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Canada’s Jones opens with high-scoring win over South Korea in women’s Olympic curling open


‘Usually we bring it down to the wire. What a way to start the Olympics’

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BEIJING — In many ways it was a game that was typical of Team Jennifer Jones.

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Lots of scoring, a few mistakes, some big make-up shots, and, in the end, a victory to continue a perfect run at the Olympics.

“Never a dull moment,” Jones said after leading Canada to a 12-7 win over South Korea’s EunJung Kim to open the women’s curling event at the Olympic Winter Games.

“Normal for Team Jones … lots of scoring. Lots of hits and draws, some hacks, some back-liners. It was a fun game to play, I think a fun game to watch.

“Everybody’s at the St. Vital Curling Club (in Winnipeg) having pancakes, so we gave them lots to be entertained about.”

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Jones has still never lost a game at the Olympics. Her team went 11-0 in winning the gold medal in 2014 in Sochi and is now 1-0 in Beijing.

Thursday’s win came against the 2018 Olympic silver medallists and, while everyone would have liked the game to have been a bit more clean, none of the Canadians were complaining.

The team, which includes third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jocelyn Peterman and lead Dawn McEwen, had not played a game since November 28, at the Canadian Olympic trials in Saskatoon.

“Considering we haven’t played a competitive game in that long, I’m super proud of how we came out,” Jones said. “I thought we played well from start to finish. There were a couple of blips along the way, but pretty good, considering everything that’s going on.”

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The team curled 82% overall, with Jones coming in at 83%, Lawes at 74%, Peterman at 86% and McEwen at 85%.

Skip Jennifer Jones of Canada, Jocelyn Peterman of Canada and Vice Kaitlyn Lawes of Canada react after winning the game.
Skip Jennifer Jones of Canada, Jocelyn Peterman of Canada and Vice Kaitlyn Lawes of Canada react after winning the game. Photo by EVELYN HOCKSTEIN /REUTERS

“We’ll definitely take the W,” Lawes said. “It was an exciting game, back and forth early. I had a couple shots that I want back, but, at the end of the day, it was a great team effort and we made some big shots when we needed them.”

The game was tied 6-6 after six ends, but the Canadians pulled ahead for good in the seventh, scoring their second three-ender of the game.

But it remained close until the end and came down to last rock, as Kim tried a Hail Mary triple-takeout to score three and tie it in the 10th. It wound up going for a steal of two points for Canada.

“Typical Team Jones fashion,” Lawes said. “Usually we bring it down to the wire. What a way to start the Olympics.”

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Canada will face Japan on Thursday afternoon in its second game.

Two-time reigning world champion Sylvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland opened with a pair of wins on Thursday and is tied atop the early standings with Tabitha Peterson of the United States at 2-0.

COOL HAND BRAD

The winning shot from Thursday’s game against Norway says everything about how confident Canadian skip Brad Gushue is with his draw weight.

Needing a single point to win the game, and with a Norwegian stone counting, Gushue could have easily played a takeout. He could even have afforded to roll out, as Canada already had another rock biting the rings.

But Gushue had no interest in that seemingly safer shot. He immediately put the broom down and called for a draw, needing only to hit full eight-foot for the win, and pretty much put it on the button to give Canada the 6-5 victory and a 2-0 record in the men’s curling competition.

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“If I can’t draw to the eight-foot, I shouldn’t be here,” Gushue said after curling an impressive 99% in the game.

Usually we bring it down to the wire

“That’s my attitude. That’s my forte, that’s what I’m best at. If I throw it close, the sweepers are going to handle it down there.”

Canada got a stiff test from Steffen Walstad’s team from Norway.

Though Canada curled 92% as a team, the Norwegians weren’t far behind at 87% and it was a close game throughout.

Walstad made two terrific raises to score a deuce in the ninth end and tie the score at 5-5.

Jocelyn Peterman and Dawn McEwan sweep during the womens round robin session 2 game of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at the National Aquatics Centre in Beijing on February 10, 2022.
Jocelyn Peterman and Dawn McEwan sweep during the womens round robin session 2 game of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at the National Aquatics Centre in Beijing on February 10, 2022. Photo by LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA /AFP via Getty Images

That put the pressure on Canada, but it was handled easily. Lead Geoff Walker made two tick shots to clear the centre line and Gushue was left with the easy draw for the win.

Surely, there are some skips — even some in the Olympics — who would have played the hit in that situation, just to be sure there was no chance of a steal.

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“It depends on the player, depends on the situation,” Canada third Mark Nichols said. “If we hadn’t thrown any draws all game we might have leaned toward a hit. But if Brad’s got a draw to touch the four-foot to win a game, I like our chances.”

With two wins in their pockets already — against teams they were expected to beat in Denmark and Norway — the Canadians were looking more than 24 hours off, before taking on Switzerland (Peter de Cruz) on Friday night (8:05 a.m. ET) at the Ice Cube.

That will be a tough test, against a team that is a perennial contender at the international level.

But Canada has looked strong so far and second Brett Gallant believes it’s a good sign heading into a heavier part of the schedule.

“Brad looked really comfortable reading the ice and putting the broom down and throwing today,” Gallant said. “That’s what you want out of your skip. That’s why he’s throwing the last two.”

Twyman@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/Ted_Wyman

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