GANGNEUNG, South Korea — Before leaving for the world women’s curling championship, Jennifer Jones declared the field one of the deepest in history.
Jones discovered the hard way that she was right.
The 34-year-old Winnipeg skip failed to reach the podium, losing a 7-6 heartbreaker to Denmark’s Angelina Jensen in Sunday’s bronze-medal game. China became the first Asian team to win the event when Bingyu Wang defeated Olympic champion Anette Norberg of Sweden 8-6 for the gold.
The third-place Danes go home with just their second medal in the last eight years, while the Jones foursome returns to Canada with the feeling they let the tournament slip away.
“We knew the field was going to be really tough,” said a dejected Jones, who came in as defending champion. “I thought we played really well. I thought it was the combination of about a handful of ends that gave us a few losses here or there.”
Canada played well, for the most part — the team finished the round-robin 9-2 before dropping its only two playoff games. Yet, while Jones, third Cathy Overton-Clapham, second Jill Officer and lead Dawn Askin showed flashes of their world championship form, they consistently struggled to adjust to changing ice conditions late in games — and wound up losing because of it.
Jones was particularly guilty of that.
In her round-robin game against Sweden, Jones was heavy on a draw with her final shot of the eighth end, giving up the deciding steal of two in a 7-4 loss. She followed with back-to-back bad ends against Denmark, the second resulting in the game-winning steal for Jensen in a 7-5 victory.
Her worst gaffe came in the Page playoff against Norberg, when she rubbed on a stone in front of the rings with her final shot of the ninth end to give Sweden a steal of two. Norberg went on to win 5-4 in 11 ends.
Two more Jones mistakes took Canada out of the bronze-medal game.
After wrecking on a guard to give Denmark an open draw for three in the fifth end, Jones was off by a fraction on the line call in the 10th, and her rock didn’t co-operate, straightening out just enough to leave the Danes with the winning stone on the button.
A hint of frustration tinged Jones’s assessment of the team’s performance.
“Honestly, you can count up six bad ends we had, and that cost us the championship, really,” said Jones, a three-time Canadian champion.