A number of Canada’s top Olympic curlers have told me over the years that while winning a gold medal is a glorious feeling, winning the semi-final contest might provide the biggest relief of the Olympics.
Knowing you’re going home with a medal provides some respite from the pressure of a nation, hungry for medals and one that expects nothing less than gold from its curlers.
I’m sure that Jennifer Jones and her team are feeling some of that after knocking off Great Britain’s Eve Muirhead with a clutch draw to the four-foot with the final shot of the game. I’m sure it will also quickly change to the realization that one more win means the top step on the podium.
Jones and her rink of Dawn McEwen, Jill Officer and Kaitlyn Lawes weren’t perfect, but they were sure close to it, holding off a fierce Eve Muirhead rink which fell behind early and never quite managed to get back.
The skip was pure clutch with that last shot, a draw to the four-foot, skillfully guided there by Officer and McEwen.
On the other side of the coin are the semi-final losers. The rink from Great Britain are obviously crushed at the fact that everything they’ve trained for, all the time they’ve spent working is gone as far as a gold medal is concerned.
Now, somehow, some way, they have to regroup and fight for a bronze. To be sure, there is no worse place to finish in the Olympics than fourth.
For Jones, now is the time to get dialed in one more time, to look down the sheet for 10 more ends and realize what’s at stake. Somehow, I don’t think they’ll have any trouble getting up for this one.