Roar claims another victim

TERRY JONES, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:39 PM ET

Jennifer Jones has as famous a face as any curler in the world.

The photogenic blonde world champion from Winnipeg has had more commercials running on television these last four years than all the men combined.

She's a more recognizable Canadian athlete than many of those who will win medals at the Vancouver Olympics.

But she won't be there to share with them.

Which is to say it's happened again.

The curse of the Roar of the Rings continues.

The Olympic curling trials event has claimed another high profile person, devoured another overwhelming favorite and set up the possibility of a female Mark Gushue to represent Canada at the Vancouver Olympics. Or a female Mike Harris.

Jennifer Jones turned into Colleen Jones in Edmonton this week. If it could happen to the legend who ranks as Canada's most successful female curler of all time, why not the 2008 world champion and her team-mates Cathy Overton-Chapham, Jill Officer and Dawn Askin?

Jennifer Jones has been the best Canada has had – and was considered the best bet to bring back a medal of any color in an Olympic women's event where Canada hasn't won gold since Sandra Schmirler in Nagano 1998 and many believe will be fortunate to duplicate the bronze medals of the last two Olympics.

Losing their first two games to open the tournament and then her last three, the winners of the last two Scotties championships, ended up at 2-5 for the tournament.

Two and five!

There are still five teams left alive in the women's event playing two sets of tie breakers at 8:30 a.m., 1 p.m. with Kristie McCarville vs Stefanie Lawton up first, the winner advancing against Amber Holland and the winner against Shannon Kleibrink in the 6 p.m. semi-final to earn the right to play in Saturday's final against Cheryl Bernard.

It's the old Pro Bowling Tour format.

Five out of eight teams survive the round robin and Jennifer Jones and the best team Canada has had during this Olympic quadrennial is history?

It's like eight years ago when Wayne Middaugh had qualified for this event over and over and over again and went 2- 7. Or when Randy Ferbey had done the same four years ago and went 4-5. Or Colleen Jones ending her career after a 3-6 trials in hometown Halifax in the same event.

“It's crazy to think about,” said Thunder Bay's McCarville, the 27 year old who has no international experience but is still in while Jones is out.

“It's shocking!

“Obviously she came here as the No. 1 seed and was predicted by just about everybody to win.”

The Jones team knew their fate long before they left the ice, losers in extra ends in their last game.

“The way our Olympic qualifying system works, you've got to be good this week and for us, we weren't very good this week,” said Jones.

“I know you guys don't like to hear this,” she said to the allergic-to-cliches members of the media. “But we were just on the wrong side of the inch.”

Already in the coming Scotties as Team Canada, the poster girl for this event said her game plan is just to go home and enjoy the holidays and move on.

“It's just curling. Going to the Olympics is not what it's all about for us. Obviously we're disappointed. But to dwell on it ... We'd drive ourselves crazy.”

What happened?

“We're not really sure,” said Officer.

“It's going to take time to figure out.

“We're going to have to go back and debrief, I guess. I'm not sure what it was. At the provincials, the Scotties and the Worlds, we've always been able to perform.”

The stats tell the story.

Jones was sixth in skip statistics with a 76% trials. Overton-Clapham was tied for fifth among thirds at 78% and Officer fourth among seconds at 80%. Only lead Dawn Askin topped the tables at her position.

“We just didn't play well,” said Overton-Clapham. “I don't think we can pin point it beyond that.”

They're not the first team to leave the trials in stunned disbelief with four years to try figure it out.

It's criminal what happens to top teams here.


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