SOCHI, RUSSIA - You won’t often get Jennifer Jones to admit she’s doing something special until the last rock of the last game has been thrown and she’s the last skip standing.
In this case though, she couldn’t hold back.
Her team from Winnipeg, which includes third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jill Officer and lead Dawn McEwen, had just become the first women’s team in Olympic history to go through the round robin undefeated.
Nine games in a field stacked with former world champions and Olympic medallists.
“It feels unbelievable,” said Jones, 39. “In my opinion this is one of the toughest fields that has ever been assembled for women’s curling. To go through undefeated, and to go into the Olympic record books, is pretty awesome.
“At the end of the day we will take that one, but the goal is to be on the podium.”
Jones and her team finished first in the round robin — they were so dominant, they actually clinched first place back on Saturday — and will play Great Britain in the semifinals on Wednesday.
The prize for finishing first is a matchup with the defending world champion Eve Muirhead, but right now there is no team playing at the level the Jones foursome has achieved.
Canada steamrolled several teams and found ways to win the close ones during the round robin, including one against Great Britain in which Muirhead narrowly missed a shot for the victory.
Jones finished off the round robin with a 9-4 win over Korea on Monday night. It was a meaningless game for Canada, save for preserving its unblemished record, but Jones and her teammates came out with the usual focus.
“I was really happy,” she said. “We wanted to come out and have a ton of fun and just enjoy our last round-robin game.
“We had a couple of shaky moments early on and a couple of bad breaks, but we really finished strong and we feel great heading into the play-offs.
“We were having fun, we wanted to make sure we enjoyed it. We’ve waited a whole life to get here and this is a moment we will never forget.”
Muirhead finished with just a 5-4 record this week but emerged from an also-ran pack to squeeze into the semifinals, where she presents a danger to any opponent.
“We’re here and we’re in the best shape we’ve been in all year round, so we can’t use any excuses,” Muirhead said. “We just have to go home with absolutely no regrets.”
Great Britain coach David Hay had a warning for Canada.
“We’re definitely better at knockout than round-robin curling, for certain,” Hay said. “Eve’s won the world junior championship four times, seniors and Europeans, so they can handle the big day. That’s where it will be on Wednesday against Canada.”
Sweden (Margaretha Sigfridsson) will take on Switzerland (Mirjam Ott) in the other semifinal on Wednesday.
On the men’s side, Canada was off Monday, but was already assured of a semifinal spot.
The Brad Jacobs foursome from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., which includes third Ryan Fry, second E.J. Harnden and lead Ryan Harnden, will take on China’s Liu Rui in the semifinals on Wednesday.
The other semifinal will feature defending world champion Niklas Edin on Sweden against either Great Britain (David Murdoch) or Norway (Thomas Ulsrud).