Meltdown in Camrose

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:11 AM ET

CAMROSE -- After surveying the carnage after Jennifer Jones left the ice here yesterday, captain Russ Howard had the line of the final day of Continental Cup history.

"We're going to have to pull the goalie right from the opening faceoff," said Howard.

Kevin Martin of Edmonton may be the Brier champion, world champion and the acknowledged greatest skins game player in the history of curling.

But what he was asked to do here yesterday afternoon, in the final game of almost certainly the final Continental Cup ever played, was ridiculous.

Jones so soiled the sheets here this year, especially in the women's skins final yesterday morning, that Martin would have had to win 49 out of the 55 points available in his final game against Thomas Ulsrud of Norway.

It had people remembering back to a similar situation in 2003 when Edmonton's Randy Ferbey headed into the men's skins final of the event with Peja Lindholm of Sweden, the Team World captain here, needing only one skin to put it away.

Ferbey kept his team in it until the seventh end of the eight end game until one finally got away. Earlier the same day, Anette Norberg of Sweden had shut out Canada's Sherry Middaugh 60-0.

DEFENDING CHAMP

This time it was Norberg, the defending Olympic champion, running up the score again over Canada's Jones -- 41-14, to leave the overall score at 193-152 in the race to 201 going into the Martin-Ulsrud game.

On the fourth end, Ulsrud made a double raise takeout to win it for the World, his teammates jumping into each other's arms and rushing tot hrow themselves in the arms of the other members of Team World on the bench.

"We couldn't play our normal skins game," said Martin of having so little wiggle room.

"We were up against the fence and they were throwing darts -- and made one of them. At least Thomas had to make a good shot for the one to win it. It was not a free draw."

While there's every chance this will go down as the last day in Continental Cup history, Jones and the members of her Winnipeg rink will go down in history as the goats of it all if you don't first pin the tail on the donkeys: the coaches, captains and officials who botched the Team North America lineups in the mixed skins games, resulting in two games being declared draws and points being taken away.

In the end, after Martin won the final four ends, the final score was World 208 North America 192.

In four games involving Jones and her entire team and three others involving at least one member of her team, the defending world women's champion didn't manage to win one of them.

And losing the final day skins game 41-14 is going to have a lot of people second- guessing the idea of having her involved in the $100,000 Jan. 10-11 TSN Skins Game, opening against Glenn Howard while Martin meets Ferbey in the other..

"It's great to get the experience," said Jones.

LAST RITES

With last rites essentially conducted on this event, what happened is hardly going to leave much of a scar on her career. But there has to be growing concern as the Olympic countdown continues.

Jones, the defending world champion, is in sixth place in the points standings this year, having strung together three fifth-place finishes and one ninth-place result in her four major point events.

She has the only women's team qualified directly through to the Roar of the Rings in Edmonton next December and is the poster girl for the event.

"Obviously, we don't have as much to play for this year. Obviously, we're a bit disappointed by what happened here. But for the most part we'd been pleased with the way we'd been curling. We've been great through 'A' event and then not played well in the playoffs," she said of this season's run of events.

Compared to Ferbey, who hasn't won an event in two years, Jones struggling for two months doesn't compute.

But there's so much depth with the Canadian men that any of the eight teams which end up in the Roar of the Rings Olympic Trials next December in Edmonton could win gold at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

The same is not true with the women.


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