After a terrific pair of women’s tiebreakers, ending with one of the great sport reaction images of all time, Saturday Canadian Olympic Trials semifinals were a colossal flop.
Brad Jacobs started it off with a shellacking of Team Kevin Koe. It was fierce and unrelenting, and the Koe gang was permitted to concede after only six ends given the tiebreaker action also taking place.
Broadcaster TSN was already shifting focus to the that tiebreaker, which went to an extra-end and provided those great sport reaction images.
The evening ended when Krista McCarville couldn’t keep the magic going against the veteran Jennifer Jones. That semifinal ended 8-3 and event organizers will be hoping for some close battles today.
It’s championship Sunday at the eighth Canadian Olympic Trials, with the honor of representing Canada at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing at stake, and it starts with Jones versus Tracy Fleury at 12:00 p.m. ET.
The all-Winnipeg battle features a skip from Northern Ontario leading a squad that used to be skipped by Kerri Einarson. Fleury—née Horgan, from Sudbury—captained the only team to go undefeated during the week in Saskatoon, and they enjoyed a full Saturday off. Only twice in Trials history—both times on the women’s side—has a semifinalist squad managed to triumph in the championship final.
Fleury and Co. have also enjoyed a fall season to remember. They’ve been a class above every field they’ve contested.
Naturally, it’s not smart to discount Jennifer Jones.
They’ve got four Olympic gold medals on this squad—two owned by third Kaitlyn Lawes—and alternate Lisa Weagle is no slouch with a few Canadian women’s titles from her Team Homan past. In contrast, the Fleury four have yet to win The Big One, and this is women’s finale us most definitely that.
Jones is riding a wave in Saskatoon, but Fleury has been riding one since September. Alternate Chelsea Carey, who has been a part of the squad since last February, seems to be adding some intangible benefits.
This could go either way, and we’re here for it.
On Sunday evening, Team Gushue of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, battles Team Jacobs of Sault Ste Marie, Ont. in a battle of curling heavyweights. It’s a game that sees the top-ranked team in the world face the third-ranked global team.
Both teams are evenly matched and accomplished, with six Olympic champions in their lineups.
The Gushue gang has been one of the world’s best teams in this Olympic cycle, winning two Briers, both a gold and a silver at the world championships and three Grand Slam titles. They’ve also been fairly dominant this season having suffered only two losses, including one to Jacobs. They won the last Slam contested before the Trials, which further attracted the oddsmakers.
The cycle has been more of a roller coaster for Team Jacobs. There was a lineup change in the second year of the quadrennial that saw former Kevin player (Martin and Koe) Marc Kennedy step in at third. The team won three Slams in their first season together, but it has been more of a grind recently including in their last two Brier appearances.
Team Jacobs has had a solid start to this 2021-22 season, reaching the final in three of four events heading into the Trials.
Jacobs holds a 6-5 lead in games between the two teams with their current lineups, and as stated they are 1-1 head to head this season.
They both finished the round robin at 7-1. Given the tie at the top of the standings, Gushue advanced directly to the final on the strength of his exciting draw eight victory over Jacobs that went to an extra-end.
There is not much to separate these two teams either. Both skips have proven they can be patient, their teams have the ability to apply pressure on the opponent and both have thirds that can make any shot required.
Regardless of who wins the men’s final, Canada will be represented at the Olympics by a team on form, and hungry. As for predictions, I have two of them. The skip representing Canada at the Olympics in Beijing will be named Brad … and he’ll be making his second Olympic appearance.