TORONTO — Marc Kennedy and Jill Officer are savouring every last curling shot these days.
Their competitive curling days are numbered.
Kennedy and Officer both announced earlier this year that they’d be stepping away from the game they’ve played most of their lives. Their farewell tour has been rather impressive — it continued Sunday afternoon in Toronto.
Kennedy, alongside teammates Kevin Koe, Ben Hebert and Brent Laing, defeated Sweden’s Niklas Edin to claim this year’s Players’ Championship.
Officer, alongside Jennifer Jones, Dawn McEwen and Kailtlyn Lawes, came up short in the final against Jamie Sinclair. The loss snapped a 27-game winning streak for the team dating back to the Scotties, then into the world championship, where Team Jones went undefeated.
Koe and Sinclair cashed in big time, winning $ 30,000 each.
It was one of the last times these current iterations of the Koe and Jones rinks took to the ice.
Koe and Hebert are joining forces with B.J. Neufeld and Colton Flasch to form a new team next year.
Laing is joining John Epping’s team. Jocelyn Peterman will take over Officer’s role on Team Jones next year.
With just one last stop on this year’s Grand Slam Tour, Officer and Kennedy have a few rocks left to throw in careers that have both spanned over two decades.
Kennedy says while many learned of his decision recently, those closest to him have known for quite a while.
“It was the beginning of this season I knew. I knew in my heart,” he said. “To be honest I think having that clarity is one of the reasons I’ve been able to play well.”
Kennedy says his body is worn down after years and years of curling — that’s the biggest reason for stepping away from the game.
“I’ve had some difficult injuries to deal with week in and week out. I don’t want to do that anymore. I don’t want a hip replacement at 45 years old,” he said.
But as banged up as he is, Kennedy says he might not be done just yet. When asked about this being it for his curling career, Kennedy didn’t entirely dismiss the possibility of an eventual comeback.
“If this question was a month ago, I would have said that I was close to done for good,” he said.
“But the responses I’ve gotten from people and the way I’ve played is changing that. There’s a better chance I’ll be coming back now. And putting more time into getting healthier.”
Kennedy is an Olympic champion. He’s a three-time Canadian champion and two-time world champion. He’s won everything there is to win in the game.
The Players’ Championship win Sunday was extra special for Koe and Kennedy.
In their first year together, on a team skipped by John Morris, Koe and Kennedy won the Players’ Championship.
That was 15 years ago.
“Full circle, hey?” Kennedy said. “Kevin and I go way back.”
Koe had nothing but praise for Kennedy after the team’s win.
“What can you say? He’s one of the top curlers in the world, a better teammate and he’s won so much,” Koe said.
Officer and Jones together through it all
For the last 23 years, Officer and Jones have been together on the ice and there have been a lot of highs and lows over those years.
They’ve won a lot together too. Six Canadian titles. Two world titles. Olympic gold.
Despite not being able to win the Players’ Championship Sunday in Toronto, Officer said the entire week was filled with a lot of laughs on the ice.
“I just had some fun this week. It’s going to be hard in a couple of weeks in Calgary [at the Champions Cup],” Officer said. “I’m looking forward to playing a few more games with the girls.”
Every time Officer has taken to the ice this season, she’s been trying to be as present as possible, squeezing in as many memorable moments as her curling career comes to an end.
“My perspective since I’ve told the girls at the beginning of the season has been to soak up every moment on the ice. And it’s been working well,” Officer said. “We’ve had a spectacular season.”
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