SOCHI, Russia — It could be a golden couple of days for Manitoba curling.
The Jennifer Jones team from the St. Vital Curling Club will play Sweden’s Margaretha Sigfridsson Thursday in the women’s curling final (7:30 a.m. CBC) at the Winter Olympics while the Brad Jacobs’ Team Canada team that include’s Winnipeg’s Ryan Fry will play for gold on Friday (7:30 a.m. CBC) against Great Britain.
Local curling fans have a couple of options to gather together Thursday morning for the women’s gold-medal match. The St. Vital Curling Club will be open at 7 a.m. and the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame Gallery (145 Pacific Ave.) is hosting a breakfast ($5) at 7:30.
Jones defeated Great Britain’s Eve Muirhead 6-4 in the semifinal today and was very emotional after the victory.
"It’s a dream come true. It’s what every athlete wants. You’re going to make me cry. I was not going to cry," said Jones. "We have an opportunity but win or lose I’m so proud of us. I can’t ask for any thing more. We just want to go out and play as well as we played and hopefully we have that last shot coming home.
"This is so amazing. It’s incredible to think we’ll be up on that podium. Certainly we want to be on the top of the podium and we’re going to get up and be ready. I’m curling with the most amazing girls and I couldn’t imagine being here with anyone else."
The entire team has Manitoba roots, Jones was born in Winnipeg as were second Jill Officer and third Kaitlyn Lawes. Lead Dawn McEwen moved to Winnipeg to join the team and has settled in the city with husband and World Curling Tour regular Mike McEwen.
"We don’t know what colour we’re getting but we’re getting a medal," said McEwen. "It would be great to make it gold."
Jones scored two in the first end and then stole a single in the second to take control of the game. But Muirhead refused to go away and chipped away at the lead to trail 5-4 going home but Jones managed to wrest away the hammer.
Canada will play for a third straight gold medal in Olympic men’s curling.
The Jacobs team from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. advanced to Friday’s championship with a 10-6 win over China’s Rui Liu in the semifinal.
Kevin Martin’s Edmonton foursome won gold four years ago in Vancouver. Brad Gushue from St. John’s, N.L. won Canada’s first men’s curling gold in 2006.
"I’m going to enjoy it probably until sometime Thursday night and then start re-focusing," said Fry. "This is a great win for us and a great win for Canada especially with the start we had and under the pressure that comes with wearing the maple leaf. To have a silver medal now and have the opportunity to play for a gold medal is a phenomenal feeling and one that we’re going to cherish through the night for sure."
Jones needed to draw to the four-foot for the win and she delivered before she and the rest of her team jumped into the air to celebrate their accomplishment.
"We had to make a shot to win the game and the girls swept it perfectly. In the biggest moment under the most pressure we made a finesse shot to win the game. I’m proud of us," said Jones, who made the shot of the game with a long double in the eighth end which forced Muirhead to blank rather that put up a crooked number. "We made a lot of big shots in the second half of the game, a lot of cross-house doubles, a lot of big shots when it looked like they might get a two. We just never let them get their deuce in the second half. We just maintained control."
Jones went 9-0 in round robin play to become the first women’s team to go through unbeaten. Canada’s Kevin Martin went 9-0 in Vancouver and then went on to win gold to become the only unbeaten curler in Olympic history.
Jones is vying to become the first Canadian women’s team to win gold since Sandra Schmirler won the event in 1998 at Nagano. Canada’s Kelley Law on bronze in 2002, Shannon Kleibrink won bronze in 2006 and Cheryl Bernard won silver in 2010.