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Quebec’s Sabourin joins Team Jennifer Jones

Pregnancy sidelines hard-throwing Jill Officer

Joelle Sabourin, second from left, with Team Osborne

First, Winnipeg got the Jets. Now, the world’s best women’s curling team – based in the Peg, of course – gets a bit of joie de vivre this fall.

Winnipeg curling star Jill Officer started the ball rolling with an online reveal – her first pregnancy!

Officer then told The Curling News that Quebec curling veteran Joelle Sabourin will replace her on the powerhouse Jennifer Jones foursome this fall and winter, in tandem with regular Jones alternate Jennifer Clark-Rouire.

Officer’s due date is December 2 – right in the middle of the all-important Canada Cup in Cranbrook, BC – and with the curling season starting up well past the midway part of her pregnancy, it was decided that she will sit out the first half of the season entirely.

Officer plans to “stay loose” throughout the fall and is hoping to rejoin the team in time for the Manitoba women’s provincial scheduled for Portage La Prairie, January 25-29. Should they qualify, it will be Jones’ first provincial appearance since 2008.

Jill Officer (left) with Team Jones last February

After running through a draft list of substitute options, Sabourin was chosen by Team Jones as Officer’s replacement due to a couple of factors: her previous intention of not competing in 2011-2012 – so much for that! – and her friendship with Jones lead Dawn Askin.

Askin, an Ottawa native, was a teammate with Sabourin in 2005. The Quebecer was the alternate for Ontario’s Jenn Hanna – with Askin at lead – when Jones made that legendary in-off double-takeout to win the Canadian women’s championship final in stunning fashion.

Sabourin has competed in five Canadian women’s championships since 1997, including 2008 and 2009 with skip Marie-France Larouche. Her 2011 squad, skipped by Chantal Osborne, lost the Quebec final 8-7 to Larouche.

Sabourin confirmed that she will play in the major World Curling Tour events – plus the Canada Cup – while Clark-Rouire will fill Officer’s shoes at the smaller tour stops and also in the early rounds of Manitoba women’s playdowns.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity and an honour to play with these guys,” Sabourin told The Curling News.

“When Dawn called me… I had recently made my decision not to play next year and I was okay with it, but then she called soon afterward and asked me and I said ‘You’re kidding me, right?’

“I’m gonna work hard on my side – I’m not Jill, but I can throw hard and I’ll be practicing my peels for sure. I was biking because I have a race coming up… but now I’ve added kickboxing, four days a week, also to get ready.”

Team Osborne photo courtesy of Curling Quebec

Team Jones photo by Andrew Klaver / Kruger Products Ltd.

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Curling stars for SickKids in Toronto

Olympic and world champions confirmed for second annual SickKids Foundation fundraiser

Only 20 spots remain – so act fast

Toronto, ON – No less than 30 of the world’s top curling athletes are confirmed to participate in the second annual Capital One Celebrity Bonspiel, a unique curling tournament which offers single-entry participants the chance to curl for fun with Olympic and world champion competitors.

Just 20 spaces are left for the event, which runs  June 3 and 4 at the Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club.

2010 Olympic curling champion John Morris (Edmonton, Alta.) and 2006 Olympic champion Brad Gushue (St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador) will be there, along with Scotland’s Eve Muirhead, the world’s only four-time world junior champion, and Cissi Ostlund and Sara Carlsson, the reigning world women’s champions from Sweden’s Team Anette Norberg.

The reigning Ontario champion skips will also participate. Veteran Glenn Howard of Coldwater is a three-time world champion while recent GP Car and Home Players’ Champion finalist Rachel Homan of Ottawa has turned the curling world upside down at the age of 21.

A special, anonymous celebrity skip will also be appearing to captain the Capital One team.

Last year’s inaugural event raised over $68,000 for SickKids Foundation, the fundraising arm of Toronto’s world-renowned Hospital for Sick Children.

“Raising funds for the SickKids Foundation is a natural fit for Capital One as we strive to help Canadian children succeed in life,” said Ian Cunningham, Chief Marketing Officer, Capital One Canada. “Curling fans continue to be fantastic supporters of charitable causes and we are proud to help them raise monies for the SickKids Foundation, while also providing a great weekend of curling fun.”

Other celebrity curling imports include Winnipeg superstars Jennifer Jones, Mike McEwen and world champion Reid Carruthers from Team Jeff Stoughton.

“We have also confirmed Kim Schneider from Amber Holland’s Saskatchewan team,” said event co-chair Jeff Steski. “That means we have at least one player from every playoff team at this past year’s Brier and Scotties (Canadian) championships.”

The weekend kicks off with a junior curling clinic on June 3, hosted by the Capital One Rocks and Rings school educational program. The celebrity competitors will then meet their “new” teammates at an evening mixer.

Saturday, June 4 features the Celebrity Bonspiel, consisting of three four-end curling games, followed by the event finals and the closing gala dinner.

Registration for the 2011 Capital One Celebrity Bonspiel is conducted entirely online via celebritybonspiel.com

Fundraising and sponsorship inquiries are welcome by sending an email to: sickkidsbonspiel@rogers.com

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Election 2011

Canada votes; our political curling notes

Subscribe now! I command thee! Oh, and go vote.

Good day curling fans. We have something intensely Canadian today.

We have talked politics before – Canadian, American and international – and always with some degree of a curling angle.

The most notorious was our Curling Politics post from September of 2008, which essentially endorsed Prime Minister and curling-mad Conservative leader Stephen Harper (photo). This garnered a few critical comments, including a scolding from one reader who declared “There’s no place for politics in the the curling magazines of the nation.”

Oh, please.

Another reader hoped that our “choice of the Conservatives (had) a little more depth to it than the quality of curling-related press releases.”

Okay, fair point.

Within a month, our Curling Politics II posting attempted to quantify our support for, quite simply, all things curling. When we compared two different government curling grants, for example, we suggested that:

The question now seems to centre around identifying ‘good’ pork from ‘bad’ pork. When it comes to curling, says us, it’s all good.

We shall not spend much time on the issue of today’s Canadian federal election, which is the third in the last six years and fourth since 2004 (sigh). But in the spirit of the above, we decided to see if there were any recent and substantive “curling” reasons to support one party over another… with that word – substantive – not including personal appearances at curling championships (sorry, PMH).

Indeed, we might have found something. According to the website for Canada’s Economic Action Plan, often referred to as the stimulus spending spree that followed the recent U.S.-driven economic recession, the search term “curling” returns a whopping 11 pages of results. Apparently the ruling Conservatives haven’t ignored The Roaring Game, as this results sample indicates:

Upgrades to Capital Winter Club (NB)… Replace the roofing at the North Grenville Curling Club (ON)… St. Benedict (SK) curling rink upgrades… Rehabilitation of the Rideau Curling Club (ON)… Construction of a three-rink curling arena connected to the recreational centre in Chapais (PQ)… Modernization of the twin arenas and curling rink in Whitecourt (AB)… Upgrade to the Victoria Curling Club (BC)… London Curling Club (ON) – Replacement of windows and lighting… Upgrades to Granite and Fort Rouge Curling Clubs (MB)… Start of construction on Maniwaki multipurpose curling centre (PQ)… Upgrades to the Cornwall and Montague Curling Clubs (PEI)…

The list goes on and on, and this might be food for thought, Canadian curling fans… but that’s all. This year The Curling News will not endorse any political party, although we will urge all Canadian citizens to do their civic duty and go vote.

In the words of one of the country’s better political writers, “it is better to risk buyer’s remorse than to let others do the shopping in your place.”