Jennifer Jones

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Jennifer Jones gets redemption with curling world title; U.S. heartbreak

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Jennifer Jones, arguably the most dominant athlete at the Sochi Olympics, insisted after failing to qualify for PyeongChang that her curling team was OK.

She was right.

Jones’ rink went 14-0 at the world championship in Ontario, beating the PyeongChang Olympic champions from Sweden 7-6 in an extra end in Sunday’s final.

That same Canadian quartet became the first women’s curling team go undefeated at an Olympics in Sochi.

Then, in perhaps the toughest Winter Olympic Trials in any sport in any country, they lost in the Roar of the Rings semifinals in December to Team Rachel Homan, which earlier in 2017 became the first to go undefeated at a worlds.

In PyeongChang, Homan’s team shockingly went 4-5, failing to qualify for the medal round. Neither Canadian men’s nor women’s team made the podium in PyeongChang after the nation had earned medals in every men’s, women’s and mixed Olympic event since the sport returned to the Winter Games in 1998.

This world title was even more emotional because it’s the last season this Jones team is playing together. Jill Officer, 42, is leaving.

Team Anna Hasselborg from Sweden nearly became the second women’s rink to claim Olympic and world titles in the same season after another Swede, Anette Norberg, in 2006.

“You’re going to make me cry when I think about it, I’m so proud,” the 28-year-old Hasselborg said. “We started this team 2 1/2 years ago, and now we have a medal at every single event we went to. … The best is yet to come. I’m young, you know.”

The U.S. had quite a tournament. Jamie Sinclair, who led the Olympic Trials final going into the final end but lost to Nina Roth, skipped a team that upset the Olympic silver medalists from South Korea by scoring seven in the ninth end to reach the semifinals.

Sinclair’s team would have brought home the first U.S. women’s medal from an Olympics or worlds since 2006 by winning either of its last two games. It was not to be.

The Americans scored three between the eighth and ninth ends to tie their semifinal with Jones but lost 9-7. In the bronze-medal game, Russia scored a pair in the 10th end to win 6-5.

“Proud of the team for coming this far,” said Sinclair, a 26-year-old at her first worlds. “We’ve come a long way in two years.”

The men’s world championship starts this weekend in Las Vegas. U.S. Olympic champion John Shuster‘s team is not competing as it did not contest the post-Olympic nationals while promoting the sport with off-ice opportunities.

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MORE: U.S. gold-medal curling team misses nationals to promote the sport

Neither Sochi curling gold-medal team will defend Olympic title

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Both Sochi gold-medal curling teams were knocked out of Canada’s Olympic Trials before the finals.

Jennifer Jones‘ team lost a semifinal game 6-3 to world champion Rachel Homan on Saturday in Ottawa, two days after Sochi men’s champ Brad Jacobs was bounced from round-robin play.

“You work really hard for this — it’s four years — so you’re kind of gutted a little bit,” Jones told media in Ottawa. “Once an Olympian, always an Olympian. We’re OK.”

Canada is the world’s deepest curling nation and proved it again at this year’s Roar of the Rings.

Jones, a 43-year-old corporate lawyer, was arguably the most dominant athlete across all sports in Sochi.

She skipped the first women’s rink to go undefeated through an Olympics, winning all 11 matches en route to the Canadian women’s first gold since 2002.

Jones’ shots for the tournament were graded at an 86 percent success rate, seven percentage points better than the next best skip.

The difference between the second-best skip and the ninth-best skip was four percentage points. That gives an indication of Jones’ domination.

Homan’s team now gets a rink skipped by Chelsea Carey that steamrolled through round-robin play 8-0 in Sunday’s final.

The men’s final could feature 2006 Olympic champion skip Brad Gushue (also the 2017 World champion) facing a team led by Kevin Koe, a 2010 and 2016 World champion.

Gushue plays a semifinal later Saturday, while Koe advanced automatically into the final via a 7-1 round-robin record.

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