Pulling rabbit from hat

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:05 AM ET

PAISLEY, Scotland -- The miracle girls came up with another one yesterday to earn a playoff berth at the world women's curling championship. Trailing by three in the last end of a crucial round-robin game against Norway, Canada's Jennifer Jones pulled out a stunning 11-10 victory to keep her dreams of a world title alive.

Jones scored three with the hammer in the 10th end, capitalizing on a bad miss by Norway skip Dordi Nordby and then stole the winning point in an extra end when Nordby flashed another takeout.

BEAUTIFUL MOMENT

"We're all about fighting," Canadian lead Cathy Gauthier said after her team finished the round robin in third place with an 8-3 record.

"This team has never given up. I love the fight of the team and that was a beautiful moment."

The victory was reminiscent of the team's spectacular finish at the Canadian women's championship last month in Newfoundland when Jones made an in-off to score four in the final end and snatch the title away from Ontario's Jenn Hanna.

This time the odds of victory seemed even longer after the Winnipeggers gave up a five-point end in the sixth and were on the verge of becoming only the third Canadian team in the history of the women's championship to miss the playoffs.

But they stuck it out and will now play in the Page system 3-vs-4 game against either Norway or Russia tomorrow. The winner advances to the semifinal, while the loser is eliminated.

Sweden (10-0) will face the United States (10-1) in the Page 1-vs-2 game, with the winner advancing directly to Sunday's final and the loser dropping to tomorrow's semifinal.

At times yesterday it looked like Canada was going to bow out quietly, especially after they gave up the five and another deuce in the ninth.

Not many teams win games when they are down three coming home, even if they have the hammer. But there is clearly something special about this group of Manitobans.

"This team always seems to have to be right on the wire before we get a punch in the head," said Gauthier, whose team also includes third Cathy Overton-Clapham and second Jill Officer. "That was our punch in the head. It was monstrous. Bigger than big."

As bleak as things looked for Canada, they didn't play all that badly.

"Actually we outplayed them that game, we just had one bad end," Jones said. "We made better shots and we deserved to win the game."

Canada scored three in the second and went up 5-3 in the fifth when Jones drew for two, but in the sixth everything fell apart. With Norwegian rocks piling up in the house, Jones called for Overton-Clapham to draw behind her own counter for second shot.

The rock overcurled and set up a relatively easy double for Norway third Linn Githmark, who made a beauty. That left Norway lying three and Jones wrecked on her first one and failed to freeze with her second, leaving Nordby an open hit for five.

But Nordby gave it back in the 10th and in the extra end, and that had the two-time world champion kicking herself after the game.

"It was very bad," said Nordby, who had to wait for the result of Russia's remaining game to see whether or not her team would make the playoffs or even a tie-breaker. "I don't understand why my last one didn't curl. I saw more than half of it. It was just a chip out. I feel very much like I gave it away, but good for Canada."

Russia (7-3) plays Scotland this morning and can clinch the fourth and final playoff berth with a victory. If they lose they'll play Norway in a tiebreaker later today.


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