A bad break on her final rock derailed Team Canada’s Jennifer Jones yesterday and gave British Columbia’s Kelly Scott the 2006 Scott Tournament of Hearts title.
Scott and her rink of Jeanna Schraeder, Sasha Carter and Renee Simons won the women’s national curling crown with an 8-6 victory in a bizarre game that appeared to be slipping from her grasp in the final end. But the skip from Kelowna made a last-shot takeout — her second attempt at it — to claim the title in London, Ont.
The victory for Scott comes after a heartbreaking loss in the Canadian Olympic curling trials in December, when the 28-year-old accounting assistant coughed up a two-point lead in the final end to eventual Turin bronze medalist Shannon Kleibrink.
“I guess that old saying ‘you have to lose before you learn how to win,’ I think you’re witnessing it right here,” Scott told the CBC moments after accepting the championship trophy.
For a while, it appeared Scott hadn’t learned that lesson well enough as she roared out to an early lead, but almost gave it up in the final frame.
With the B.C. rink holding a 7-6 lead and last-rock advantage in the 10th end, Scott appeared on her way to the title. But Team Canada, the defending champions, would not go quietly and, with skip’s rocks left to play, had a rock partially guarded on the four foot ring.
On her first stone, Scott chose a questionable strategy of trying to pick out the counter in the house, instead of clearing the guard. Instead, she missed everything.
That gave the advantage to Jones and her Winnipeg foursome, who looked to bury another rock, possibly steal two and get the win.
A year earlier, Jones’s final rock of the Scott tournament was a dramatic takeout to score three and win the title. She was looking for more last-rock dramatics, but this time, the curling gods weren’t so nice.
Moments after the rock left her hand, Jones watched in horror as it picked up some debris and started to slow down, only managing to make it a few feet over the hog line.
Scott, whose emotional state seemed to change from focused to devastated to relieved in about three minutes, had a reprieve and made no mistake the second time, removing the Team Canada stone to score one and seal the victory.
“I thought, ‘Oh, my God, it’s over, the game is done,’ ” she told The Canadian Press. “It was good. It’s a little bit surreal right now to tell you the truth, but it’s pretty wild.”
It was a finish to the contest few expected early on.
Scott got off to a quick start, taking a 5-1 lead after four ends and looking strong.
Jones, 31, closed to two shots behind by scoring two in the fifth end, thanks to a great hit and roll with her first rock and seemed to find her legs as the teams returned from the half-time break, forcing the B.C. team to a single in the sixth.
But the next end, Scott stole another one to move out to a 7-3 lead.
Normally, that would be enough of a cushion to glide to victory. However, Scott went into a defensive shell and that began to fail her as Jones rallied, scoring two in the eighth.
In the ninth end, sitting one behind cover, Jones faced an in-off takeout off a B.C. biter to sit two. It was remarkably similar to her game-winning shot a year earlier, but this time, Jones was unable to complete it, taking only a single.
That set up the finale — a dramatic, but most certainly unusual, conclusion to the championship.
For Jones, the loss came after the team finally seemed to hit its stride.
The reigning champs were inconsistent, but good enough all week. They finished the round robin in third place and made easy work of Eve Belisle of Quebec in the 3-versus-4 Page playoff game. The moved on to the semi-final against another Jones, six-time Canadian champion Colleen and her Nova Scotia team, who had lost the 1-2 Page game to Scott.
In the all-Jones battle, Jennifer defeated Colleen and sent her back to Halifax, where the great squad will take the summer to ponder retirement. The win put the Winnipeg team of Cathy Overton-Clapham, Jill Officer and Georgina Wheatcroft in the final against Scott.
Jones and Scott have some history, not only in head-to-head matches, where they were an even 3-3 over the past two years, but also together. They played on the same team in junior, losing the Canadian final in 1991. Both went on to win junior crowns, Jones in 1994 and Scott a year after that.
Scott’s victorious team gets a bounty of prizes, including the right to return to the next year’s Tournament of Hearts in Lethbridge, Alta., as Team Canada. It also goes on to the world championships in Grande Prairie, Alta., beginning on March 18, and earns a spot in next year’s Canada Cup. And as long as it finishes in the top three at the world championships, the Continental Cup as well.
Home rink: Kelowna Curling Club.
Skip: Kelly Scott, 28; accounting assistant; City of Kelowna
Third: Jeanna Schraeder, 29; program analyst, British Columbia Interior Health
Second: Sasha Carter, 31; marketing manager, Equinox Financial Group
Lead: Rene Simons, 33; mom.
© Copyright 2006 Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.