Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jones' win not pretty, but it counts

Beats P.E.I. on Day 1, faces tough B.C. test today

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KINGSTON, ONT. -- It wasn't exactly a fine piece of artwork.

But then it seldom needs to be when you're playing a team from Prince Edward Island at a national curling championship.

And so despite playing no more than six good ends in a 10-end game and falling behind 4-1 after just three, Manitoba's Jennifer Jones still escaped with an 8-6 victory over P.E.I.'s Suzanne Birt on the opening draw Saturday of the 2013 Canadian women's curling championship.

"We got fooled by the ice a little bit and we were just a little bit off," Jones said after the game. "But I thought we turned it up after the fifth end and played well."

A string of misses by Manitoba in the third end left Birt needing nothing more than a tapback for a three-ender and a 4-1 lead. Jones was then held to a single with the hammer after another poorly played end by Manitoba in the fourth.

But the game ultimately turned in the fifth, when Birt flashed a hit and gave Manitoba a game-tying steal of two. The Jones foursome never looked back, controlling the final five ends.

Jones said she liked the way her team responded against P.E.I. in the face of the early adversity.

"It's never a bad thing to have close games, absolutely -- and to have to make shots to win games. It's how you get on a roll. I wish we would have played better early, but I'll take it."

The Manitoba win came on a day when the favourites were winning across the board. Team Canada's Heather Nedohin, Ontario's Rachel Homan and B.C.'s Kelly Scott are, like Manitoba, 1-0 heading into this morning.

Jones returns to the ice for two games today, taking on B.C.'s Scott -- her longtime rival at this event -- on the morning draw (TSN, 8 a.m.) and then Newfoundland's Stacie Devereaux (0-2) in the afternoon.

Nedohin, meanwhile, got her title defence off to a lively start, needing her last rock in the 10th to finally dispatch a feisty Andrea Crawford (nee Kelly) foursome from New Brunswick.

It was a vintage performance from the always-emotional Nedohin, who already had a hoarse voice after the game from yelling so much and who contorted her body during line calls into more positions than a yogi master.

It begged the question afterward -- Shouldn't you be be saving some of that for the playoffs next weekend?

"It's who I am," laughed Nedohin. "If you went bowling with me, I will do the same thing at the bowling lanes... Come to the bowling lanes, try playing Wii games with me, it's just who I am."

TSN cameras grew to love the animated Nedohin during her title run last season and Nedohin was asked if any of it is a put-on for the cameras.

Nedohin laughed, saying she's not even aware of the contortions.

"I laugh at myself when we look at the highlight reels from the previous season. I don't know why I do what I do. It's just who I am."

Actually, Nedohin says there is a purpose behind all the yelling and contorting. "I'm trying to communicate to the rocks," she laughed, "but they don't listen sometimes."

LOOSEHAIRS -- The Canadian Curling Association is using a slightly modified draw schedule this week that eliminates the morning draw on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and extends the round-robin through Friday evening. A playoff round that used to be played over three days has now been compressed into just two, next Saturday and Sunday.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 17, 2013 B5

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