Olympics has eluded Jones

CON GRIWKOWSKY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:49 AM ET

Jennifer Jones has been to plenty of places.

That comes with the territory when you're reaching for new territory.

A couple of weeks ago, at the volunteer reception night for the Roar of the Rings, Jones was asked to speak to the people who are going to make the show happen.

Among the recollections of winning the Scotties three times in the past five years and bringing home the gold at the 2008 world championship, she gave a glimpse into her preparation routine.

When Jones and her team of third Cathy Overton-Clapham, second Jill Officer and lead Dawn Askin touch down in Edmonton today, one of the first things they'll do is head over to Rexall Place.

Calming the nerves by taking in the venue is just part of the routine.

Jones has been to many curling rinks and arenas around the world in becoming Canada's most dominant women's team in the post Colleen Jones era. And walking into Rexall Place could be the start of another special week for the Winnipeg foursome.

"There's nothing like playing in front of a big crowd, and, obviously this will be the biggest venue women's curling has ever been in," said Jones. "We're excited for that. We're excited to be in front of a bunch of fans and I'm sure it will be exhilarating, really."

As dominant as her team has been, as much of a rising star after winning her first Scotties title in 2005 and her dominant performances on the Tour, Jones was unable to parlay her sizzle into the 2005 trials, where the team finished one game out of a playoff spot.

"It wasn't our best week. Things just didn't quite go our way," said Jones. "We had illnesses and other ... things just weren't meant to be, so hopefully, we'll be better."

The trials are a funny thing. Unlike Christmas, they only come once every four years.

"You always want another chance and the trials are huge," said Jones. "But we've played in a bunch of huge events ... the Scotties have been huge, the worlds have been huge, the Players Championship has been huge. To me, you can't put everythimg on one event. Obviously, you want to go to the Olympics, but there's so many other things to play for, as well, that are a ton of fun."

Jones was first in for a bye to Edmonton and the only women's team to do so by winning three majors, which included winning the Players Championship title earlier this year in Grande Prairie.

Jones has had her tough outings, including last year's Continental Cup in Camrose. Don't dare mention the struggles, though. Otherwise, you get the Jones stare. She has that ability to put those moments behind her quickly.

"We've had a great couple of years and had success," said Jones. "This team just loves to curl. We love to curl. We love to be on the ice and we have so much fun together on and off the ice. There really was no motivation required to keep going (after clinching)."

The team won the season-opening Grand Slam in Calgary, won in Oslo, lost a Grand Slam final in Winnipeg, then won in Red Deer.

"You can come at it from different ways," said Jones. "We're happy with the way we started our year but we still have to play better and we're going to be playing on arena ice, which is completely different."

On paper, Jones is coming into this event as an early favourite. Her reputation for finding a way to win has been well-earned, but Jones does not see her team as a dominant force in the same way the late Sandra Schmirler dominated curling a decade ago.

"It's definitely anybody's game," said Jones. "I don't think there's any favourites. We face each of these teams all year on the cashspiel circuit. They're tough. They've all won and we've all beaten each other. Really, I think it's whoever's hot, who can get on a roll and who has luck on their side."

CON.GRIWKOWSKY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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