Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

TEAM JONES

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It is a quirk of Jennifer Jones's long curling career that while she has been a fixture on the Manitoba sports scene for the better part of two decades, most Winnipeggers have still never actually seen her play live.

With the exception of an annual local bonspiel she plays in at the Fort Rouge Curling Club, the overwhelming majority of Jones's most memorable curling exploits have taken place at either provincial events in small arenas throughout rural Manitoba or at national and international events in larger arenas scattered across Canada, from Vernon to Charlottetown.

And so it is perhaps fitting she will finally get the advantage of home ice in her hometown next month as she pursues -- possibly for the final time -- the last thing she has not yet won in curling -- the right to represent Canada at the Winter Olympics.

"We've never played in a big arena in Winnipeg and I can't tell you how much we're looking forward to finally doing it," Jones said this week.

"We've played in so many (national) Scotties where we've had to play the hometown team in the final and the whole crowd has been for them. And you know what? That's hard to do. It's a big advantage, I think, to have the crowd on your side.

"And we're so excited."

While she is universally acknowledged as the best shooter in high pressure situations in the entire women's game, Jones has struggled at previous Trials events. A sudden bout of kidney stones derailed her bid at the 2005 Trials, while a poor start put the kibosh on her 2009 Trials event.

So she speaks from experience when she lays out the recipe she thinks it's going to take to win the Trials this time.

"It's a cliche but I really think you're going to need some Lady Luck on your side," she says. "It's a long week, the teams are great and you're going to need the rolls to go your way.

"But it's also going to come down to who can perform best in the pressure situations and which team bests handle the adversity. And that's an area I think our team really excels at -- I love our team dynamic."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 23, 2013 C8

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