Nightmare at trials for Jones

JIM BENDER, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 10:09 AM ET

The emotional voice on the other end of the cellphone summed it up perfectly.

"Kinda crappy," Dawn Askin, the lead for Manitoba's Jennifer Jones said, choking out her words as she was admittedly on the edge of tears.

Jones lost her last game of the Canadian Curling Trials in Edmonton to Alberta's Shannon Kleibrink yesterday to finish a shocking 2-5.

While Jones has never dominated at any national or international event she won, and even struggled at some provincials, she has NEVER finished with such a poor record on such a grandiose stage. It was even worse than in 2005 when she was hospitalized overnight due to a kidney-stone attack, but still posted a 5-4 record.

And she was the overwhelming favourite. With good reason. Jones was the first to qualify for the trials, then won events that would have qualified her team all over again. Those include two Canadian crowns, a world title and two Players' Championships. During those wins, Jones also established a reputation for playing her best with her back against the glass.

There was never any doubt that Jones had her cap set to represent Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and had plenty of time to prepare. Maybe too much time.

But to come out and play so lousy against the best teams in Canada is not only dumbfounding, it is downright confusing.

"I don't think any of us played to our potential," Askin said. "We just weren't as consistent as we can be."

Actually, they were consistently bad.

"We got caught on the ice early and we couldn't recover," Jones admitted. "We went 0-2 and it killed us. You live and learn."

Jones did show a sign of that never-say-die spark but it was quickly extinguished as her Olympic dreams were dashed.

"If I could put my finger on it, I would have fixed it," said Jones, who uncharacteristically missed several open draws and finished sixth among the eight skips, shooting 76%. "We just weren't as sharp as we needed to be.

"We worked really, really hard and wanted to excel at this event but it just didn't work out. It just wasn't meant to be."

Did they want it TOO badly?

"No, we've always had a great perspective on this event," Jones responded. "Yeah, I want to go to the Olympics, and so does every Canadian, but you can't sometimes make things happen.

"We just didn't make enough shots and couldn't get things going. It's very disappointing."

Third Cathy Overton-Clapham, who is usually among the leaders at her position at every event, finished fifth at 78%.

"Obviously, we're extremely disappointed, but what do we do?" she said, then actually laughed. "What am I going to do, cry? We worked very hard for this but didn't play as well as we could have."

The foursome will spend the next two months or more scratching their heads.

"It's going to take time to figure out," second Jill Officer told the Sun. "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."

Jones still has the Canadian Scotties Tournament of Hearts, where she will be Team Canada, as consolation, but you wonder if her squad will ever recover from this nightmare.

"We can't let it ruin our whole year," Askin said.

"Going to the Olympics is not what it's all about for us," Jones said. "Obviously we're disappointed. But to dwell on it ... We'd drive ourselves crazy."

Just how Jones and her teammates rebound will be the next chapter in the legend they are writing.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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