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Big names will be front and centre at Roar of the Rings

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MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The tournament banner is raised during the opening ceremony.

Manitoba curling fans won’t have to wait long to see one of the most anticipated curling games -- or one of the most anticipated curling debuts -- of the year.

An all-Winnipeg matchup between Jennifer Jones and Chelsea Carey will be front and centre on the opening draw of the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings at MTS Centre Sunday afternoon -- and will also be the nationally televised feature game that TSN has chosen for actor Will Ferrell to make his debut as a curling commentator.

Ferrell, who is scheduled to arrive in Winnipeg Saturday night, will be appearing at MTS Centre and on TSN Sunday afternoon in character as Ron Burgundy, the lead character in the ‘Anchorman’ movies.

While Ferrell’s exact role on Sunday was still being determined Saturday afternoon, what is now clear is that the Jones-Carey game will be the tableau upon which it will play out.

Cool, says Jones. "We’re excited. It’s pretty cool. And I hope we get an opportunity to meet him. We’re all really big ‘Anchorman’ fans and Will Ferrell fans. So to say he’s commentated a couple ends of one of our games is pretty unbelievable," Jones said Saturday afternoon after getting in one final practice session at MTS Centre.

"We’ll add it to our treasure chest of amazing experiences over the years."

While the Jones-Carey matchup has been highly anticipated because of its all-Winnipeg connections, it’s Jones’s matchup with reigning Canadian women’s champion Rachel Homan on Wednesday evening that many think could be a preview of the women’s final of this Olympic-qualifying event.

Those two teams met in the national Scotties final in Kingston last February and Homan -- who curls just a couple hours away in Ottawa -- rode a huge wave of local support at that event all the way to the biggest win of her young team’s career.

The tables are turned this week, however, and Homan knows it. "We’re up for it -- we’re up for any challenge," said Homan, 24. "We’re up for any adversity and we’re going to rise up to that. I have every belief in my team that we’re going to play 100 percent out here.

"Whatever the crowd gives us, that’s fine. They’ll make it exciting."

Jones and Homan have been annointed by oddsmakers as the clear co-favourites to win this event and there is a budding rivalry between the two teams that began last year in Kingston, where the two teams played 3 times, with Jones winning in the round-robin while Homan won the 1 vs 2 page playoff game and the final.

Jones was clipped when asked to assess her young rivals. "They’re a great team," was the sum total of her reply.

But Jones was much more expansive in her answer when she was asked about what it will be like for the next week to finally have a huge Winnipeg crowd behind her team for the first time in her long curling career.

"We’re pretty excited," said Jones. "We’ve always wanted to experience that. So to have that actually come true in one of the biggest events we’re going to play in, it’s pretty cool."

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Saturday, November 30, 2013 at 2:20 PM CST: added photo

2:22 PM: minor edit to cutline

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