- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 19, 2014

SOCHI, Russia (AP) - In the summer of 2012, when she was pregnant with her first child and recovering from surgery to repair knee ligament damage, the chances of Jennifer Jones winning gold at the Sochi Olympics seemed remote.

On Thursday, it will be a major surprise if that once-unlikely prospect doesn’t turn into reality.

Jones will be skip for Canada in the women’s Olympic final against Sweden at the Ice Cube Curling Center in a repeat of the 2010 gold-medal match in Vancouver.

On that occasion, the Swedes relied on a meltdown from Cheryl Bernard first in the 10th end and then in an extra end to win a second straight gold. They shouldn’t bet on Jones making the same mistakes.

The 39-year-old Jones has been in unforgiving mood in Sochi, guiding the Canadians to nine straight wins in the round robin - an Olympic record - and then a 6-4 victory over world champion Britain in the semifinals.

“We’ve played so consistent for the last year and a half,” Jones said. “Since I came back from having a baby we have just been on a roll.

“It’s crazy. We have worked so hard and to have it all come true and be in that gold-medal game, the game you have dreamed of for your entire life, it’s pretty exciting.”

An Olympic gold medal would cap a career that already has seen Jones win the world championship - in 2008 - and four Canadian titles. She has been Canada’s top female curler for the past decade.

Her rival skip, Margaretha Sigfridsson has never won a global title and has lost in four world finals - two as a skip. Her biggest win was in the European final last year.

Jones beat Sigfridsson 9-3 in the round robin in just eight ends.

“She plays aggressively and when she plays well, it’s definitely hard to stop her,” Sigfridsson said, “but if you place your stones in the right places and put some pressure on the whole team, you definitely have a chance.”

Sweden won the last two Olympic titles under skip Anette Norberg, who will commentate on the match for Swedish TV on Thursday. The Swedes beat Switzerland in their semifinal.

Canada’s women have won a medal at every Olympics since curling returned to the program in 1998. But it was in ‘98 that it last captured gold.

For a curling-mad country like Canada, 16 years simply is too long to wait.

Britain will play Switzerland for the bronze medal before the final.

The men’s final between Canada and Britain is on Friday.

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