Not to be forgotten

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

ST. JOHN'S, Nfld. -- It may have been the single greatest moment in Canadian curling history, one of those rare situations where everyone watching realized they were witnessing history.

Jennifer Jones' remarkable, almost unbelievable shot for four points and the win in the Scott Tournament of Hearts final yesterday had barely stopped moving when curling experts immediately began pegging it as the best shot ever to win a Canadian championship.

No argument here.

There was so much on the line on that one amazing throw -- a Canadian title and Olympic trials berth included -- that you simply can't imagine a greater clutch effort.

It came in a game that seemed to be lost, from a skip who had been playing far below her normal level for most of the day. It came when most people were expecting a handshake and a crowning moment for Jenn Hanna, a rookie skip from Ontario.

It came under the bright lights of the national stage with a country of curling fans watching on CBC and it made people's jaws drop.

Let it be said that curling lore had a new chapter scripted yesterday.

"My parents said when they saw Jen call that angle they were thinking about the shot that Sandra Schmirler made in Brandon at the Olympic trials," Manitoba second Jill Officer said.

Actually, we were all thinking about that shot. The circumstances were so similar to the shot considered by many to be the greatest ever, until yesterday.

For all intents and purposes, Schmirler's in-off in 1997 was for the win, but it didn't come in the final end or on the final rock.

This one did.

Make it, or lose.

Miss by an inch and it was just another wild, last-ditch stab in the dark from a team that underperformed in its biggest game.

Instead, it was instant legend.

"The Schmirler shot wasn't for the victory," said CBC play-by-play man Don Wittman, who also called the action that day in 1997.

"It was a great shot, and it assured her of victory, but there were still a couple of ends after that. This one had everything on the line. This is a shot that will be remembered for a long time as perhaps the greatest ever. To make a shot like that with the final stone in the 10th end is just unbelievable."

Manitoba lead Cathy Gauthier went even further in her assessment of the shot's greatness in comparison to the Schmirler shot.

"The angle here was sharper, it was longer and it was all-or-nothing," she said. "It was mind-blowing. I just want to see that shot over and over again. We might be seeing it for a while somewhere."

It must be pointed out that Jones shot just 70% in the biggest game of her life.

Her draw weight was hopeless and she nearly flashed a takeout in the second end, resulting in a steal of two for Ontario.

She gave up steals in the fifth and sixth ends to trail 5-2 and came up light on a draw in the seventh that should have gotten her back into the game with a deuce.

But Jones proved to be a money player from there on, stealing one in the eighth and holding Hanna to one in the ninth despite gassing another draw that could have led to another steal.

And in the 10th, she made something magical happen that speaks to the very reason people watch sports.

For that moment of sheer glory that will be etched in the minds of curling fans from coast to coast for the rest of their days.

"It's a moment that I'll never forget as long as I live," Jones said.

Neither will we.


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