CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — She’s still not the crowd favourite, but Jennifer Jones isn’t letting that stop her from storming towards her fourth straight Canadian women’s curling title.
Jones shrugged off the first-place Saskatchewan team and its noisy, green-clad supporters here, Friday, to barge onto the precipice of curling history.
A win by the Winnipeg-born Team Canada skip in Sunday’s final would match the record four consecutive Scotties Tournament of Hearts championships won by Halifax’s Colleen Jones.
“I don’t even think about the record,” Jones said. “It’s just all about playing well and hopefully enjoy the moment.”
The moment is possible because Jones wouldn’t let a little thing like a 5-2 deficit at the midpoint of the one-vs-two game throw her off.
Amber Holland, the darling of the round robin, jumped out of the gate and got the crowd on board with a daring double-kill to score two in the fifth end.
“Down three after five in a 10-end game is really not that big of a deal,” Jones said. “We turned it up in the second half, which was nice.”
Storming back to score seven of the next nine points, including three in the ninth, Team Canada took advantage of Saskatchewan miscues to win it, 10-9, in an extra end.
“We had a really crappy ninth,” Holland said. “Now you’re down to sudden death. And sometimes when your back’s against the wall, you play your best.”
That’s something Holland and Co. haven’t done lately, losing three of four.
They’ll try to turn it around in a Saturday semifinal against either Ontario or Nova Scotia, who square off in the three-four game.
Nova Scotia’s Heather Smith-Dacey advanced by sending B.C.’s Kelly Scott home, 9-8 in a Friday tiebreaker.
Scott got off to a miserable start, missing early and often as her team failed to adjust to what she called slicker, straighter ice, trailing 6-0 after just four ends.
“Can we start over again?” she wondered, before eventually clawing her way back into the game. But she’d dug too deep a hole.
Smith-Dacey faces Ontario’s young Rachel Homan in Saturday’s three-four game, just two months after taking over the team when six-time champ Colleen Jones fell ill.
“It’s a piece of cake,” Smith-Dacey joked about running the show again for the first time in years. “It came back to me fairly quickly. We’re super excited to be where we’re at.”
For Homan, 21, it’s obviously the biggest game of her life, although she doesn’t seem quite ready to digest such a large serving of reality
“I don’t think about it like that,” Homan said. “It could be, maybe.”
Maybe for 38-year-old Smith-Dacey, too.
“One of the biggest for me,” she agreed. “I’m at a different stage of my life, obviously, with children and businesses and all that stuff. But we’re just thrilled to be in this position.”
Several others teams wish they were.
But with Jones and her powerful team waiting at the top of the hill, on that precipice of history, the task is immense.