Decorated Canadian curler Jennifer Jones to retire from women’s team curling

Jennifer Jones will leave women’s curling still loving it, but she’s ready for change in her life.

The 49-year-old who won an Olympic gold medal, two world championships and six Canadian women’s titles as a skip announced Tuesday she’ll retire from team curling at the end of this season, although she’ll continue to play mixed doubles with husband Brent Laing.

The decision to step away from team curling was difficult for the decorated Canadian curler from Winnipeg.

“It’s making me a little bit emotional,” Jones said. “It’s been a massive part of my love and my life forever and I’m going to miss it. Curling changed me. It helped me become the woman that I am and I’ve never lost that gratitude.

“I’m also really excited about what the potential next steps will be and have that next chapter in my life, which is starting later than I ever thought it would. I wasn’t ready for it to start and now I’m ready.”

Her six Canadian women’s championships won between 20015 and 2018 ties Jennifer Jones with former Nova Scotia skip Colleen Jones for the most.

But if Jennifer Jones wins a record seventh Scotties Tournament of Hearts, and thus the right to return in 2025 as defending champion, she insists her 18th appearance at the national women’s championship starting Friday in Calgary will be her last.

“This is my last one,” she said. “I want to soak it up. I want to smell the ice like I’ve never smelled it. I want to enjoy the moment. I know when it’s over I’ll be a bit sad. I’ll be happy, but I’m going to be a bit sad because I just love it so much.”

The elite level of curling Jones pursued in both women’s team and mixed doubles meant travelling to events almost every week from September to April.

Daughters Isla, 11, and Skyla, 7, are the primary reason for Jones’s decision to drop one curling discipline. Many bedtime stories have been told virtually.

“I’m super-present in their life so I don’t want it to come across that I’m not, but I just want to be more physically present instead of practising spelling words over FaceTime because I schedule it when I’m on the road,” Jones said.

“I just want to be there for every day moments. Those kind of those small things became more important to me than the smell of the ice.”

Jones, Kaitlyn Lawes, Jill Officer and Dawn McEwen went undefeated at 11-0 to win an Olympic gold medal in Sochi, Russia, in 2014. That foursome also won a world title in 2018 in North Bay, Ont. 

Jones won her first in 2008 in Vernon, B.C., with the front end of Officer and McEwen and Cathy-Overton Clapham as her vice. 

Jones’s walk-off deflection off an Ontario stone well outside the rings for a takeout on the button to win her first Hearts in 2005 is still in heavy rotation on curling highlight reels.

“They always say ‘you want the ball.’ I always wanted that opportunity. A shot to win. Make it or miss it, the adrenalin’s flowing. I’ll never forget how my heart felt,” she said. “I’ll never forget the moment when the crowd went quiet and then they went crazy.”

After Jones, Lawes, Jocelyn Peterman and McEwen finished fifth in the 2022 Olympic Games in Bejing, Jones took over a young team of women under the age of 25.

Jones reached the final of the 2023 Tournament of Hearts in Kamloops, B.C., and lost to Kerri Einarson. Jones, Karlee Burgess, Emily Zacharias and Lauren Lenentine return as a Manitoba wild-card team in Calgary.

“I just want to go out there and show everybody what we can do because they’re fabulous,” Jones said. “I want to play our hearts out and see where it takes us.”

She’s not done with elite curling. After winning the Canadian mixed doubles championship and placing fourth in last year’s world championships, Jones and Laing, who live in Horseshoe Valley, Ont., will compete in the this year’s national championship March 17-22 in Fredericton. 

Jones will also coach Isla in the Ontario’s elementary school provincials in March.

“I’m pretty proud of the longevity, but we were part of the evolution of women’s curling,” Jones said. 

“To see that women could shine on the world stage and on television and how much more air time we have, and as a mom of two daughters, to see that we have these role models now for our young up-and-coming athletes, and to be a part of that, to have any small impact on the next generation, that is the biggest compliment anybody could ever give me.”

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