Featured Curling Athlete: Joëlle Sabourin

Opportunity came knocking for Joëlle Sabourin when Jennifer Jones’s second, Jill Officer, told her teammates last spring that she was expecting her first baby in December.

Joëlle Sabourin playing for Quebec at the 2009 Scotties (Photo Andrew Klaver)

Jones, third Kaitlyn Lawes and lead Dawn Askin were, of course, thrilled for their long-time second. But they also realized that Officer’s maternity leave would create a rather gaping hole in their lineup for the first half of the curling season, a schedule that includes three Grand Slam events as well as the Capital One Canada Cup of Curling beginning Nov. 30 in Cranbrook, B.C. Adding to the problem was that just about every potential replacement had already found a team for the 2011-12 season. Except one, that is. Joëlle Sabourin, a seven-time participant in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts (twice as an alternate) was planning to take this year off, so she was available. Plus, she had a history with the Jones team; she was the alternate for Jenn Hanna’s 2005 Ontario team that featured Askin at second – the team that lost the Scotties final that year to none other than Jones, in St. John’s. Add to all that her talent and ability — she can throw the big-weight peels that Officer throws on a regular basis for the Jones team — and it was a natural fit. Sabourin, one of the most well-liked players in the game, is no stranger to top-level curling. In addition to all of those trips to the Scotties (including a second-team all-star award in 2009 at Victoria, playing lead for Marie-France Larouche), she also won the national mixed championship in 2001 throwing lead rocks for Jean-Michel Ménard. Sabourin, an accomplished track athlete growing up in Quebec, is a former North American champ in Tae Kwon Do and is in the process of pursuing a black belt. Birthplace: Hull, Que. Hometown: Gatineau, Que. Current Team: Team Jennifer Jones Position: Second Delivery: Right Nickname: Joe Quick Hits with Joëlle Sabourin Do you have any superstitions? “I always wear my grandmother’s chain.” Three people, living or not, whom you would invite to a dinner party. “Elvis, Bill Gates and Muhammad Ali.” If you could be a star any other sport, what would it be, and why? “Kickboxing or golf. Since 1994, I have been involved in team sports only. These would be individual sports and would be a major change.” If you could change any rule in curling, which one would it be, and why? “The four-rock rule. I would add another two rocks (each second’s first rock).” What music do you like to listen to before a game? “Billboard’s Top 10 and ’80s music.” Favourite:Website? “Tripadvisor.com” — Order from Tim Hortons? “I rarely go, but would be a breakfast sandwich with egg and cheese.” — Vacation destination? “Bora Bora.” — Junk food? “Frozen yogurt.” Do you have any pet peeves? “Walking with my zipper down.” Person who had the most influence on your curling career. And why? “I have a few! The first one is my dad, who got me into the sport. Dad and Mom encouraged me every year of my curling career. Then I have the support of my friends, co-workers and family. They make my life easier when I go away for training or bonspiels. There is also Earle Maguire, a coach in Ottawa. He helped me technically and mentally. I think because of a mix of all of them I became who I am now.” First thing on your Bucket List? “Live life to its very best and enjoy the moment.” Favourite pastime between draws at cashspiels? “Napping and reading.” Mixed doubles in the Olympics — thumbs up? Thumbs down? And why? “I would rather see men’s and women’s full teams.” One thing most people don’t know about you? “My average golf drive (when I play twice a year) is 275 yards.” Your ideal shot to win an Olympic gold medal: “Draw the pin with a bit of help from the sweepers!”