Jennifer Jones: clutch, proud and on the verge of history

Jennifer Jones: on the verge of history

Undefeated and one win away from curling gold

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

It’s the little things that get you. For Eve Muirhead’s Great Britain curling crew it was bit of grit or maybe a human hair on the ice that led to her flubbed shot in the first end Wednesday at the Sochi Winter Games. The microscopic debris diverted Muirhead’s rock from an easy takeout. “It didn’t miss by a fraction,” British curling performance director David Hay lamented, “It missed by a country mile.”

Canada’s Kelly Law and company pounced, stealing two in the first end. They took a second point in end two and never looked back.

Jones’ semi-final win means Canada is guaranteed at least a silver medal when they square off against Sweden Thursday. “It’s a dream come true. To be on that podium is really our goal, and we’re there,” a emotional Jones said later. “I’m so proud of us, I thought we came out and played lights out today,” said Jones. “We’re going to be on the podium no matter what, and nobody can ever take that away from us.”

It took a clutch draw by Jones in the last show of the 10th end to seal the deal. “The girls swept it perfectly. In the biggest moment, under the most pressure we made a really finesse shot to win the game.”

To have the outcome of the crucial first end determined by a bit of poor housekeeping on the ice is rare, but it does happen. “It’s just part of the game,” said Jones. “It’s unfortunate when it happens but it’s one of those things in the game, and it worked out well for us today.”

“I am gutted,” said Muirhead, who at 23, is the reigning world champion. Jones, a 39-year-old veteran, says experience certainly played a factor in her team’s calm demeanor. “We’ve played in a lot of big games, none bigger than the one today for sure.”

The win by Jones’ team exacted a measure of revenge for Canada. In Sochi, the British women’s coach is Rhona Howie. In 2002, Rhona Martin, as she was then known, defeated Canadian skip Kelley Law in the semis of the Salt Lake City Winter Games. Martin went on to win gold while Law’s crew beat the U.S. for bronze.

Jones was floating on air after Wednesday’s win. An Olympic gold medal is a childhood dream, she said. “It’s what ever athlete wants. You’re going to make me cry,” she told a reporter who asked about her aspirations. “I was not going to cry. It’s what every athlete wants to do. We have an opportunity—but win or lose it, I’m so proud of us.”

With that, she blinked her eyes to show off her golden eye shadow. Expect her to be wearing it Thursday as well. Silver, she said, wasn’t an option.

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