Ottawa-brewed curler to challenge for American Olympic berth

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Jamie Sinclair. Photo: Rich Harmer.

By Martin Boyce

Three years after conceding her right to compete as a Canadian on the world stage, curler Jamie Sinclair finds herself at the height of her game and living out her dream – battling for a spot on the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team.

The Anchorage, Alaska-born, Manotick-bred and St. Paul, Minnesota-based curler is set to challenge two other rinks at the Nov. 11-18 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Omaha, Nebraska in hopes of representing her birth country.

Sinclair has taken an unorthodox path to success – one that’s been brewing since her father passed down the tradition when she was nine – but says it was 10 years ago when she first realized that her dream of becoming a professional curler could become reality.

“It was that gold medal game of the Canada (Winter) Games in 2007 when we won,” she recalls. “That was kind of the turning point when I was like, ‘Wow, I really like this – I really like winning and I can kind of do this.’”

Then a 15-year-old, Sinclair had been competing alongside Ottawa native Rachel Homan, but began skipping her own rink and entering more and more competitive tournaments.

Quickly refining her skills and rising up the ranks, she skipped the Carleton University rink to a 2014 Canadian Interuniversity Sport Championship win.

Expecting to compete in the 2015 Winter Universiade, Sinclair’s career took a surprising turn. She got a phone call from the director of the U.S. High Performance Program offering her the opportunity to curl south of the border.

“It was a tough decision,” she recounts. “I had to think about it a lot but I finally came to the conclusion that it was just too good of an opportunity to pass up – an opportunity to take my game to the next level, play at the higher level, be fully funded, and get the resources of a top team in a country.”

Having already won the 2017 U.S.A National Curling Championships earlier this year, Sinclair and her team are coming off their biggest win of the season at the Sept. 14-17 Shorty Jenkins Classic World Curling Tour event in Cornwall.

“We weren’t playing to our full potential,” she explains. “But even so, it was interesting to see that, with our consistency and our strategy, we were able to pull off the win and, looking back, we still had some room for improvement.”

With the big win, Sinclair – who also runs her own curling video log on YouTube, sharing behind the scenes of her curling life – says she and her rink will head into the Olympic trials with a boost of confidence and ready for a battle each game.

“It’s my first Olympic trials,” she notes. “There’s a lot of pressure in that kind of tournament. We just have to take one game at a time and not get ahead of ourselves.”

If all goes well for her at trials, she’ll head to her first Olympics where a reunion with Homan could be in store. The 25-year-old says she’s excited and looks forward to that potential matchup between former teammates at the highest level in the world.

She says she’d shed tears of joy and feel “a mess of emotions” just competing at the Olympics – her ultimate dream and would-be cherry on top of an already successful young career.

“There’s been a lot of ups and downs, but I get to do what I love, everyday,” she adds.

“Right now, I’m a full-time curler and that’s been my dream forever so I have no complaints.”

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