SASKATOON — Add an alert to your phone calendar for Feb. 9 at 7 p.m., curling fans, because either Tracy Fleury or Jennifer Jones will don their finest Team Canada duds in the opener at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Manitoba will be representing in China.
Fleury's crew from East St. Paul and the Jones squad from St. Vital go head-to-head in the Canadian Olympic Trials women's final Sunday at 11 a.m. (TSN) at SaskTel Centre.
One goes to the Games in February. The other goes home lamenting what might have been.
"Oh, I just thought of that. Yeah, Manitoba," Jones quipped, when reminded the buffalo is Beijing bound.
The former Winnipegger, 46, who captured a gold medal at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia skipped her St. Vital squad with third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jocelyn Peterman and lead Dawn McEwen to an 8-3 victory over Krista McCarville of Thunder Bay in a Saturday night semifinal.
Fleury finished the Trials round-robin 8-0 to get a pass to the final.
Jones, Lawes and McEwen climbed the podium with now-retired Jill Officer in four-player curling, and then Lawes captured a second gold medal in mixed doubles in 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The six-time Scotties national champion, who now lives near Barrie, Ont., with her husband, curler Brent Laing, and their two daughters, was beaming after the win.
"Four years ago, if you said you could be in the Olympic Trials curling in the final, you'd sign up in a heartbeat," she said. "It's so hard to get here in Canada and we were lucky enough to have the opportunity once and to do it again would incredible."
In men's action, Brad Jacobs of Sault St. Marie, Ont., faces Brad Gushue of St. John's, N.L., in Sunday's 7 p.m. final — a battle of former Olympic champions.
Jacobs registered a pair of four-enders and cruised to an 8-3 semifinal victory in just six ends over Calgary's Kevin Koe.
Gushue won a gold medal at the 2006 games in Turin, Italy, while Jacobs stood atop the podium in Sochi.
"It's going to come down to who takes advantage of their opportunities the most, who's able to put some pressure early on and really just stick with it throughout the game, and control the emotions," said Jacobs. "It should be a heck of a game, really looking forward to it. This is a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity and now we've gotten to do it more than once, so it's pretty cool."
Jones team second Jocelyn Peterman would make her first Olympic appearance, while alternate Lisa Weagle played on Rachel Homan's Ottawa team that finish a disheartening sixth in 2018.
"It's exciting. We're right where we want to be," said Peterman. "(Teammates) obviously had very positive experiences at the Olympics, and they're all about enjoying the moment and playing up for the big games. So, it's definitely a positive influence on me."
Fleury, third Selena Njegovan, second Liz Fyfe and lead Kristin MacCuish — the No.1 ranked squad in the world — are Trials rookies.
But they showed neither uneasiness nor impatience while constructing an 8-0 round-robin record, from their first official assignment last Saturday, a 7-4 win over Gimli's Kerri Einarson, to a 7-6 squeaker over Jones on Friday.
"We feel comfortable. We feel we'll be well-rested, which is an advantage," Fleury said Saturday. "It was nice to get on the ice and throw some practice rocks, so we're feeling good."
Fleury went undefeated in the nine-team round-robin and was rewarded with an off-day, and will drive from the hack with last-rock advantage in the opening end Sunday.
"It's been a good day, had breakfast with some family and then our team did an Escape Room, which was a good distraction. We used a few hints but we did get out," said the resident of Sudbury, Ont., with a laugh. "We also got in some practise, so the day went by pretty fast. We wanted to make sure we stayed busy, and I think we did a good job of that.
"We feel comfortable. We feel we'll be well-rested, which is an advantage," Fleury added. "It was nice to get on the ice and throw some practice rocks, so we're feeling good."
McCarville's light delivery in the fifth end handed Jones a steal of two and a 4-1 lead in the semifinal, and the team from northern Ontario was in chase mode the rest of the way.
McCarville survived the pre-Trials last month to earn a spot in the Trials field, made an afternoon tie-breaker and then knocked off Einarson 4-3 in an extra end to set up the showdown with Jones.
Einarson had a golden opportunity to score a game-winning deuce with the hammer in the 10th end but failed to take advantage, throwing her draw heavy.
"I thought I was very close when I let go of it, and the way it was curling I thought it was good. But it wasn't," she said.
McCarville had gifted her the chance, wrecking on a guard with her last rock.
In the 11th, Einarson played a delicate hit to lie shot stone at the top of the button and had another rock positioned in the back four-foot. But the 38-year-old northern Ontario skip sent both stones flying to seal the win.
Earlier in the day, Einarson defeated Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta., 8-6 in the first tie-breaker.
Assistant sports editor
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).