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Jennifer Jones’ Olympic experience has been, well, perfect.
“It’s been everything we expected and then some,” the Winnipeg skip said. “It’s blown my dreams out of the water.
“We’ve gone to events, we’ve had fun, we’ve soaked up the experience, we’ve met the other athletes, we’ve cheered on our other teammates. We’ve laughed, we’ve loved everything absolutely possible, done everything with the Olympics. I don’t want it to end, we don’t want it to end.”
Jones, lead Dawn McEwen, second Jill Officer and third Kaitlyn Lawes have also won nine games in a row, making history in the process.
They dispatched South Korea 9-4 Monday to become the first women’s team to go through an Olympic round-robin campaign undefeated.
“Just to be at the Olympics is amazing,” said Jones. “And to go into the record books is pretty awesome.
“We’ll take that one, but at the end of the day we want to be on the podium so that’s definitely the goal.”
Canada’s Kevin Martin, who did it four years ago in Vancouver, is the only other curler to go through the preliminary round undefeated.
“The job is certainly not done yet but I’m super proud of our team for being able to do that, in a field that we thought coming in was one of the toughest fields,” said Officer.
Canada will face Britain (5-4) while Sweden (7-2) takes on Switzerland (5-4) in Wednesday’s semifinals.
“Now you start fresh,” said Jones. “And everyone’s on an even record.”
Canada beat the Brits 9-6 during the round-robin.
While Jones’ curling trophy case is brimming with trophies, she has had to wait a long time to experience the Olympics.
She failed to secure an Olympic berth in both 2006 and 2010. Shannon Kleibrink won bronze in 2006 in Turin while Cheryl Bernard earned silver four years ago in Vancouver.
Canada has not won a women’s curling gold at the Games since the late Sandra Schmirler did it in 1998 in Nagano.
So far, so good for Jones in her Olympic debut.
“We’ve been very consistent,” she said. “We’ve had a couple of games where we weren’t as sharp but still consistent and making the big shots when we have to.”
On Monday, Jones and her teammates were all smiles on the ice. Mistakes were quickly forgiven.
“We were having fun,” said Jones, a four-time Canadian champion and 2008 world champion. “That’s the one thing that we came into these Olympics (with), we wanted to make sure that we enjoyed it. We’ve waited a whole lifetime it feels like to get here and we’ve had a lot of attempts and we’ve failed to make the Olympics so we wanted to enjoy it.
“And this was our last round-robin game, so we just enjoyed it. We soaked it up and it’s a moment we will never forget.”
The Koreans’ rock-em, sock-em style of play paid dividends early Monday. But the Canadians, coached by Janet Arnott, improved as the game wore on.
South Korea scored two in the opening end as Gim Un Chi, the Korean vice-skip who throws fourth, cleared out two Canadian rocks with her first throw before drawing for a deuce.
The 39-year-old Jones escaped in the second, drawing to the button with her last rock to score a slender single with four Korean rocks in the house.
In the third, the Canadian skip put a beautifully weighted rock on the button, just next to a Korean stone, with her penultimate throw. But Gim was up to the task, with a double takeout for two points and a 4-1 lead.
Jones took control of the fourth, scoring two to cut the deficit to 4-3 and stole a single in the fifth to tie it at 4-4 when Gim failed to move a Canadian shot rock enough with her last throw.
The teams blanked the sixth end.
Kim nudged her own rock to remove two Canadian stones in the seventh but Jones stole a single after Gim’s final rock failed to stick. That made it 5-4 and gave Canada the lead for the first time.
Jones turned the screws in the eighth. With Canada having shot rock, Jones drew to the button — with a Korean rock just behind — with her last throw to lie two. Gim failed to dislodge the rocks, allowing Canada to steal two and lead 7-4.
Jones added two more in the ninth, prompting the Koreans to shake hands.
The Canadian skip’s one regret was that she hadn’t been able to introduce alternate Kirsten Wall into the game.
“She’s been a huge asset to our team.” said Jones, who had thought the Koreans were going to play the 10th. “She just does so much for us and is a great player. We really wanted to get her on the ice.”
Jones’s cheering section here includes partner Brent Laing, a two-time Brier and world champion with skip Glenn Howard. But daughter Isabella, just 15 months, is back home.
“It was too long of a travel,” Jones said. “She’s with grandma and I Skype her every day and I just got a beautiful collage of pictures. She was holding a sign so it made my day.”
South Korean skip Kim Jisun, who throws second, finished at 3-6.
The 26-year-old Kim, just five foot one, is married to Chinese Olympic curler Xu Xiaoming.
Latvia hockey coach Ted Nolan, a Canadian, took in the Canada game at the Ice Cube Curling Center.