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Officer's pregnancy forces Jones team overhaul

Ferbey weighing Russia's offer

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JILL OFFICER is pregnant.

The all-star second for Jennifer Jones confirmed Tuesday that she is due on Dec. 2 and will miss at least the first three months of the 2011-12 curling season.

"It's going to mean a bit of a different year for me and the team," Officer said. "But we're going with it. We made a plan and hopefully I will be able to play in the MCT tour championship and the provincials, which are both in January."

For the first time in four years, the Jones team will have to compete in the Manitoba provincials this winter because they are no longer defending Canadian champions. Their bid for a fourth straight national women's curling championship was derailed in Charlottetown last February with a loss in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts final to Saskatchewan's Amber Holland.

Officer said she will miss at least eight events on the upcoming cash tour between September and December. The Jones foursome will continue to curl in her absence with two temporary replacements they have recruited -- longtime Jones fifth Jennifer Clark-Rouire and former Quebec women's champion Joelle Sabourin.

Officer said Sabourin will take over her spot at second on the squad in five events, while Clark-Rouire will play lead for Jones in at least three events, with regular Jones lead Dawn Askin moving to second for those events.

Meanwhile, Randy Ferbey, the four-time world men's curling champion and six-time Brier champ from Edmonton, confirmed on Tuesday that he's been approached by the Russian Curling Federation to take over as coach of their struggling men's program and get it on track for the 2014 Winter Olympics, which will be hosted by the Russians in Sochi.

"Let's put it this way: it's in the works," said Ferbey before heading out for a round of golf. "They're just a little vague with their description of everything. I haven't got what I wanted to get out of it yet. They upped the offer a couple of days ago and now I have to make a decision."

There will be a number of factors that have nothing to do with money that enter into that decision, he added.

For instance, it would mean his own curling career would have to be put on hold; the 52-year-old was planning to curl on an outfit featuring longtime teammate Dave Nedohin along with Ted Appelman and Brendan Melnyk.

Perhaps the biggest stumbling block will be establishing a level of trust with the Russians, whose foray into hiring Canadians to play and coach last season didn't go so well for the Canadians when Winnipeggers Jason Gunnlaugson, Tyler Forrest and Justin Richter were dismissed in late November after signing lucrative contracts to curl for the Russians and get citizenship to be able to represent the country in the Olympics.

As well, Winnipeg's Patti Wuthrich was hired to coach the team and she kept that job after the players were let go. But since then, she's cut her ties with the Russians.

"Absolutely, it concerns me," admitted Ferbey. "I'm flattered that they called me, but I don't know.

"Realistically, it doesn't make a lot of sense. I still want to curl, I have a real good business here, so they have to make it real attractive for me to jump at it."

-- with files from Allen Cameron

of Postmedia News

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 1, 2011 C9

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