Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones plays final game of team career

By Jonathan Brazeau, Sportsnet

Jennifer Jones’s legendary playing career in women’s curling came to a close Friday night at the Princess Auto Players’ Championship.

Jones bid farewell as the packed house at the Mattamy Athletic Centre gave her a standing ovation following her 7-6 loss to Sweden’s Team Anna Hasselborg in the final round-robin draw that eliminated her Winnipeg team from playoff contention with a 1-4 record.

“The Best” by Tina Turner played over the arena speakers in a fitting salute to the iconic skip who has won Olympic gold, two world championships, six Scotties Tournament of Hearts titles and 10 Grand Slam of Curling titles.

“I feel really good with my decision,” Jones told Sportsnet’s Robbie Doherty after the game. “I mean, just look at the crowd here tonight, it was incredible, and I’m just so grateful for all the memories and all the people who came out to support. I’m going to miss it with everything inside of me, but I know I’ve got so many great memories and I’m always going to look back on them with fondness.”

Jones reflected on just a handful of those memories, but being a part of the rise in women’s curling over the past couple decades is also something that holds special meaning to her.

“I think for me like, obviously, the shot in ’05 for our first Canadian championship, the Olympic gold medal, the semifinal in that Olympics and the trials in Winnipeg, there are so many things but even when the women finally got to come to the Slams, all them,” Jones told Doherty. “Like the Players’ was our first one and then all of them and how women’s curling has evolved over the time that I’ve been involved. It’s been so fun to be part of that ride. I think that’s what I’m really, really grateful for.”

This isn’t a final goodbye but a farewell for now. Jones plans to continue playing mixed doubles with her husband, Brent Laing, and she will also serve as a strategic adviser for The Curling Group, a new venture which has acquired the Grand Slam of Curling series from Sportsnet.

Jones needed the win to extend her tournament, and her career, for at least another day as she would have advanced to a tiebreaker against Team Kerri Einarson (2-3).

“That was such an honour to be on the ice for her ‘last dance,'” Hasselborg said. “We played a really good game, Jenn played a really good game, it was a fun game to play. You don’t get that many games like this in your career where it’s a packed house and people cheering for all the shots. It was something I will remember.”

It was a back-and-forth first half with the teams trading singles in one and two followed by deuces in three and four.

Jones was forced to another single in the fifth but her last rock in the sixth rubbed on the guard, allowing Hasselborg to knock it out of the park and count three to finally grab the lead 6-4.

You can never count out Jones, though, and her last rock in the seventh curled around a guard to tap back Hasselborg’s counter for the equalizing deuce.

Still, Jones needed to steal the victory and Hasselborg cleaned up the house with a double takeout on her first skip stone. Jones made the hit with her final rock in the Grand Slam of Curling, and Hasselborg was able to take it out and stick for the winning point.

It was a big day for Hasselborg, who also defeated Team Stefania Constantini 5-4 during the morning draw to get back on track as her team heads to playoffs with a 3-2 record.

“We’ve been playing better and better and this day was definitely our best day,” Hasselborg said. “Playing good and looking forward to being in the playoffs.”

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