Jones puts Olympic trials disaster behind her

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:19 AM ET

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. -- The best find ways to bounce back from disasters and Team Canada's Jennifer Jones is no stranger to on-ice drama.

Jones executed an amazing in-off for the winning four to claim her first Canadian women's championship in 2005.

She made a perfect come-around draw to snatch a victory away from defeat when facing Alberta's Shannon Kleibrink in the 2008 Scotties Tournament of Hearts final. There was more drama last year.

But there were no dramatics in the 2009 Canadian Curling Trials as Jones lost early and often. She finished tied for second-last with a rather shocking 2-5 record.

Rebounded

Jones has since rebounded by winning a cashspiel in Bern, Switzerland that featured most of the teams heading to the Olympics, including Japan's Moe Meguro, who Jones beat in the final.

That proved the Manitobans' resilience yet again.

"That's not hard for us," Jones said on the eve of the first draws of this year's Hearts tournament at the Essar Centre Saturday.

"That's something that's never been a challenge for our team and it's because we really do love to play."

It was also good timing as Jones is seeking a rather rare 'three-peat' here this week.

"It was nice that we could come out and play well against some of the top teams and to come out with a win because that always gives you confidence going into a big event like the Scotties," said Canada second Jill Officer. "We're really fortunate we get to go back as Team Canada. We'll go out and do our best and try to play our best, and if we go on to win at the end of the week again, that would be spectacular."

While it is difficult to win even back-to-back titles, opportunity for a three-peat is knocking as this year's field will be missing the likes of Kleibrink, Saskatchewan's Stefanie Lawton and Quebec's Marie-France Larouche.

"But there's (B.C.'s) Kelly Scott and (Ontario's) Krista McCarville, who did very well at the trials and who has been at the Scotties a few times now, and (Saskatchewan's) Amber Holland, who has never been to the Scotties but is coming along," Officer said. "(Holland) did very well at the pre-trials and the Olympic trials. They've had a really good year, so there's no doubt that they'll be tough.

"Although there are some new names, there are names we've known from the Tour. There's obviously some rookies as well, so it will be interesting to see how they perform under the lights and stuff like that. I still think it's a pretty good field and it will be good to see how it falls into place."

Scott won two straight titles in 2006 and '07, but finished 1-6 and dead-last at the Olympic trials.

Holland and McCarville tied for third at the trials with 4-3 records.

"To win in Alberta, (Valerie) Sweeting would have had to play really well and they'll be pretty excited," Jones said. "Holland had a good Olympic trials. (Quebec's Eve) Belisle's tough. McCarville's back and so is Kelly Scott. All the teams will be tough, no matter who is there, so we'll have our work cut out for us."

New Brunswick's Andrea Kelly, who will likely surprise some teams, is back while P.E.I's Kathy O'Rourke and Nova Scotia's Nancy McConnery are returning veterans.

Manitoba's Jill Thurston competed at the 2006 Hearts as third for Janet Harvey while Newfoundland's Shelly Nichols has been to the Scotties with Heather Strong. Sharon Cormier was the surprise winner of the Yukon/NWT.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca

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AT A GLANCE

Bender's Picks

1. Jennifer Jones, Team Canada (3-1) ... flirting with history

2. Krista McCarville, Ontario (4-1) ... hometown fave on brink

3. Amber Holland, Saskatchewan (6-1) ... stay alert

4. Kelly Scott, B.C. (10-1) ... battling back

5. Eve Belisle, Quebec (15-1) ... dark horse

6. Andrea Kelly, N.B. (20-1) ... don't count out

7. Jill Thurston, Manitoba (25-1) ... playoff visions dancing in heads

8. Valerie Sweeting, Alberta (35-1) ... Wild Rose wonder

9. Shelley Nichols, Newfoundland (40-1) ... will screech to some surprises

10. Susan McConnery, Nova Scotia (50-1) ... Clippers could sail closer to top

11. Katherine O'Rourke, P.E.I. (60-1) ... Just can't see it

12. Sharon Cormier, Yukon/NWT (80-1) ... just happy to mush here

Saturday games

Draw 1

PEI vs. Saskatchewan, Yukon/NWT vs. Newfoundland, New Brunswick vs. Ontario, Quebec vs. Nova Scotia

Draw 2

Nova Scotia vs. Yukon/NWT, Manitoba vs. Canada, B.C. vs. Alberta, New Brunswick vs. P.E.I.

Sunday games

Draw 3

Canada vs. New Brunswick, P.E.I. vs. Alberta, Nova Scotia vs. Manitoba, Yukon/NWT vs. B.C.

Draw 4

Manitoba vs. Newfoundland, Quebec vs. B.C., Canada vs. Saskatchewan, Ontario vs. Alberta

Draw 5

Ontario vs. Quebec, New Brunswick vs. Nova Scotia, P.E.I. vs. Yukon/NWT, Newfoundland vs. Saskatchewan


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