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Jones has a lot of work ahead

If Jennifer Jones is going to retain her world curling title, she’ll have to do it the hard way.
Women's World Curling 20090326
Team Canada lead Dawn Askin (left)

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — If Jennifer Jones is going to retain her world curling title, she’ll have to do it the hard way.

Jones finished the round robin with a pair of wins at the women’s world championship Thursday, defeating Italy 8-5 in Draw 15 and ending the day with a 10-7 win over Switzerland’s Mirjam Ott.

The Winnipeg skip will play in the 3-versus-4 Page playoff game after finishing with a record of 9-2 — tied with Denmark’s Angelina Jensen, who finished second by virtue of her round-robin victory over Jones.

China’s Bingyu Wang (10-1) secured top spot in the round robin for the second straight year with a 7-2 win over Norway’s Marianne Rorvik (1-10). Wang opened the tournament with an 11-6 loss to Jones, then reeled off 10 straight victories — several of them blowouts — to reach today’s 1-versus-2 Page playoff matchup with Denmark.

The path to the world title will be a rough one for Jones, who will face Sweden’s Anette Norberg on Saturday. Norberg (7-4) beat Jones 7-4 in their Draw 11 meeting, handing the Canadian her first loss of the tournament.

“Obviously they’re just an amazing team,” said Jones. “They’ve had great success. We’re going to have to go out and play well. We had a tough loss against them in the round robin, so we know we’re going to have to play good from start to finish, and hopefully we’ll have the hammer coming home.”

A win would pit Jones against the loser of the China-Denmark tilt in Saturday’s semifinal (TSN, 4 a.m.), with the winner advancing to Sunday’s final (TSN, midnight).

Denmark handed Jones her only other round-robin loss, a 7-5 decision in a game Canada led 5-3 after eight ends. And China is no slouch, either — Wang beat Jones twice in last year’s tournament before ultimately falling in the championship match.

Against Ott, Jones was cruising with a 6-1 lead through four ends, but gave up two points in the fifth and another three in the seventh as the Swiss skip trimmed the lead to 7-6. The teams traded singles over the next two ends, and Ott (6-5) put Jones in a tough spot in the 10th, sitting two stones on the button.

Jones ran one of her own rocks into the Swiss pair with her final shot, and spun them far enough away to lie the game-winning point.

“We came out and played really well at the beginning of that game, and then we kind of faltered a little, but we knew the game really didn’t matter at that point,” said Jones, who had clinched third place before her game ended. “We’re pretty happy with how we played that game, and hopefully we’ll take some momentum into the playoffs.”

Wang took control against Norway with three points in the fourth, and steals of one point in each of the next three ends. Her rink, which spends the majority of its training time in Canada, earned an 8-5 win over Denmark in their round-robin meeting Monday.

Denmark locked up second place with a 9-3 rout of American Deb McCormick (4-7). The Danes broke out in front with a three-point third end, and quashed any hopes of a U.S. rally with two points in the seventh and a steal of three in the eighth.