It was the shot of the season.
An in-off to score four and beat Ottawa's Jen Hanna 8-4 on the last rock of the Scott Tournament of Hearts in February thrust Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg into curling's spotlight.
"Last year was just absolutely incredible," said Jones, minutes after opening the 28th annual Trail Appliances Autumn Gold Classic with a 6-3 victory over Calgary's June Campbell.
"We put the team together last year with the hope we would do good things and we did. I guess you never expect it to happen so fast but ... we clicked early and things went our way."
But hoping to start a run at this year's Olympic trials, Jones was forced to make a change. Cathy Gauthier left her position at lead shortly after the team returned from the world championship in Scotland. The single mother needed more time with her children and couldn't commit to the team's schedule for 2005-06.
Enter 2002 Olympic bronze medallist and two-time world champion Georgina Wheatcroft of Vancouver, formerly of the Kelley Law rink.
Wheatcroft is expected to bring her international experience and help at the trials, dubbed the Roaring of the Rings, Dec. 3-11 in Halifax.
And there's no better preparation for it than this weekend's Autumn Gold, with $56,000 up for grabs at the Calgary Curling Club. Eight of the 10 trials teams are shooting for Monday' 4 p.m. final.
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CHANGING PLACES: Winnipeg's Jennifer Jones isn't the only rink that went through off-season changes.
Cheryl Bernard has an all-new front end, bringing in Carolyn Darbyshire from the Renelle Bryden rink and Cori Bartel from Heather Rankin's foursome, replacing Jody McNabb and Karen Ruus, who retired from the sport.
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JONES IN SEMIS: Jennifer Jones found her way into the A semifinals at 9 a.m. today, facing Kyla MacLachlan of Calgary. Jones dumped Cassie Johnson of Minnesota 9-3, while MacLachlan beat Terry Loschuk of Calgary 8-6 ... In the other A1 semi, it's Jo-Ann Rizzo of Brantford, Ont., and Anne Merklinger of Ottawa. The A2 quarter-finals were not over at press time.
Calgary's John Morris is in this morning's A semifinal of the $60,000 West Coast Curling Classic in New Westminster, B.C. He knocked off Greg Monkman of the host club 10-2 (seven innings) and Team USA's Pete Fenson of Minnesota 8-3.