SOCHI, Russia — Jennifer Jones is two wins away from an Olympic gold medal.
Jones has two remaining round robin games to go, but has already claimed a berth in the semifinals. A win in the semis and the Winnipeg native will play for gold.
Jones’s Team Canada includes Jill Officer and Kaitlyn Lawes, who were both born in Winnipeg, and Dawn McEwen who moved to the city to pursue her curling dreams.
The thought of going for gold wasn’t the least bit scary for Jones after running her record to 7-0 on Saturday with a win over Russia.
"Stop it. You’re giving me goosebumps," said Jones, when asked if the promise of now playing for the hugest of stakes was nerve-racking. "It’s not scary at all. It’s what we came here for. We’re having the greatest time of our lives. Look, we want to win. If we don’t it won’t be the end of the world. I’ll still have my family and Isabella (daughter). It’s sport, anything can happen, but we came here with a goal of getting to the semis and we’ve reached it. Now we know we’re almost on the podium."
Jones defeated Russia 5-3 on Saturday to run her record to a perfect 7-0 and claim top spot in the standings.
Jones will have top seed in the semifinals and play the fourth seed. A win in the semifinal would guarantee Jones a silver medal at worst. A loss and she would still have a chance to play for bronze.
Canada has two more round robin games to complete: they play the U.S. on Sunday and Korea on Monday.
The semifinals will be played Wednesday and the medal games on Thursday.
Officer has curled with Jones since they were teenagers. While Jones had a look of joy on her face, Officer and the rest of the team walked off the ice and through the mixed zone with determined stares. The party line might be that a medal of any colour will be satisfying, but the attitude projected on Saturday left the impression these girls came for gold and they know they’re close.
"We knew we had to get better and improve on the last few games. We were playing against the hometown team, so we had to be sharp and on it, and it went our way," said Officer after claiming a win in front of a raucous pro-Russia audience. "When we got the three in the third and then the two in the fifth, we were somewhat comfortable, but we knew we couldn’t take it for granted and we just had to stay sharp and throwing the stones good."
Officer said she and her teammates weren’t aware they’d qualified for the semis until they stepped off the ice.
"We are just trying to stay focused on our process and make sure we are throwing them good and the right weight. If we stay focused on that, then things will work out for us, and they have so far," she said. "We have pulled out some Ws. There have been a few games and times where we’ve had to persevere, fight through and be patient."
Jones started the week wearing eye-shadow that was gold in colour, but switched to a different shade on Saturday. She says she’s going back to the colour she’s chasing.
"I don’t know the name of it. You’re asking a girl who knows nothing about makeup, but it has a golden hue to it, and I’m going to wear it the rest of the way," she said.
She might even get to wear some golden jewelry. Olympic style.