're trying to minimize the numbers of days where we're not practising," Officer said.

Lawes said curling in the 2003 Canada Winter Games in Bathurst-Campbellton, N.B. -- a "mini" Olympics --gave her a taste of what the real thing will be like.

"'We got to walk in the opening ceremonies so you get that feeling of being part of a bigger team. We got to watch some of the other sports and we became friends with the other athletes. I think that's what the Olympics are all about," she said.

"For young kids who have the opportunity to represent their province and wear their province's colours, there's no better feeling because that's the biggest thing you can play for at that time."

Officer said she hadn't given too much thought to how she might participate in the wheeling and dealing among athletes of pins and uniforms.

"Maybe I'll trade for a hockey jersey," she said.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 12, 2013 0

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