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Jones's Houdini act finally runs its course at Scotties

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KINGSTON, ONT. -- This time, there would be no escape act.

This time, the hole Jennifer Jones dug herself was so deep and her opponent so formidable that not even a woman who has made a 10-year career of finding a way to fight her way out of the impossible could find a way out of this one.

Jones, a four-time champion, played badly in the first end of Sunday night's 2013 Scotties Tournament of Hearts final and she wore the three-ender Ontario's Rachel Homan put up on the board. But Jones was able to battle back from that mistake, even tied the game up 4-4 after the sixth end.

But just when it seemed like Jones might snatch victory from another looming defeat -- just as she'd done in the semifinal earlier Sunday when she overcame a 4-2 deficit to beat Team Canada's Heather Nedohin 6-5 -- Homan punched her in the face all over again with another three-ender in the seventh end.

A steal of two more an end later made it 9-4 and at that point, it had all become clear -- a team that had made history in winning 11 straight games in the round-robin last week was about to lose its second playoff game in 24 hours and watch as a much younger team hoisted their first Canadian women's curling championship trophy on the strength of a 9-6 final score.

It's the third year in a row Jones had seen this movie, having lost the semifinal last year and another final in 2011. And yes, Jones said afterward, it's getting a little old.

"I just missed a couple of shots. That first end, we gave up that three, but then we fought back and then I missed that double in seven," said Jones. "I'm pretty disappointed -- I would have liked to have made a few more shots and see what happens, but it just wasn't meant to be.

"It's a team game, but I feel like if I'd made a couple more shots, you never know what could have happened."

We know what did happen, however -- a team with a 23-year-old skip and an average age of 24.5 -- won the right to represent Canada at the 2013 world women's curling championship in Riga, Latvia next month.

And they couldn't be happier about it. "I can't even comprehend what just happened right now," said Homan. "It's unbelievable. I need to take a second to soak it all in. I can't believe we're going to worlds right now. I'm so honoured to represent Canada, it's unbelievable."

Homan, who is so unemotional during games that she's gotten a rap on the Internet for being too robotic, showed her soft side in celebration, breaking down moments after lamenting to reporters how much she wished her late grandfather had lived to see the day.

The loss ended a remarkable run for the Jones squad, which saw them go 8-1 through the provincials in Stonewall last month to win the Manitoba title and then go undefeated through the round-robin here. But while Manitoba handed Homan her only loss this entire event during the round-robin on Thursday, it was Homan who was clearly the better team in beating Manitoba first on Saturday night in the 1 vs. 2 game and then again Sunday night.

Jones had nothing but praise for the team that had defeated her own. "They played great -- they played lights out and they deserved to win today," said Jones. "I'm very, very happy for them. They work hard at the game and they're going to be great representatives for Canada."

LOOSEHAIRS -- Ontario lead Lisa Weagle was named the game's MVP, but she'll be best remembered for getting her broom jammed between two rocks just as they collided in the fifth end, sending the rocks wobbling and causing a lengthy delay while the two teams put the house back together...B.C.'s Kelly Scott won the bronze medal with a 10-8 win over Team Canada's Heather Nedohin.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 25, 2013 C3

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