Jennifer Jones is ready to stop being a curling reporter and start throwing rocks again.
For a third straight year, Jones and teammates Cathy Overton Clapham, Jill Officer and Dawn Askin are representing Canada at the women’s world curling championship, which opens Saturday in Swift Current, Sask.
Jones’s Winnipeg foursome didn’t win the Olympic trials in December. Cheryl Bernard’s team from Calgary captured the berth and earned a silver medal in Vancouver last month.
So Jones’s Olympic experience was that of a celebrity reporter. She produced curling content for Yahoo, went to Cypress Mountain to watch freestyle skier Alexandre Bilodeau win Canada’s first gold medal and gave singer Michael Buble curling lessons.
“So many people call it the dark side,” Jones said of her journalism stint. “I find that funny. The dark side was actually not so dark.”
She said it was interesting to have a different perspective on the Games.
“I saw Alex Bilodeau win his medal and that was probably my highlight because it was such an exciting moment in Canadian sport history,” she said. “It was pretty cool I’ve got to tell you. People were jumping up and down and spraying their beers.”
While Jones would rather have been curling for Olympic gold, she says she didn’t feel pangs of regret watching Bernard’s team compete.
“I wasn’t sure what it would be like to go there and not be playing, but it surprisingly was pretty good,” she said. “I’m not going to lie. It would have been fun to be on the ice, but it was easier than I thought it would be.”
Her analysis of Olympic curling games allowed the 35-year-old corporate lawyer to scout many teams who will be her opposition in Swift Current. China, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Russia and Scotland will field largely the same teams.
Anette Norberg’s gold-medal team from Sweden will not be in Swift Current, however. Norberg passed on the world championship to focus on the Olympics, so the berth went to national runner-up Cecilia Ostlund.
In the 12-team field in Swift Current, the top four advance to the playoff round. The semifinal is March 27 and the final is March 28.
The men’s world championship is April 3-11 in Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy, where Kevin Koe’s Edmonton rink will wear the Maple Leaf.
Canada has won 15 world titles in the 31-year history of the women’s tournament.
Jones, Overton-Clapham and Officer have played in three previous world championships (2005, 2008, 2009). Askin joined the team in 2007. They won their first world title together in Vernon, B.C. in 2008. Jones finished out of the medals in Paisley, Scotland (2005), and Gangneung, South Korea (2009).
That record indicates Jones performs better at home than abroad, but she feels her team played well in the preliminary round in South Korea last year before going cold in the playoffs. Jones also points out that her team recently won tournaments in Switzlerland and Norway.
“It’s more fun to play in a world championship at home, absolutely,” she said. “Korea was probably one of our better round robins. We lost an unfortunate game and then we just didn’t play well in the playoffs which is uncharacteristic of our team. As far as the round robin goes, it’s probably the best our team has played in a world championship round robin.”