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Canada gives Officer farewell gift: Ford World Women’s Curling Championship gold medal

NORTH BAY, Ont. – Jennifer Jones and Team Canada won the Ford World Women’s Curling Championship in 11 ends Sunday and it was a fitting almost-farewell gift to long-time second Jill Officer.

When Olympic champion Anna Hasselborg’s final-rock pick attempt slid harmlessly past Canada’s shot rock, giving Jones, Officer, third Kaitlyn Lawes and lead Dawn McEwen a 7-6 win, the foursome hugged and fought back tears as a sold-out Memorial Gardens erupted in celebration.

“I’m just so thrilled to be able to stand on the top of the podium with these girls one more time,” Jones said after the team won its second world championship, the first coming in 2008. “I just love (Officer) to death and now she gets to go out as world champ and we get to do that with her so I’m just so happy.”

Officer has announced she will not be returning to the team next year. She does, however, still have two Grand Slam events to play with them.

“I don’t even know if I have the words to describe it, I just can’t believe this ending to my career,” said Officer as she fought back tears.

“Unbelieveable,” Jones said of winning a second world title. “Just this crowd and the atmosphere and all our families are here and Jill’s last worlds, couldn’t really paint a better picture. Just to be world champion, you pinch yourself and we’ve able to do it a couple of times. And to win the Olympics. You just feel so privileged to do it and to do it back in Canada.”

Jennifer Jones and her longtime teammate Jill Officer celebrate their victory on Sunday. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Playing in front of a noisy, enthusiastic crowd of 3,919 (total attendance for the event was 69,391, setting a record for a Canada-hosted world women’s championship) that was, naturally, pro-Canadian, it took Jones four ends of cat-and-mouse hits, draws and near misses to finally get the deuce they were looking for.

There was a sudden, but brief scoring eruption as Sweden countered with three in the fifth and Canada came back with two in six. After forcing Sweden to take one in seven, Canada blanked the eighth, scored two in nine and looked like they may win in 10. But Hasselborg, showing why she is the Olympic champion made a brilliant last rock, tight double for two, forcing the extra end.

“I’d rather lose a final when you’re playing great,” Hasselborg said of her team. “I’m crazy proud of my girls and how they performed, for battling through this week. We came (to North Bay) straight from the Olympics, and we showed that it’s possible to come to a final after the Olympics. I’m really proud of my team’s performance. We knew that it was going to be a tough game because they had hammer (in the first end). We took it to an extra end, and I’m pretty proud.”

It was a game befitting two Olympic championship teams. Jones and Co. won in 2014 and Hasselborg’s team won this year. Oddly enough, the game ended on consecutive misses by the skips. Jones came up short of the hog line with her attempt to put up a guard and Hasselborg missed her pick, but both shots were on the left side of the sheet where neither team had played much.

“I threw it perfect. We didn’t put down the right ice. It was a guess. We didn’t play anything on that side. I really thought it was there. But it’s an unbelievable feeling playing in front of this crowd. The only thing that would have topped it would have been to win.”

Jones, Lawes, Officer, McEwen, alternate Shannon Birchard and coaches Wendy Morgan and Elaine Dagg-Jackson, had finished first in
the round-robin at 12-0 and beat the U.S. 9-7 in their semifinal.

A gold-medal hug for Jennifer Jones, left, and Kaitlyn Lawes. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

It’s the second straight year Canada has won the world women’s championship with an unbeaten record after Team Rachel Homan did it last year in Beijing with 13 straight victories. It was Canada’s world-leading 17th gold medal since the world women’s championship began in 1979.

Hasselborg, backed by vice-skip Sara McManus, second Agnes Knochenhauer, lead Sofia Mabergs, alternate Jennie Wåhlin and coach Maria Prytz and Peja Lindhom, went 10-2 in the round-robin and beat Russia 7-6 in their semifinal.

Officer, who is taking a break from four-player curling, was named 2018 winner of the player-voted Frances Brodie award. Named in honour of the woman who was the driving forced behind establishment of the first world women’s curling championship in 1979, the award is given to the player who best exemplified the traditional curling values of skill, honesty, fair play, friendship and sportsmanship.

Officer is only the second Canadian to win the award since it was introduced inn 1989. Allison Kreviazuk received it in 2014.

“That’s very humbling and very special that my peers look at me like that because, to me, that’s one of the most important things,” Officer said.

Victoria Moiseeva of Russia won the bronze medal earlier in the day, scoring two in the 10th end to beat Jamie Sinclair of the United States 6-5.

This story will be available in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2018worldwomen/?lang=fr