What a way to win

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:41 AM ET

ST. JOHN'S, Nfld. -- She dreamed of winning a Canadian women's curling championship since she was a little girl and often in her mind's eye pictured herself making the winning shot with everything on the line.

But even Jennifer Jones had to admit that her dream never included the kind of circus shot that made her a Canadian champion yesterday.

Manitoba 8 Ontario 6

"No, it was an easier shot (in my dreams), but you know what, this is more exciting," a breathless Jones said moments after her brilliant shot for four points with last rock in the 10th end gave her an 8-6 win over Ontario's Jenn Hanna in the Scott Tournament of Hearts final. "I'm glad that I made a big shot under pressure. I'm not going to say it was easy because it wasn't, but it was there and we made it."

It was a moment of pure greatness and one that will dominate highlight reels in this country for quite a while. With her team trailing 6-4 in the final end, Jones called for a hit and roll off an Ontario rock that was just outside the rings. She needed to throw big weight and needed her shooter to come in off the side rock and bump another Ontario stone out of the house.

It seemed a tall order, given the circumstances and the fact that Jones herself was having an awful game to that point. But she made it and then showed her true emotions, throwing her arms in the air, screaming at the top of her lungs and racing up the ice to celebrate with her joyous teammates.

"Jen made a fantastic shot," said Manitoba second Jill Officer, who was the first to jump into the skip's arms. "I think we all saw it was going to happen. But it was so exciting, that when I was sweeping that rock down there and I almost couldn't see."

Jones curled just 70% in the game and missed several key shots that resulted in steals for Hanna. But all that is forgotten now.

The Jones foursome is the first from Manitoba to win a Canadian women's title since Connie Laliberte did it in 1995.

Jones, third Cathy Overton-Clapham, Officer and Gauthier formed a so-called dream team a year ago and it paid off with quick success. The foursome will now represent Canada at the world women's championship in Paisley, Scotland March 19-27.

Above and beyond that, the foursome also gets a berth in the 2005 Olympic trials next December in Halifax, receives $144,000 in Sport Canada funding over the next three years and gets to be Team Canada at the Scott next year in London, Ont.

All perks the Manitoba players didn't allow themselves to think about until after yesterday's game.

"If you come into the game thinking about all that you will lose your marbles, and you'll hog every rock," said Gauthier. "But when you look at it now, the benefits that go beyond having the Maple Leaf on your back are unbelievable."

Overton-Clapham said she was amazed Jones even had the chance to play the in-off shot for the win.

"We were surprised that (Hanna) didn't put her last rock in the house," she said. "I think if she put her rock in the house, we would have been in tough to get two and even tie."

Hanna, a Scott rookie from Ottawa, showed tremendous class all week and was the star for much of the tournament. Her team of third Pascale Letendre, second Dawn Askin and lead Steph Hanna probably deserved a better fate in the final, but was simply beaten by a remarkable shot.

"If someone had told me at the start of the year they would hand me second place in the country, I would have taken it in a second," Hanna said.

PEBBLES: Final attendance at Mile One Stadium was 72,799 ... The first all-star team, as selected by the media, was Manitoba skip Jennifer Jones, Saskatchewan third Marliese Miller, Ontario second Dawn Askin and Canada lead Nancy Delahunt. The second team was Ontario skip Jenn Hanna, Ontario third Pascale Letendre, Saskatchewan second Sherri Singler and Newfoundland lead Susan O'Leary. Hanna was named tournament MVP.

PARTY TIME: The St. Vital Curling Club will host a reception for the Jones rink tonight at 7 o'clock.


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