Four years ago, I got to sit in Vancouver and watch every shot of every draw in the Olympics. One of my seat-mates for that stretch was Jennifer Jones, who at the time was working for Yahoo!
But it was clear that she was burning to be down on the ice rather than up with the media; she wanted to play rather than watch, wanted desperately to be an Olympian and it was obviously eating her up sitting.
I’m not sure if it was at that point or perhaps a time much, much earlier, that she decided she was going to win gold but since then, everything she has done has been about this moment, the time when she got to stand on the top step of the Olympic podium, a gold placed medal placed around her neck.
When she and her teammates Jill Officer and Dawn McEwen cut Cathy Overton-Clapham – despite the fact they were world champions – it was because they believed they would have a better chance to win a gold medal with Kaitlyn Lawes. Despite the fact she became Public Enemy No. 1 and was nearly booed off the ice at the Scotties in Charlottetown for the move, it was about this moment.
When her knee blew out and she had to spend a long, grueling time in rehab and rebuilding the leg, it was about this moment.
For the team, all the planning, all the practicing, all the travel, all the money spent, all the time away from family – including new babies – was about this moment.
Much of the success for Jones can also be attributed to that baby, Isabella, who arrived on the scene a year and a half ago, and her new world with partner Brent Laing. The stability, the purpose and the understanding of her life away from the game easily led to improvements when she was playing.
Today, in the final game, Jones proved once again that she may be the best woman to ever play the game.
When Lawes stumbled badly through much of the game, it was key shots from Jones that held the team together.
Time and again, Jones threw perfectly to avoid disaster or set up a big end. It wasn’t just in final – although that’s where she truly shined – but all week, every game.
In fact, it’s easy to say that Jones is probably the greatest big-shot, clutch-shooting curler the game has seen. She eats pressure for lunch and looks forward to having to throw a shot to decide the game.
I think there are a lot of people right across Canada now shedding a tear of joy for Jones and the rest of the team. They’ve earned this. Jones has earned this. Now she’s a gold medal champion and that’s a heck of a lot better than sitting on a media bench.