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Favoured Jones on the ropes; Bernard unbeaten at Trials

Jennifer Jones has no margin for error now. The dominant name in Canadian women’s curling for the past two years, Jones is now skipping the only women’s winless entry at the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, presented by Monsanto.

Jones, who operates out of Winnipeg’s St. Vital Curling Club, fell to 0-2 thanks to a Monday morning’s 9-3 thrashing at the hands of Thunder Bay’s Krista McCarville during the 2009 Canadian Curling Trials at Rexall Place.

She’ll need to start rolling immediately if she wants to represent Canada at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

“We just didn’t have it again. We got outplayed . . . it’s disappointing,” said Jones, the two-time defending champion at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. “It’s going to be a long week now. We’re going to have to pick it up, and hope things go our way.  I hate saying it, because it’s such a cliché, but we’re on the wrong side of the inch,” added Jones. “We all know what to do. Hopefully it’ll come together.”

Calgary’s Cheryl Bernard leads the eight-team women’s pack at Edmonton with a 2-0 record, thanks to a 6-5 squeaker over Amber Holland of Kronau, Sask.

Six other teams own a 1-1 record after Monday morning’s action, which saw Saskatoon’s Stefanie Lawton knock off Calgary’s Crystal Webster 8-7 in 11 ends and Calgary’s Shannon Kleibrink, a bronze-medal winner at the 2006 Torino Olympics, top Kelly Scott of Kelowna 9-6.

Jones, 35, has had her back to the wall in each of the past two Canadian women’s championships. Last spring in Victoria, B.C., she won five in a row to capture the Scotties; the year before in Regina, she reeled off seven straight victories to win the national crown, and went on to take the world title as well.

“We’ve had it turn around for us before. Maybe it’ll turn around for us again,” said Jones, who also won the 2005 Scotties at St. John’s, N.L. “If not, I just want to make sure we go out and have fun and enjoy it.

“We’ve come from behind before. Obviously, we’ve put ourselves in a really bad spot this time. It’s just disappointing to come out and not play as well as we’d like . . . it’s just a little frustrating.”

McCarville (1-1), who curls out of the Fort William Curling Club, essentially sealed the deal with a four-spot in the fifth end. The result was a critical rebound for the McCarville rink, which had qualified for the Roar of the Rings from the pre-Trials in Prince George, B.C., but had dropped an 11-7 opener to Bernard on a final-rock, five-ender.

“It feels really good. We hadn’t beaten them, ever, (although) we had really tight games against them, I think, every single time we played them,” said McCarville, 27. “So it feels so good to beat them now.

“The four (-point fifth) helped,” added McCarville. “We had a couple of good draws. Tara (George, her third) made a few really good draws, and theirs were hanging out, weren’t curling as much as ours were. And that gave me a wide-open draw on my last one, and a measure for four.  We took advantages of the (opposition) misses a little more than (Sunday). I think that was really key.”

Bernard scored the winning point in the 10th end on a three-time measure, breaking a 5-5 tie on a runback into a cluster of stones and emerging shot rock.

“We were struggling a little bit with the ice, and with some of the rocks on that sheet,” said Bernard, who operates out of the Calgary Curling Club. “I don’t like measures. It worked out in the end, though.”

Holland (1-1), who’d stolen singles in the eighth and ninth ends to knot the score, had allowed the same by Bernard in the fifth and sixth.

Bernard’s measured stone “was not the shot that won or lost the game,” said Holland, whose home base is the Kronau Curling Club. “You can’t give up two steals. You just can’t, although we were fortunate enough to get some steals back. It comes down to a measure, but there’s a lot of things we could have done earlier that would have made more of a difference.”

Kleibrink (1-1) tallied three in the second and fifth ends against Scott (1-1) in a rematch of the 2005 Olympic Trials final at Halifax, which had seen Kleibrink win 8-7.

“It was the right shot at the right time,” said Kleibrink, whose fifth-end outburst allowed her squad to take a 6-3 lead, after Scott had made a draw for three just one end previous. “It was important to score (in the fifth). I don’t know if we needed three, but it was sure nice.

“The ice was curling more,” added Kleibrink, who lives in Okotoks, Alta., and curls out of the Calgary Winter Club, “and we had a better handle on it. We were a little off when we first went out there (in Sunday’s 8-3 loss to Webster).”

That’s the way Scott felt Monday morning, after surrendering that early 3-0 lead and trying to play catch-up the rest of the way.

“Slow start. Not a sharp game. Poor draw weight in the first half of the game,” assessed Scott, of the Kelowna Curling Club, a two-time Scotties winner and the 2007 world champ. “We got comfortable with that . . . the good thing is, we got in a lot of draws that game.  Just a bit of a struggle.

Webster (1-1) had scored two in the 10th to push her game against Lawton (1-1) to an extra end. And in that 11th, the Webster team set a table that featured three guards and a stone biting the four-foot ring, but Lawton made an in-turn draw to the four-foot for the winning tally.

“You know they’re going to make tough shots. It was a good finish . . . to make a draw to the four-foot, that’s exactly what the skip wants,” said Lawton, the 2008 Canada Cup winner out of the Nutana Curling Club.

Webster, who qualified for Edmonton after winning the ‘A’ side at the Road to the Roar pre-Trials in Prince George, considered Monday’s result an opportunity lost.

“I really didn’t have my best game,” said Webster, of the Calgary Curling Club. “So to be tied up after 10 . . . in a game like that where I’m having a struggle, it’s a pretty good position for us to be in. We had a really great chance to make that; she made a great shot with her last one.”

During Monday’s 6 p.m. MT draw, it’ll be Jones vs. Scott, McCarville vs. Lawton, Holland vs. Kleibrink and Bernard vs. Webster.

Monday’s 1 p.m. MT draw, the second for the men at the Roar of the Rings, will pit Edmonton’s Kevin Koe (1-0) against Jason Gunnlaugson (0-1) of Beausejour, Man.; Glenn Howard (1-0) of Coldwater, Ont., vs. Toronto’s Wayne Middaugh (1-0); Edmonton’s Randy Ferbey (1-0) vs. Winnipeg’s Jeff Stoughton (0-1); and Pat Simmons (0-1) of Davidson, Sask., vs. Edmonton’s Kevin Martin (1-0).