Close to Jones' heart

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

This may surprise some but Jennifer Jones is one loyal woman when it comes to her curling roots.

For proof, the local lawyer passed on an invitation to the prestigious inaugural Three Nations Cup in Mississauga, Ont., so her Olympic trials-bound team could compete at what is considered the best women's Grand Slam on the tour at the Fort Rouge Curling Club this weekend.

"It's not just because it's in Winnipeg but it's our favourite spiel to play in," said the reigning Canadian champ.

"It's too bad that they conflicted but this has usually been a good spiel for us. Besides, we will get to play more games here than we would at the Three Nations Cup, and we love to play."

And win. Jones has already won two cashspiels so, is her foursome peaking too soon?

"I don't know about that, we had to qualify through C in Calgary," she countered. "We're happy but definitely feel we can improve."

Supported by third Cathy Overton-Clapham, second Jill Officer and Dawn Askin, Jones is determined not to get a tight collar as the Canadian Curling Trials in Edmonton draw nearer.

"You don't want to put too much pressure on yourself," Jones said. "You just want to have fun and enjoy it ... And if it's not meant to be, it's not meant to be."

The local Slam will also feature Alberta's trials-bound Cheryl Bernard and nine of the 12 teams that will compete at the trials qualifier in Prince George, B.C. next month. The winner will pocket $15,000 with the runner-up earning $10,000.

Alberta's Shannon Kleibrink, who won the bronze medal at the last Olympics, and Saskatchewan's Stephanie Lawton will play against China's reigning world champion Bingyu Wang and Scotland's Eve Muirhead at the Three Nations Cup.

PORTAGE SPIEL: Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton will be one of six men's teams heading for the pre-trials event that will be on the ice for the $58,000 World/Manitoba Curling Tour cashspiel in Portage la Prairie this weekend. Those six include Manitoba's Kerry Burtnyk and Mike McEwen and Ontario's Wayne Middaugh.

That winner will get $18,000 with the runner-up, $10,000.

NO EXEMPTION: Contrary to speculation, McEwen will not get the CTRS exemption into this year's men's provincials because Stoughton actually earned more points on the season, Curl Manitoba executive director Shane Ray advised us. It was incorrectly assumed McEwen would get it because Stoughton already had the exemption as the returning champ.

"Our rules don't allow for the second guy (on the CTRS list) getting it at this point in time," Ray said.

That berth will be added to the MCA's annual men's bonspiel, and it will remain the MCA bonspiel despite the MCA changing its name to Curl Manitoba.

"We're not going to mess with 121 years of tradition," Ray said.

Stoughton, by the way, has until Oct. 31 to declare whether or not he will take that provincial exemption. However, he does not have to declare his actual personnel until a few weeks before the provincials. Curl Manitoba has introduced stricter residency eligibility rules this year and Kevin Park, who parachuted in from Alberta last year, remains his third. Stoughton must declare his personnel before anyone can challenge any of his players' eligibility.

WORLD CUP: Four of the Olympic trials-bound teams and Newfoundland's Brad Gushue, who won gold at the last Olympics, will be competing in the World Cup of Curling, also being held in Mississauga this weekend. CBC will broadcast some of the playoff games on digital TV and on its web site.

HOUSECLEANING: Hamiota's Terry McNamee beat Brandon's Brendan Taylor 7-4 in the men's final of an MCT spiel in Carberry to win $2,500 last weekend. On the women's side, Winkler's Kaileigh Strath sank Brandon's Lisa Blixhavn 5-3 to earn $1,200. Blixhavn settled for $800 ... In Beausejour, Ste. Anne's Alyssa Vandepoele nipped West St. Paul's Kelsey Boettcher 3-2 to pocket $2,000. Boettcher got $1,000.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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