Curler Jennifer Jones will represent Canada at Sochi Olympics
Earns 8-4 win over Sherry Middaugh at Roar of the Rings finals
Jennifer Jones zipped up her red jacket with the word Canada on the front of it and couldn't stop smiling.
The veteran Winnipeg skip finally earned the right to represent Canada at the Olympics in Sochi, Russia next year with an 8-4 victory over Sherry Middaugh in the Canadian Curling Trials final Saturday night.
"It's pretty cool," Jones said with a laugh when asked what it was like to wear the jacket.
"Love it. Yup, yup, can't wait for more."
The 39-year-old has curled for 28 years, winning four Canadian championships and gold at the 2008 worlds and bronze in 2010, but never came close to wearing the maple leaf at the biggest sporting event.
This was her third Trials event, and the first time she even made the playoffs.
"This is one of the best, if not the best, moments of our curling careers," Jones told the partisan crowd of 8,565 at MTS Centre during the medal presentation.
Jones is supported by third Kaitlyn Lawes, long-time second Jill Officer, Dawn McEwen and alternate Kirsten Wall.
Middaugh, 47, who curls out of Coldwater, Ont., hasn't finished higher than third at a Scotties Tournament of Hearts national championship, but did win one of five Canada Cup events.
Her rink includes third Jo-Ann Rizzo, second Lee Merklinger, lead Leigh Armstrong and alternate Lori Eddy.
Jones had defeated Middaugh 9-7 in this week's Roar of the Rings round-robin play.
While Jones ended the round robin 6-1 and earned a bye into the final, Middaugh opened 1-3 and then finished 4-3, beating Winnipeg's Chelsea Carey in a tie-breaker and then reigning Canadian champion Rachel Homan of Ottawa 10-4 in the semifinal.
"The final itself isn't a highlight, obviously, but the week itself was, considering that we weren't considered one of the favourites," Middaugh said.
In the final clash of veterans, Jones scored two three-enders.
For her first triple points, Jones capitalized on a Middaugh mistake in the second end.
Middaugh was heavy on a draw and went through the house. Jones then used her last rock to make a double takeout.
"We put it in a good spot and Jennifer's probably forced to take one and then it could be a totally different game," Middaugh said of the end.
Middaugh made a hit and roll for two in the sixth, needing a measurement for the second point to close the gap 4-3.
But in the seventh end, with Middaugh's last rock sitting on the button, Jones used the hammer for a hit for three to go up 7-4.
Jones curled 91 per cent, while Middaugh was 78 per cent.
Cheryl Bernard represented Canada at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, winning a silver after a loss to Sweden.
Morris, Jacobs to clash in men's final
On the men's side of the Trials, an Olympic dream moved a step closer to reality for John Morris, as he handed his former skip a ticket home. And Kevin Martin said he had no one to blame but himself.
Morris and Brad Jacobs will square off in the men's final Sunday.
"Either my first or second one in six, that was the game-breaker," said Martin. "We force them to one there, we've got all the momentum going into seven."
Instead, Martin lost 7-5, letting Morris score a deuce in six and another in eight, then losing the hammer in nine when he failed to blank on an open hit.
It was a sweet win for Morris, who took over as skip this year on Jim Cotter's B.C. rink with the Olympics in his sights. Cotter moved to third, although he still throws fourth rocks.
"It feels great, it's been a real grind of a year . . . We seem to be playing our best curling right now and I'm just real proud of the guys," he said.