Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones is headed to back to the final at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
The four-time winner defeated Team Canada 8-5 in Sunday morning’s semi-final to eliminate defending champ Heather Nedohin, coming from behind after a slow start to score six points in the final four ends.
Jones and teammate Jill Officer now have a chance to join Colleen Jones, Mary-Anne Arsenault, Nancy Delahunt, Kim Kelly, Joyce McKee and Cathy Overton-Clapham as the only women to have won five or more titles.
The 38-year-old Manitoba skip was the story of the tournament all week, as her team was the first in 28 years to go undefeated in the round robin before a loss to Ontario’s Rachel Homan in the one-two playoff game on Saturday.
Now Jones and Homan will meet for the third time in the rubber match for the title.
“I thought we hung in there and fought for that win,” Jones said. “We played well coming home so hopefully we’ll carry that through till tonight.”
Jones appeared to be in tough again early in Sunday’s semi-final, as Nedohin’s team was nearly flawless through the first six ends in building a 4-2 lead despite not starting with the hammer.
The decisive moment, however, came in at the end of the eighth end when, with the house packed with stones around the button, the Edmonton skip narrowly missed with last rock to give Manitoba a steal of two and a 6-4 lead.
The defending champ slammed her broom and crouched to the ground, knowing her rink would be in tough to recover.
“When you see their two go up on the wrong side of the scoreboard, obviously it’s not a good time,” Nedohin said.
Jones then made a brilliant last shot in the ninth – making a double takeout that left Manitoba sitting one – to force Nedohin to draw for a single point with the hammer.
That set up a final end where Canada had to steal a single to force extra ends, something that wasn’t possible with Manitoba – a team that had three of the tournament’s four first all-stars – on the defensive.
“We came out with great intentions and I thought we executed really well,” Nedohin said of her team, which shot 89 per cent to Manitoba’s 82. “I thought we outplayed them for the first half. The second half I have to say we got a bad break.
“That big steal hurt us in eight. But I really thought we showed great character. It was a great battle.”
Making the win all the more impressive for Jones is what she has gone through the past year. Only eight months removed from knee surgery and three months removed from the birth of her first child, the Winnipeg lawyer was unable to compete through much of the curling season with the dual recoveries.
Now she can cap a dream comeback by breaking the tie with Homan’s young Ottawa rink in Sunday’s final, which will be played at 7 p.m. ET.
Canada will face British Columbia’s Kelly Scott for the bronze later this afternoon.