For Jennifer Jones, the Scotties Tournament of Hearts experience never gets old.
“No, it almost gets better because you keep thinking it might be your last one, then you get to go again,” said Jones, after serving as the guest speaker at the Central Alberta Sport Development Centre Breakfast of Champions on Thursday morning at Westerner Park.
Jones, of course, has attended more than her share of Scotties events as one of the greatest female curlers Canada has ever produced. But the four-time Canadian champion will have to earn her way back to the 2012 tournament — set for Feb. 18 to 26 at the Centrium — after losing to Regina’s Amber Holland in the 2011 Scotties final as the skip of Team Canada.
“Maybe I’ll never get to go to another one, but if I don’t it’s definitely been a dream come true over and over again,” added the 2008 world champion.
The smart money is on Jones getting back to the Scotties sooner than later, although she’ll have to win the Manitoba title to qualify for 2012.
The Winnipeg skip has her team atop the World Curling Tour women’s Order of Merit and the foursome has earned $15,107 this season, good for 10th on the money list heading into the Red Deer Classic starting today at the Red Deer Curling Centre and Michener Hill — all of this without regular second Jill Officer.
Officer is pregnant — with a baby due in December — and will return to the team in January. Joelle Sabourin and long-time fifth Jennifer Clarke-Rouire have filled in at second, with Sabourin joining Jones, third Kaitlyn Lawes and lead Dawn Askin this weekend.
“We’ve been doing OK this year,” said Jones. “Obviously there have been adjustments made but so far we’ve done fairly well and we’re looking forward to getting on the ice here.”
Jones captured the 2007 Classic title and has always considered the Red Deer event one of the finest on the World Tour.
“It’s a huge event. They always do a great job here,” said the skip. “It’s always a great field with a lot of the top teams in the country and some international teams as well. We’ll have to go out and play well and hopefully give ourselves a chance to make the playoffs.”
As for the 2012 Red Deer Scotties, Jones — who takes on Lisa Eyamie of Calgary today at 12:15 p.m. at the Curling Centre — implored fans to purchase tickets and experience the event as a whole.
“It’s a completely different experience live.”
Red Deer Scotties host committee chair Sherri Ryckman said roughly 2,000 ticket packages have sold so far.
“Sales are going very well. They’ve definitely picked up over the last month,” she said. “It’s getting down to crunch time and we really want to focus on filling the rest of the seats.”
Ryckman introduced new ticket options on Thursday, including the Take 5 packages that will include either the first five draws for $99 or the last five draws for $149. The tickets go on sale on Saturday.
The Old Classic full event pass is still available for $329 and full event parking passes (for $80) and opening banquet tickets (at $80 apiece or $600 for a table) will be available on Saturday.
Another new option is the Rocks in Your Socks promotion, a $39 purchase for two tickets to a single draw between the first and 17th draws. The tickets will be available on Nov. 26.
Scotties tickets can be purchased by calling 1-877-985-CURL or online at curling.ca/tickets.