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2014 Olympic profile: Jill Officer

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According to TSN on Sunday, North America defeated the World 36-24 at the Continental Cup of Curling from Las Vegas.

The event helped the Canadian Olympic curling teams led by skips Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg, Manitoba and Brad Jacobs of Sault. Ste. Marie, Ontario prepare for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.

For Team Jones, they will try to duplicate their success at the 2008 World Curling Championships in Vernon, British Columbia where they defeated Team Wang of China 7-4 in the gold medal game.

The Jennifer Jones team has been the most consistent Canadian curling team in the last decade. They have won four Scotties Tournament of Hearts since 2005.

Here is my interview with the Jones' second, Jill Officer of Winnipeg on Saturday, who is known for her upweight shots, an outstanding skill for any curler playing the second position.

How excited are you to compete for Canada at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi?

We are super excited. We just still have a hard time believing it sometimes that our dream came true going to the Olympics. We are really, really excited. We're just having a good time in Vegas with our teammates right now. We'll go home, pack up and pretty much head out a week later. It's coming up quick and we're just really looking forward to getting there and taking it all in.

I understand you and your teammates have been a little creative in raising funds to help your families get to Sochi. How have those endeavours been going at the present time?

It has been going unbelievable-- a lot better than we ever could have imagined. We have had support pouring from so many people, including our title sponsor, the World Financial Group. They have really stepped up and given our families some money. Across Canada, they raised money and everyone just threw some money in. They ended up giving us a cheque for $25,000. We were just flabbergasted. We're just so happy with how things are going. I mean it is $10,000-$12,000 a person and we have 12 people who are making arrangements to come and watch. It is a lot of money when you add it all up. It's great that we've been able to offset some of the costs. We have also been doing some fundraising online by selling our Olympic Trials jerseys. We've autographed them and selling them for auction on eBay. We're down to the last one. Jennifer's jersey just went on eBay (on Friday). We had a sendoff in Winnipeg last week, so we were able to raise a little bit of money from it is as well. We've been able to help them out to some degree, but it costs so much money that they will still have to put some money out.

How meaningful was it that you were able to play two very strong teams in Eve Muirhead of Great Britain and Margaretha Sigfridsson of Sweden in Las Vegas so close to Sochi?

It's nice to have the competiton and to have the competition games on arena ice and championship ice conditions. That's probably the biggest thing. We've played Eve and Margaretha a number of times over the years. You know, playing them a few weeks before the Olympics doesn't make a huge difference, but it's just nice to be on championship ice in arena ice conditions.

What did you learn from your team the last couple of days? You rebounded quite nicely with a 9-3 win over Sigfridsson after a 12-2 loss to Muirhead at the Continental Cup in Las Vegas.

We got behind early and struggled a little bit with the draw weights in the game against Muirhead. We just came out and were a little bit more determined maybe. I'm not really sure. We were just a little more ourselves.

What would you consider as your team's greatest strengths at the moment?

I don't know. We're in a good place. We're having fun. We're following our plan. We're confident in our plan. We're just going to continue to follow it and just look forward to getting to Sochi.

How much do you think your team will be able to draw from your World Championship gold medal that you won back in 2008?

Well, thankfully all of the girls on the team have world championship experience, including (third) Kaetlyn (Lawes) even though it was at the junior level, it is stll world championship experience. We can still draw from all of those experiences at the worlds because you're playing the countries as opposed to the provinces, and you're playng the countries as opposed to Team Muirhead or Team Sigfridsson. I don't know. I guess it has a little bit of a different feel but we can certainly draw on the fact that we've played in the World Championship before and hopefully that will be to our benefit.

Your team has a wealth of international experience but Kaetlyn has not joined you on top of the podium for a major international event. How meaningful would it be to win a gold medal at an Olympic Winter Games with her?

You know, Kaetlyn has been an unbelievable addition to our team. We just really enjoy having her on the team and she brings so much to the team, so much knowledge. She's very smart in the house and smart with strategy. We're really happy that things worked out the way they did and she's been part of our team. I don't think we'd want it any other way. To be able to win with Kaetlyn, and get all of us on top of the podium, would be very, very special.

For those interested in the Jennifer Jones jersey from the 2013 Canadian Olympic Curling Trials in Winnipeg, the current bid on eBay is at $908.93 Canadian and those interested have until Friday to make a bid. You can make a bid by clicking here.

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