Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Zero-100 in record time

Toba's Jones joins N.S. Jones at century mark in victories

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KINGSTON, ONT. -- And with that, the measure of Jennifer Jones's success at the Canadian women's curling championship is now tabulated in triple digits.

With her 100th career victory at a Canadian women's curling championship Friday, Jones officially joined a club that until Friday had just one other member -- Nova Scotia's Colleen Jones.

 

But while Canadian curling's two Joneses now share membership in an exclusive club, it is the Manitoba version that truly stands alone.

Jones reached the century club in an astonishingly short period of time. Playing in her 10th national women's championship -- and with lots of curling still to go this weekend -- Jones recorded her 100th victory, a rate of 10 wins an appearance at an event where teams only play 11 round-robin games.

To put that number in context, consider that her Nova Scotia namesake has 131 wins in 19 appearances, a rate of under seven wins an appearance.

The differences in their win-loss records is equally stark -- 101-32 for Manitoba's Jones, 131-87 for Nova Scotia's Jones.

But really the best measure -- and the one that puts Manitoba's Jones in a league entirely of her own -- is her playoff appearance rate on the national stage: 100 per cent. As in 10 times Jennifer Jones has played in the national women's championship and 10 times Jones has qualified for the playoffs.

Or then there's this statistic: In nine previous appearances at the Scotties, Jones has played in the final six times, a rate of two out of three. And with a win today over Ontario's Rachel Homan in the Page playoff 1 vs. 2 game -- or, failing that, in Sunday's semifinal -- Jones will have appeared in the final seven out of 10 times.

Indeed, Jones is so money at this event that her worst performance is still her first performance, when she lost the 3 vs. 4 game back in 2002 in Brandon. Which also just happens to be the only time Jones has had home-ice advantage at a national women's championship, making what she's accomplished even more remarkable.

Since that first outing, Jones has lost two semifinals and two finals, while winning four Canadian championships. At an event with 12 teams. Crazy.

Put it together and it makes one wonder: why? Why has Jennifer Jones enjoyed a consistency and success at this event unlike any other curler before her?

Jones isn't sure herself, but she's got some ideas. "I feel pretty lucky," Jones said Friday. "I mean, I work hard -- I practise a lot and I work hard. And I always say that I will retire when I feel like I can't get any better. And I still feel like I'm getting better."

She feels that way because she is getting better. Jones has shot 86 per cent this week, a full four percentage points better than her best previous performance on the national stage -- which just happened to be last year when she shot 82 per cent.

But if it's just about working hard, then everyone would be successful, because at this point all the elite curling teams are working like dogs in pursuit of the Olympic dream.

So again -- what sets you so clearly apart, Jennifer Jones?

"I love to play. I love everything about it," she said. "And losing's OK too -- we're able to go out and leave it all out there and not have any regrets. And to this day we've done that...

"What I do think is that we've had really good perspective on curling, always... We've had success, yes, but it's not always been about winning for us. It's been about enjoying the experience and enjoying the moment. And when you do that, usually good things happened for us. And hopefully that will happen again."

No one has had a more privileged seat -- or been a bigger part -- for Jones's success over the years than her longtime second and confidante, Jill Officer.

The two have curled together since juniors (they won 1993 and 1994 Manitoba junior championships) and with the exception of the 2002 Scotties in Brandon -- when Officer was Jones's alternate -- the pair have curled together at every national championship.

So what has been the magic ingredient? "Hard work and determination, I think," insists Officer. "I don't know -- I don't necessarily have any other reason to give you other than we just keep working hard at it. We're determined and we never give up. That's all it is."

And it's been working now for a full 100 wins -- and counting.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 23, 2013 C4

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