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Upsets galore across Canada

Lots of newcomers will be at nationals

STONEWALL -- You can expect Jennifer Jones to be anointed the favourite -- maybe even a heavy favourite -- to win the Canadian women's curling championship next month in Kingston, Ont.

Like Manitoba, most of the other provinces also qualified their women's champions on Sunday. But unlike Manitoba, there were big upsets in several other key provinces.

In Saskatchewan, Jill Shumay stunned Saskatoon juggernaut Stefanie Lawton to qualify her team from tiny Maidstone for what will be Shumay's first Scotties.

Inexperience also won out in Alberta, another province that usually sends veteran squads to the nationals. Grande Prairie's Kristie Moore -- who got her Alberta berth through acclamation because of a shortage of northern entries -- defeated Renee Sonnenberg in the final to qualify for just her second national Scotties and first since 2000.

Veteran Alberta powerhouses Crystal Webster and Shannon Kleibrink did not survive to even see the final day, while Heather Nedohin did not compete because she's already qualified for Kingston as the defending champion.

Another upset came in Nova Scotia, where that province's strongest team in recent years, skipped by Heather Smith-Dacey, did not even qualify for the final. Instead, the final was won by what is essentially a reconfigured version of the five-time Canadian champion squad skipped by Colleen Jones, except with Mary Anne Arsenault skipping, Jones at vice skip and throwing second rocks, former lead Nancy Delahunt at fifth and only third Kim Kelly playing the same position.

Jones, 53, has not appeared at the national Scotties since 2006.

In other provinces, former world champion and native Winnipegger Kelly Scott won B.C.; Kerry Galusha won NWT/YT; Rachel Homan won Ontario; Allison Ross won Quebec; Stacie Devereaux won Newfoundland; and Suzanne Birt (née Gaudet) won P.E.I. The New Brunswick playdowns have not started yet.

-- -- --

Kingston will be a homecoming of sorts for Jennifer Jones lead -- and Ontario native -- Dawn Askin.

"This one was really special for me because I have so many friends and family in Kingston... We'll have lots of crowds out there for us -- and for me," Askin laughed.

-- -- --

Jones third Kaitlyn Lawes said the unusual path her team took through this season -- which included her skipping the team for several months while Jones recuperated from having knee surgery and delivering a baby -- only makes them stronger now. "I think every obstacle that's kind of thrown at us is a good thing. And we can only learn from them and get stronger as a team."

-- -- --

LOOSEHAIRS -- Although she didn't win in Manitoba this weekend, Shannon Kleibrink didn't win in Alberta either, which means Chelsea Carey is still in the driver's seat to get a Trials berth at the end of this winter through points. Kleibrink and Carey are in a tight points battle and Carey leads.

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