SPORTS

Jennifer Jones beats Val Sweeting to win gold at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

02/22/2015 06:10 EST | Updated 04/24/2015 05:59 EDT
MOOSE JAW, Sask. - It has become a familiar pose for Manitoba skip Jennifer Jones.

Arms stretched high in the air with broom in hand and a huge smile on her face after throwing a winning stone.

She did it a year ago when she won an Olympic title and struck the same pose Sunday at Mosaic Place after beating Alberta's Val Sweeting 6-5 to win gold at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts for the fifth time.

"It's the thrill of a lifetime every single time," Jones said. "It's almost more exciting the older I get, I guess because you never know when it's going to be your last. I'm just so thrilled to do it with my amazing teammates."

The 40-year-old skip hit an open draw with her last throw in the 10th end to cap an exciting back-and-forth game that could have gone either way.

"It was a little close for comfort, but we managed to pull it off in the end," she said.

Sweeting, 27, who lost to Rachel Homan in last year's final, threw at a solid 88 per cent clip but didn't have the hammer when it counted.

"We made it here again and we played better and we lost to a great team," Sweeting said. "They'll represent us really well."

Jones missed the Scotties last year as she led her Winnipeg team of third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jill Officer and lead Dawn McEwen to victory at the Sochi Games. They'll represent Canada again at the March 14-22 world women's curling championship in Sapporo, Japan.

Jones opened with a deuce but Sweeting pulled even with a pair of her own in the second end. After a blank, Jones hit a takeout for one but Sweeting answered again with a single in the fifth.

The teams continued to exchange singles with Sweeting hitting a draw to the four-foot to tie the game at five in the ninth end. Jones had a clear lane for her last stone in the 10th and delivered.

"We made eight great shots in the last end and that's really what won it for us," she said.

Jones won the Scotties for the first time in 2005 and took three straight titles from '08 through '10. It was the first Scotties gold for Lawes in four career appearances.

Sweeting was joined by Edmonton teammates Lori Olson-Johns at third, second Dana Ferguson and lead Rachelle Brown.

Earlier, Homan hit a draw to the four-foot for a 7-5 victory over Saskatchewan's Stefanie Lawton in the third-place game.

The bronze capped a mixed week for the two-time champions. They have been trying to find their groove this season after the departure of coach Earle Morris and the addition of Joanne Courtney, who replaced longtime second Alison Kreviazuk.

"We're building and we're fast-tracking as much as we can," Homan said. "I think we proved this week that we're on the right track. Winning that bronze was really special for us."

Courtney joined Homan, third Emma Miskew and lead Lisa Weagle last spring after a three-year run on Sweeting's rink. Richard Hart, a member of Team Glenn Howard, handled coaching duties over the last week.

The Ottawa team was in form Sunday as Homan threw at 90 per cent and the team came in at 87 per cent.

"That was clearly their best game of the week, hands down," Hart said. "They just trusted the ice, they felt good about the ice. They just went through all their routines and processes perfectly and it showed. The results were amazing."

The partisan crowd of 3,576 tried its best to support Lawton in her quest to win a medal for the first time in four career Scotties appearances. She made a nice draw for one in the eighth end and stole another point in the ninth but couldn't pull even.

"It wasn't the game that we wanted out there," Lawton said. "The girls played hard. I just wish I would have started a little stronger and maybe thrown a few more draws throughout the game."

Lawton and her team of third Sherry Anderson, second Stephanie Schmidt and lead Marliese Kasner combined to shoot 75 per cent overall.

Homan beat Jones for her first Scotties title in 2013 at Kingston, Ont., while Sweeting made her first Scotties final appearance last year in Montreal.

An enthusiastic near-sellout crowd of 3,992 spectators took in the final to bring total attendance for the tournament to 70,047.

Lawes, Officer and McEwen earned tournament first-team all-star honours while Lawton took the nod as skip. Jones was named to the second team along with Olson-Johns, Schmidt and Weagle.

Jones will receive $10,000 to wear cresting at the world championship next month. Both teams in the Scotties final received $15,500, Homan's rink earned $12,000 and Lawton's team earned $7,000.

Jones will also receive additional funding and earned berths in the 2015 Canada Cup, the 2016 Continental Cup and the 2016 Scotties. She also picked up 45 Canadian Team Ranking System points.

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Follow @GregoryStrong on Twitter.

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