Jones locks up playoff spot

Jennifer Jones can hardly be blamed for feeling like she has a target on her back.

Jennifer Jones beat Italy 8-5 to secure a spot in the Page playoff.

Jennifer Jones beat Italy 8-5 to secure a spot in the Page playoff.

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — Jennifer Jones can hardly be blamed for feeling like she has a target on her back.

The Winnipeg skip was given all she could handle in Draw 15 action at the world women’s curling championship Thursday, pulling out an 8-5 win over Italy’s Diana Gaspari. The victory moves the Canadians (8-2) into the Page playoffs, as they can finish no worse than third in the round-robin.

Jones, third Cathy Overton-Clapham, second Jill Officer and lead Dawn Askin needed to produce one of their strongest games of the tournament against Gaspari (1-9), who hung around for seven ends before fading down the stretch.

“Every team’s been playing their best game of the week against us,” said Jones, who curled at a scorching 96 per cent. “Italy played well. We had them in a little bit of trouble, but both teams played well.”

China’s Bingyu Wang (9-1) is likely headed for the 1-2 Page playoff game after edging Sweden’s Anette Norberg 8-7.

Wang’s final round-robin game goes later Thursday against Norway’s Marianne Rorvik (1-8).

Denmark is third in the standings at 7-2, with Norberg at 6-4 and Switzerland’s Mirjam Ott at 5-4. Jones faces Ott in her final round-robin game Thursday night.

Jones opened the Italy game with a draw for two, but had her final shot of the second end hit debris on the ice and come up well short of the house. Gaspari followed with an open hit for three, and Italy seized the lead.

Jones settled for a single point in the third but surged back ahead after Gaspari came up short of the rings on her final shot of the fourth, giving up a steal of two.

Italy scored a single in the fifth and stole one point in the seventh when Jones was off by a hair on her final-shot draw for a piece of the button.

Canada went back ahead for good in the eighth after Gaspari narrowly missed a double-takeout, leaving Jones an easy draw for two.

The win — and how it was achieved — was especially important to Jones after struggling in both games Wednesday, squeaking out a win over South Korea before squandering a late lead in a loss to Denmark.

“We had to come out and win this game,” said Jones. “I was quite disappointed with that game last night. But we bounced back, and we’re still in there. You just have to make the playoffs.”

Scotland’s Eve Muirhead (5-5) remained alive by the slimmest of margins with a critical 7-6 win over Deb McCormick of the U.S. (4-6).

Muirhead took the lead with a single point in the seventh, and added steals in the eighth and ninth to fend off the Americans.

The other Draw 15 game saw Russia’s Margarita Fomina (5-5) hold on for a wild 10-8 win over Mi-Yeon Kim of South Korea (3-7).

Russia led 9-3 after seven ends, but Kim scored three in the eighth and stole two more in the ninth to close to within one.

Fomina needed to play a soft angle raise with her final stone in the 10th, and she made it by about an inch. to secure the win.