And then there was one.
Val Sweeting, the 26-year-old skip from Vegreville, Alta., knocked off four-time Scotties winner Jennifer Jones on Monday night to claim sole possession of first place at the Canadian Olympic curling trials.
But she says her young squad isn’t going to drop that underdog moniker just yet.
“We still like to think we are,” said Sweeting, who curls out of Edmonton with third Joanne Courtney, 24, second Dana Ferguson, 26, and lead Rachelle Pidherny, 27.
“Yeah we’re 3-0 but there’s lots of week left and we don’t have a playoff spot or anything like that yet.”
Sweeting was down three early but evened things up in six and stole seven points en route to a convincing 9-6 win over Jones.
Jones, who entered the game in a tie for first with Sweeting, now sits in second at 2-1 along with fellow Winnipeg skip Chelsea Carey, who knocked off Ottawa’s Rachel Homan 9-8.
“We just missed a couple of bad shots and lost control of the game,” said Jones, who is trying to claim the one prize that has eluded her team, the right to represent Canada at the Olympics.
“We battled back and won one today, this morning and kind of let one slip away tonight but we’ll come beck sharper tomorrow.”
In the morning, Jones needed an extra end to finish off Middaugh.
Homan and the rest of the women’s field sit at 1-2.
Saskatoon’s Stefanie Lawton picked up her first win 8-6 over Renee Sonnenberg of Grande Prairie, Alta., and Edmonton’s Heather Nedohin also picked up her first win 6-3 over Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater, Ont.
Jones took an early 3-0 lead against Sweeting but got in trouble in the fourth end and then was heavy on a draw letting Sweeting to steal a crushing four in the seventh end.
On the men’s side, Jeff Stoughton made a great shot to tie their game but it wasn’t enough as Kevin Martin extended his winning streak to two games. That puts Stoughton in a must-win situation for the rest of the tournament.
“Wasn’t that something... you’re just never safe,” Martin said of Stoughton’s shot, minutes after the Edmonton skip’s single in the 10th made it 6-5.
“We had to make it a tough double and of course he made an incredible double and made it a close game.”
Brad Jacobs and John Morris also stayed undefeated. Morris, Martin’s former third, is curling with B.C.’s Jim Cotter and he beat Calgary’s Kevin Koe 6-4 and Jacobs, out of Sault Ste Marie, Ont., downed Winnipeg’s Mike McEwan 7-5.
Glenn Howard, out of Coldwater, also beat fellow Ontario skip John Epping of Toronto 9-5, which left both at 1-1.
The almost 6,000 at the MTS Centre had lots to cheer about as Stoughton made a difficult double off one of Martin’s stones to score three in the ninth.
He missed another, perhaps even more difficult, multiple takeout in the sixth that could have given him four but he had to settle for one.
Stoughton knows he has no more room left to lose another game, with all agreeing a record of 5-2 is probably a must to make the playoffs.
“I would think so. It’s not where we wanted to be after two games,” he said.
“We’ve played worse and won.”
He has already said this will be the last time he tries to win a spot on the Olympic team.
“There’s five games left . . We’re not out of this by any means.”
Martin agreed that losing more than two looks like elimination.
“Five and two is safe, four and three I don’t think ever has been.”
Jacobs was enjoying the moment as well.
“It’s a seven-game round robin so every win is huge. You feel great to be at 2-0. You wouldn’t want to be 0-2,” he said.
The Manitoba Curling Association and the province also announced Monday that curling is joining the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers and NHL’s Jets with a specialty license plate of its own, and part of the proceeds will go to the association’s Curling for Life Endowment Fund.Report Typo/Error