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Roar of the Rings

Final analysis

Viewer's guide to women's Roar of the Rings final

 

John Woods / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Sherry Middaugh in action Friday night.

CP

John Woods / THE CANADIAN PRESS Sherry Middaugh in action Friday night.

Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press
Jennifer Jones celebrates her team�s win Thursday night in round-robin play. Tonight, she curls for the ultimate � a berth in the Winter Olympics.

Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press Jennifer Jones celebrates her team�s win Thursday night in round-robin play. Tonight, she curls for the ultimate � a berth in the Winter Olympics.

The skips: Jennifer Jones vs. Sherry Middaugh

The time: 6:30 p.m., MTS Centre, TSN

The stakes: Whoever wins this one will curl for Canada at the Sochi Olympics

How they got here: Winnipeg's Jones, 39, clinched first place Wednesday with a superb round robin, rolling 6-1 through the field and putting up some flashy scores. But Middaugh, 47, has been the bigger surprise. She looked like a non-factor in the tournament after a 1-3 start but then won out to earn a Friday afternoon tiebreaker against Winnipeg's Chelsea Carey. Middaugh eked out a win in that one, then staged a stunning semifinal upset to punch her ticket to the final.

How they stack up: Anything could happen, of course, but all the tea leaves seem to read that this is Jones' moment. She's coming in with plenty of momentum: her foursome was dominant in the round robin and at 86 per cent had the highest team shooting percentage. Lead Dawn McEwen and third Kaitlyn Lawes posted the best numbers at their positions -- though notably, Jones was tied for first with Middaugh at 84 per cent across seven games.

Besides, an Olympic medal is the last real prize left for Jones, a four-time national champion and 2008 world champion who has won more Grand Slams than any other woman skip. With her rink on a roll, a day of rest and a hometown crowd ready to cheer her on at the MTS Centre, there will never be a better chance for one of the game's best to make an Olympic run.

That said, the second half of the Roar should warn it would be a mistake to count Middaugh out. Though she doesn't have Jones' laurels, she is a veteran who held her team steady through the early disappointments, and her foursome's combined 84 per cent shooting percentage was third-best in the field, just a hair under Jones and Homan.

-- Melissa Martin

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 7, 2013 0

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