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Drops broom, grabs laptop

Jones joins media to report on curling, eat junk food

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VANCOUVER -- So Jennifer Jones rolls into media row just a few minutes before they pipe in Kevin Martin and the lads.Awaiting the Canadian champion skip is curling scribe Al Cameron of the Calgary Herald, a grizzled veteran of such proceedings.

Cameron has the goods ready. "Twizzlers?" he offers.

Jones cracks a smile as big as a five-ender.

"I've brought my own," she says.

Fist pump.

Junk food on press row. It's official: Jennifer Jones is a sportswriter.

Jones has joined the ranks of ink-stained wretches to cover Olympic curling for Yahoo sports. That means analysis, blogs, live chats. And, for the record, Jones has already gained a new appreciation for the dark arts.

"Yeah, I do, actually," she said, while watching Martin dismantle the Danes 10-3 Friday, to improve to a perfect 5-0.

"The hours are pretty long, I gotta tell ya. And us athletes don't give you a lot of stuff to work with. But you do get the best seats in the house."

Some might wonder if the seat is too good, that Jones can literally reach out and touch an Olympic Games in which she wanted to be wearing the Maple Leaf, rather than the eventual Trials winner, Cheryl Bernard. But ever since Yahoo contacted her -- almost moments after bowing out of the Canadian trials in Edmonton last December -- Jones barely hesitated to drop her broom and grab a laptop.

"No, never. I wasn't reluctant," she said. "It's the Olympics. I actually thought it would be hard for the first couple of draws when I saw the team out there. But it wasn't, surprisingly. I think I'll always be disappointed about with how we played in Edmonton and not being here in Vancouver. But Cheryl Bernard and her team deserved to win that week.

"Definitely, I'd rather be on the ice," added Jones, who next month will wear Team Canada's colours at the World championships in Swift Current, Sask. "But to be part of the Olympic experience is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So I definitely wanted to come and I get a different perspective on it now.

"I get to do things that I wouldn't have gotten to do. I saw Canada's first gold medal live. I was at the freestyle (where Alex Bilodeau won gold) and was jumping up and down and high-fiving. I never would have got that experience. So you can't have it all, but I'm appreciative of what I've got."

But let's stop talking to Jones the curler and channel Jones the reporter.

On Bernard, who was 3-0 before Friday night's meeting with Denmark: "The women are managing the scoreboard very well and not letting any games get away from them and winning late. Cheryl has looked calm, cool and collected under pressure. She's made two draws to the four-foot to win two out of three games. But it will be interesting to see what happens if they get challenged with more rocks in play. So if I was scouting them I'd want to put the pressure on them."

On the undefeated Martin: "The men have been dominant. They have played outstanding. I cannot see anybody coming close to them right now. The other teams in the field are going to have to pick it up in order to contend."

Of course, Jones is the only media row member signing autographs and posing for pictures with fans. She spent the first part of the Games at the Richmond Oval, taking in some speedskating. Then it was off to a medal ceremony. "Now curling's started and we work three draws a day," she giggled. "So you can't do anything."

Welcome to a working stiff's world, Jennifer.

However, no curling analysis would be complete without getting Jones' take on the Norwegians Chinese checkers curling pants. "I like 'em," she said. "I think that anything that makes a statement in curling is good. You've got to try and think outside the box. I applaud them for going out on a limb."

Ironically, those might be the kind of pants a reporter might wear on Day 14 of the Games. Not Jones.

"I don't think," she concluded, "I could pull those off."

randy.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 20, 2010 D4

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