Jennifer Jones to represent Canada in women’s curling at the Beijing Olympics
Late misses helped decide a crazy, entertaining and rather shocking women’s final at the Canadian Olympic Curling Trials on Sunday.
Jennifer Jones reversed a golden opportunity to win the game in the 10th end. The timing of Tracy Fleury’s mistake in the extra round proved even more costly.
When the dust settled, Jones escaped with a thrilling 6-5 victory to book his team’s ticket to the Beijing Games.
âWe’re here to meet up when you run out,â Jones said. “Not everyone can say that, and that’s a real strength of our team.”
There was a gasp at the SaskTel center in Saskatoon when Jones missed a takeout for the win – usually a slam dunk for the veteran captain – with his rock that rolled away to leave him just a simple equalizer.
Jones realized halfway through the leaf that the boulder was in trouble. She bellowed furiously at her teammates to try and hold him back, but he curled up a bit too much.
A stunned Fleury put her hand over her mouth in astonishment.
âWe thought we lost in the 10th, that’s for sure,â said Fleury. âI think Jen does that 99% of the time, that shot. So we felt lucky that we could go to an extra, and we really wanted to be successful there.
“But I didn’t do my last two hits.”
Jones refocused and put pressure to force Fleury to make a difficult final pitch. Jones pulled the side of the button behind a guard and Fleury missed a kickback attempt.
Jones called with a guard that Fleury rubbed on his final pitch to give up the deciding point on a steal.
âI felt close, but then it kind of took the loop,â Fleury said.
The men’s final between Brad Gushue and Brad Jacobs was scheduled for Sunday night.
Jones and his team of Kaitlyn Lawes, Jocelyn Peterman, Dawn McEwen and Lisa Weagle competed in the Manitoba Team Showdown with great experience.
Jones won Olympic gold at the Sochi Games in 2014 and won six women’s national titles. Fleury and her team of Selena Njegovan, Liz Fyfe and Kristin MacCuish, made their first appearance in a trials final.
Early nervousness seemed to be a factor.
Exits were common in the first end, and Jones put the pressure early to generate a quick fly. Jones buried a draw to force Fleury to tap, but she brushed her own stone and rolled.
Njegovan’s numbers were low at first. The vice-captain moved two of her own stones on a comeback attempt in the second end, but her team recovered for a single.
Jones also made a few mistakes, sending a draw through the rings in the third end, ultimately settling for a hit for two. Fleury responded with a pair of her own, and Lawes made it in the fifth end with a brilliant triple takedown that created a blank.
Fleury’s top-ranked team weren’t as dominant as they were for most of the round robin at the SaskTel Center.
His perfect 8-0 score gave him the first seed and a day off before the final. Jones was 5-3 in the round robin and defeated Krista McCarville in the semifinals on Saturday.
Jones allowed another run in the sixth end when his draw grazed the shooting stone and settled on the edge of the four-foot ring. One measure confirmed a single instead of a pair, giving him a 4-3 lead.
In the eighth end, Fleury looked to build up a force, but Jones landed a hit and rolled for cover to save White.
Njegovan stepped up his game in the second half. She made two excellent taps in a crowded room in the ninth end, and Fleury called with two good draws.
Jones decided to drop a single to keep the hammer for the 10th end.
Kevin Koe and Rachel Homan skipped Team Canada’s entries for the 2018 Winter Games, but both missed the podium.
Lawes and John Morris won the mixed doubles title in the discipline’s Olympic debut that year in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The Beijing Olympics are scheduled for February 4-20.
The Canadian mixed doubles trials are scheduled from December 28 to January 31. 2 in Portage la Prairie, Man.