The late miss helped decide a wild, entertaining and rather shocking women’s final at Canada’s Olympic Curling Trials on Sunday.
Jennifer Jones gave a great chance to win the game at the 10th end. The timing of Tracy Fleury’s mistake in the extra end proved even more costly.
When the dust settled, Jones avoided booking her team’s ticket to the Beijing Games with a 6-5 victory.
“We’re there to pick each other up when you miss,” Jones said. “Not everyone can say that and that’s really a great strength of our team.”
A gasp erupted across Saskatel Center when Jones missed an open takeout for the win – usually a slam dunk for the veteran skip – with his stone to leave him with just a game-tying single.
Jones halfway down from the sheet realized that the rock was in trouble. He shouted angrily to try to catch his teammates but it turned out to be a bit too much.
A stunned Fleury placed his hand on her mouth in surprise.
“We thought we definitely lost in 10th,” Fleury said. “I think Jen makes that shot 99 percent of the time. So we feel lucky to be able to go into a spare and we really want to get it out there.
“But I didn’t take my last two shots.”
Jones focused again and pressed on to force Fleury to make a challenging final throw. Jones came to the edge of Button behind a guard and Fleury missed a runback attempt.
Jones followed up with a guard that Fleury rubbed on his final throw to drop the deciding point on the steal.
“I felt closer but then it caught the curl,” Fleury said.
The men’s final between Brad Gusheau and Brad Jacobs was to be held on Sunday night.
Jones and her team of Kaitlyn Laws, Jocelyn Peterman, Don McEwen and Lisa Weagle entered the repertoire of Manitoba-based teams with a huge edge in experience.
Jones won Olympic gold at the 2014 Sochi Games and won six national women’s titles. Fleury and her team of Selena Njegovan, Liz Fife and Kristin McCuish were making their first appearance in the Trials Finals.
The initial setbacks seemed to be a factor.
Rollouts were common in the first end and Jones quickly pressed for a steal. Jones buried a draw to force Fleury to tap but she brushed her stone and rolled over.
Njegovan’s numbers were small in the early stages. Vice-Skip shoves his two stones into a runback attempt at the other end but his side recovers for one.
Jones also made some mistakes as he sent a draw through the rings at the third end, eventually settling for a two-for-one hit. Fleury responded with a pair of his own and Laws came into the fifth end with a spectacular triple-takeout that set up a blank.
The top-ranked Fleury team was not nearly as impressive as they were in most of the round-robin games at Saskatel Center.
Her perfect score of 8–0 gave her the first seed and the day before the final. Jones was 5-3 in round-robin play and defeated Christa McCarville in the semifinals on Saturday.
Jones scored another point in the sixth end when his draw shot caught Stone and settled on the edge of the four-foot ring. A measure confirmed a single instead of a pair, giving it a 4–3 lead.
In the eighth end, Fleury looked to set up a force, but Jones scored a hit and rolled under cover to save the blank.
Nejegovan further accelerated his game in the second half. He made two excellent taps at the ninth end in a crowded home and Fleury followed with two fine draws.
Jones decides to drop a single to keep the hammer for the 10th end.
Kevin Coe and Rachel Homan skipped the Canadian team’s entries at the 2018 Winter Games but both missed the podium.
Laws and John Morris won the mixed doubles title at their Olympic debut that year in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The Beijing Olympics are scheduled for February 4-20.
The Canadian mixed doubles trial is set for December 28-January. 2 Portage in La Prairie, Man.