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Sharpshooting Manitobans poised to win curling gold

Jones gang, Fry rise to the occasion

Posted: 02/20/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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Canada's skip Jennifer Jones, wearing gold eye shadow, screams for her teammates to sweep harder during the women's curling semifinal game against Britain at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Sochi, Russia.

ROBERT F. BUKATY / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge Image

Canada's skip Jennifer Jones, wearing gold eye shadow, screams for her teammates to sweep harder during the women's curling semifinal game against Britain at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Sochi, Russia.

SOCHI, Russia -- It could be a golden couple of days for Manitoba curling beginning today.

The Jennifer Jones team from the St. Vital Curling Club will play Sweden's Margaretha Sigfridsson today in the women's curling final (7:30 a.m., CBC) at the Winter Olympics while the Brad Jacobs' Canadian team that includes Winnipeg's Ryan Fry will play for gold Friday (7:30 a.m., CBC) against Great Britain.

The Jacobs team from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., advanced to Friday's championship with a 10-6 win over China's Rui Liu in the semifinal.

Canada will play for a third straight gold medal in Olympic men's curling. Kevin Martin's Edmonton foursome won gold four years ago in Vancouver. Brad Gushue from St. John's, N.L., won Canada's first men's curling gold in 2006.

"I'm going to enjoy it probably until sometime Thursday night and then start refocusing," said Fry. "This is a great win for us and a great win for Canada especially with the start we had and under the pressure that comes with wearing the Maple Leaf. To have a silver medal now and have the opportunity to play for a gold medal is a phenomenal feeling and one that we're going to cherish through the night for sure."

Jones needed to draw her last rock to the four-foot for the 6-4 win over Great Britain and she delivered before she and the rest of her team jumped into the air to celebrate their accomplishment.

"We had to make a shot to win the game and the girls swept it perfectly. In the biggest moment under the most pressure we made a finesse shot to win the game. I'm proud of us," said Jones, who made the shot of the game with a long double in the eighth end, which forced Eve Muirhead to blank.

"We made a lot of big shots in the second half of the game, a lot of cross-house doubles, a lot of big shots when it looked like they might get a two. We just never let them get their deuce in the second half. We just maintained control."

Jones went 9-0 in round-robin play to become the first women's team to go through unbeaten. Martin went 9-0 in Vancouver and then went on to win gold to become the only unbeaten curler in Olympic history.

Jones' foursome is vying to become the first Canadian women's team to win gold since Sandra Schmirler won in 1998 at Nagano. Canada's Kelley Law earned a bronze in 2002, Shannon Kleibrink won bronze in 2006 and Cheryl Bernard captured silver in 2010.

Jones came upon some eye shadow prior to a press conference last week that just so happened to be gold in colour. She wore it again Wednesday and she will, too, today.

"The girls were all asleep and I didn't want to wake them so I kind of got dressed in the dark and grabbed that makeup by accident. This time it was on purpose," said Jones, smiling. "And I'm going to wear it (Thursday). Hopefully it works."

The entire team has Manitoba roots. Jones was born in Winnipeg as were second Jill Officer and third Kaitlyn Lawes. Lead Dawn McEwen moved to Winnipeg to join the team and has settled in the city with husband and World Curling Tour regular Mike McEwen.

"We don't know what colour we're getting but we're getting a medal," said McEwen. "It would be great to make it gold."

Jones scored two in the first end and then stole a single in the second to take control of the game. But Muirhead refused to go away and chipped away at the lead to trail 5-4 going home but Jones managed to wrestle away the hammer.

Part of Team Canada's routine this week has been to live in the moment and to soak up every possible experience. They've spend time with family, been up to the mountain for some of the skiing events, toured the park and, according to the team, had the time of their lives.

Sometimes athletes will revert to sports psychologist jargon to avoid describing the moment. Jones can play that card herself but she hasn't done it once at the Olympics and once again she opened up to share her true thoughts.

"It's crazy to think we're going to be on that podium. I'm not going to lie. It was an emotional win," said the owner of four Canadian titles and one world championship. "We've dreamed of this since we were little girls. To watch the Olympics in Vancouver and see all those athletes. We're that. We're going to be on that podium no matter what and nobody can ever take that away from us.

"It's so hard to get here out of Canada. There are so many great teams and it's a once in a lifetime opportunity."

What does gold makeup look like when it gets runny with tears? My guess is we'll find out today.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless*

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 20, 2014 D1

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