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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.