SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. -- Jennifer Jones has never won this thing the easy way.
And she keeps finding new ways to dig a hole for herself.
Back in 2005, she needed to execute an in-off for four to win her first Canadian crown.
Fast forward to 2008 and the obituaries were being typed when Jones suddenly sprang from the grave, rattling off eight straight wins -- including one in a tie-breaker -- to win her second Scotties Tournament of Hearts championship.
Jones, however, emerged victorious over Ontario's Krista McCarville at the Essar Centre Thursday night to finish second -- finally avoiding those sudden-death tie-breakers -- and advances to tonight's Page playoff one-two game versus P.E.I.'s Kathy O'Rourke.
McCarville dropped into a tie-breaker against Manitoba's Jill Thurston, to be played Friday at 2 p.m. The winner will face B.C.'s Kelly Scott in Saturday's three-four playoff.
Thurston beat Quebec's Eve Belisle 10-4 to advance to the tie-breaker.
Last year, Jones sat on the precipice of elimination before winning another tie-breaker, then advanced to the final, which she won her second consecutive title in somewhat less dramatic fashion.
Jones already knows how tough it is to defend a title -- she lost the 2006 final to Scott and she has been a marked woman here.
"Yeah, teams seem to be playing a lot better against us," said Canada third Cathy Overton-Clapham.
"This year, it seems that teams get up a little more against us. But we're not out there thinking we're trying to go for three titles. We're just playing because we love playing and we want to win. But I would say that teams are playing a lot better against us."
"We're not used to being in the one-two game," said Jones, who nipped Ontario 6-5. "We haven't been there since 2005 ... We're pretty happy we're in the one-two game and we hope to come out and play well (today).
"We've done it before in the worlds and the provincials. It's just that the last couple of years at the Scotties, we like to curl more apparently. We're pretty happy we won the game and it was a big day for us. We wanted to come out and play well, and we did."
They have also won this thing before, which may play havoc with P.E.I.'s youngsters.
"They played great, obviously, in the round-robin and they beat us there and they're just playing with no fear," said Jones, who lost 9-5 to P.E.I. "But I'm sure we'll go out and play tough. We've been there before and I think experience always helps."
B.C.'s Scott defeated Newfoundland's Shelley Nichols 8-2 to finish third.
"We have to play an extra game, it doesn't really matter who it's against," said Thurston, who had been fuming after losing to New Brunswick's Andrea Kelly 9-6 in the afternoon.
"I was not happy this afternoon. I was not happy at all but we had a good talk after the game and we said, 'We're still in it, we can still make a tie-breaker so let's just go out and try hard.'
"Our goal was to make the playoffs. Whether it's a tie-breaker or not, it's still the playoffs. Now, it's a whole new bonspiel and we have to go out and play well."
But the Buffalo gals played their best with their backs against the wall.
"That's how we went through our provincials and that's kind of how we were here," Thurston said.
"Once we had three losses, we knew we couldn't lose any more. This morning (versus Kelly) was a little unfortunate but we knew we had to win this game to keep on playing.
"We know we have to play well regardless of who we end up playing (in the tie-breaker) so we're going to come out firing and try to play our best game."