30 April 2019

Birchard set to soak up more Jones wisdom in Beijing

© WCF / Jeffrey Au

The Manitoban will join Jennifer Jones for the Grand Final in Beijing.

Shannon Birchard cannot wait for another chance to learn from the “incredibly special” Jennifer Jones after being named as second for the Canadian legend again at the Curling World Cup Grand Final.

Birchard, who has had a tremendous season throwing second stones for Team Kerri Einarson, was first named as Team Jones’ alternate when they won the World Women’s Curling Championship in North Bay a year ago. She now has a chance to fulfil a different role for the 2014 Olympic champions in the Chinese capital.

Weeks after securing her maiden Scotties title, 24-year-old Birchard opened up about last year’s eye-opening experience with Jones which provided her a chance to live out her dreams.

“It was and still is so exhilarating playing with someone with her accomplishments and experience,” Birchard reflected.

“I saw the game with new eyes, and I was able to learn so much from her. Those few weeks playing with her matured me as a player and I am so grateful for the opportunity because it allowed me to live out my dreams and opened the door for me to play with my current team.

© WCF / Jeffrey Au

“It is also incredibly special to get to know her beyond what you see on the ice.”

Birchard will be making her Curling World Cup debut in the Grand Final, with Team Jones having replaced Suzhou winners Team Rachel Homan at the Shougang Arena.

The Winnipeg native says she is reveling in the chance to wear the maple leaf and admits she has been playing close attention to the first three legs of the inaugural series.

“I have been keeping in touch with the competition from afar,” she says. “It is always a huge honour to represent Canada and wear the maple leaf on your back.

“Competing for prize money is an awesome bonus and adds an extra layer of intrigue, however, representing your country, Canada no less, carries more weight than any financial gain.

“There might be a few nerves, but not many people get the opportunity to travel across the world to do what they love. You’ve got to be grateful and appreciate the experience to fully enjoy it and to play your best!”

Team Einarson have hit the ground running this season and made multiple headlines due to the quirk of all four team members being former skips.

Birchard insists that a Curling World Cup event for the 2019-2020 season is definitely on the team’s radar.

© WCF / Jeffrey Au

“Personality-wise, we’re all relatively easy going, so off the bat, we knew we’d get along. There’s also something to be said about starting with a blank slate that almost makes it easier to build something super strong.

“We were never ‘four skips’, we were four players with a common goal. Sure, our past positions would lend us some experience when needed, but we had a ton of respect for the positions we were taking on and knew we had to perfect new skill sets to make it work.

“As a team, we would love to have the opportunity to play in a Curling World Cup event next season. High pressure events like that really put your team to the test and any opportunity to wear the maple leaf is one we would be thrilled to take.”

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