In preparation for the 2019-2020 season, the World Curling Federation has been speaking to some of the world’s top athletes, finding out how they got involved with curling, who inspires them and what motivates them to get out onto the ice and be the best they can be.
Canadian curler Jill Officer has been a household name for decades. For more than 20 years she played with Jennifer Jones out of Manitoba, Canada, winning title after title since they were teens.
Officer, who won Olympic gold in Sochi 2014, alongside teammates skip Jennifer Jones, third Kaitlyn Lawes and lead Dawn McEwen, became the only women’s team to ever go undefeated at an Olympic Winter Games, in curling. She has also represented Canada in seven World Women’s championships – winning gold in 2008 and 2018, plus one silver and one bronze. After winning the world championship in 2018, Officer was the recipient of the Frances Brodie Sportsmanship Award and afterwards announced she would be stepping away from playing competitively.
Since then, she has been elected as a member of the World Curling Federation’s Athlete Commission and has been involved in different aspects of the game off the ice.
How did you get involved in curling?
My mom was the coordinator of a junior curling league at a club near my house. Plus, she curled a few times a week so I was always hanging around the curling club. When I was ten, there was a team that needed a player so I started playing regularly.
How did you and Jennifer first start curling together? Did junior success happen quickly?
When I was 16, Jen approached me at a curling club here in Winnipeg and asked if I was interested in curling with her. I had been skipping my own team without much success, so this was a great opportunity as Jen had had some success already by then. In our first year together, we lost the provincial final. We won the second year and won the Nationals in our third year, so yeah, success happened fast.
You and Jen are the ultimate dynamic duo. What do you think was special about your relationship to play together for more than 20 years?
I actually feel that Jennifer and I are quite different and opposite in many ways, but that is exactly why I think it worked so well for so long. Obviously we had some similarities and common goals, but we each brought different things and perspectives to the team because we were different.
What is your most memorable win and why?
It’s hard not say winning the Olympics, for obvious reasons. However, there are two other wins that are really memorable as well. One was winning the Olympic Trials in 2013. We had tried two times previous to win the trials and had been a favourite to win, but never succeeded. In 2013, we were prepared and on a mission. Plus, playing in front of the home town crowd in Winnipeg was unreal and incredibly special. The other memorable one for me was winning the silver medal at the worlds in 2015. As disappointing as it was, looking back, it is amazing to me that we found a way to get that far only one year after winning the Olympics.
Toughest loss and why – what did you learn?
Oooo, this is a tough one actually. Honestly, the first one that comes to mind is this most recent Olympic Trials in 2017 where we lost the semi-final. I wanted so bad to go to the Olympics again and try to defend our gold medal from 2014. We had such a great experience I wanted to do it again. I am grateful that we got to do it once, but that’s what made me want to go again even more. But I also think it was difficult for me because I knew I was nearing the end of my career and that it was likely the last chance I might have to go.
Thank you Jill for the insight to your curling career so far.
Read part two of the interview here.
You can follow Jill on Twitter.