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Jennifer Jones, Brent Laing win 1st Canadian mixed doubles curling title

Jennifer Jones didn’t talk about her clutch deuce, the $40,000 winner’s cheque or a trip next month to the world mixed doubles curling championship in Gangneung, South Korea.

Instead, moments after she and husband Brent Laing acquired the Canadian mixed doubles curling championship at Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex, Jones was thrilled to give her partner a hug “right after the game instead of waiting those five minutes to get down to the ice through the crowd.”

Like her Horseshoe Valley, Ont., team’s strategy and details in the final versus Jocelyn Peterman and Brent Gallant of Chestermere, Alta., it was the little things that mattered most.

“We are getting towards the tail end of our careers, so it’s going to be a special memory that we’ll cherish forever, to be Team Canada together, to share these moments together,” said Jones, a six-time Scotties Tournament of Hearts winner to go along her two world championships, her 2014 Olympic gold medal and a Canadian junior championship. “Even winning this felt great.”

With a combined 12 Canadian curling championships, seven world titles and an Olympic gold medal between them, it’s difficult to believe that something was missing from the trophy cabinet at the household of Jones and Laing.

But Sunday before a thoroughly packed house in Sudbury, Jones and Laing capped a masterful performance at the 2023 Canadian mixed doubles curling championship to add yet another national gold medal, and their first as teammates.

It was a nail-biter to the end, with the teams tied 4-4 heading into the eighth and Jones-Laing holding the hammer. After Peterman half-buried her final shot behind a corner guard, Jones was able to play a hack-weight tap to remove the shot rock and score five for the victory, and celebrated as the cheers of the crowd rained down on them.

The teams scored nothing but single points for five ends — the fifth being a steal for Peterman and Gallant.

But in the sixth, the door opened for Jones to make an open hit with a small roll to score the game’s first (and ultimately game-changing) deuce.

“It was disappointing to give up the steal [in the fifth] because I missed my first shot that end and it got us in a bit of trouble,” said Jones. “But we said before the fifth end whoever gets the first deuce is likely going to win, and we managed to get the first deuce.

“It was a really good game; the score wasn’t indicative of the amount of rocks in play, that’s for sure.”

“I know if [Jones] has a shot for two, we’re probably going to get two,” added Laing. “It was a well-played game; Brett and Jocelyn didn’t miss for a while, and in the second half it was kind of back and forth. It was a fun game to play.”

Jones and Laing collected $40,000 for their victory, while Peterman and Gallant earned $20,000.

Jones and Laing reached the final with a 6-5 semifinal victory Sunday morning over Rachel Homan of Beaumont, Alta., and Tyler Tardi of Peachland, B.C., while Peterman and Gallant were 7-6 winners over Brittany Tran of Calgary and Aaron Sluchinski of Airdrie, Alta. The semifinal losers each pocketed $12,500.

Jones and Laing will now start planning their return trips to the Gangneung Curling Centre — a building both have played in. Jones skipped Team Canada to a fourth-place finish at the 2009 World Women’s Curling Championship there, while Laing was a member of Kevin Koe’s Canadian Olympic men’s team that finished fourth at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Canada’s national mixed doubles coach Scott Pfeifer was the alternate for Team Koe in 2018.

“It’ll be great to go back there,” added Jones. “At the end of the day we just want to go and play well and have fun. I can tell everybody in Canada that we’re never going to quit and we’re going to try our very hardest to stand on that podium.”

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