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Defending Olympic champion Jennifer Jones opens Canada Cup with two wins

Team Jones skip Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg, looks down the ice during her draw 1 victory over Kelsey Rocque of Edmonton at the Canada Cup of curling in Brandon, Man., Wednesday, Nov.30, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Michael Burns MANDATORY CREDIT

Team Jones skip Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg, looks down the ice during her draw 1 victory over Kelsey Rocque of Edmonton at the Canada Cup of curling in Brandon, Man., Wednesday, Nov.30, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Michael Burns MANDATORY CREDIT

BRANDON, Man. — Jennifer Jones and her Winnipeg team is off to a quick start at the Canada Cup after posting a pair of wins on the curling tournament's opening day.

The defending Olympic champion took the early lead atop the women's standings Wednesday after opening with a 9-4 win over Edmonton's Kelsey Rocque and following with a 6-4 victory over Tracy Fleury of Sudbury, Ont.

Winnipeg's Kerri Einarson joined Jones at the top of the standings with an 8-5 win over defending champion Rachel Homan of Ottawa in the evening draw. Einarson began the day by holding off Edmonton's Val Sweeting 8-5.

Jones is no stranger to Brandon's Keystone Centre, making the first of her 12 Scotties Tournament of Hearts appearances at the arena in 2002.

"It is incredibly special. It was surreal walking in," said Jones. "I remember walking to the arena and thinking this is the biggest rink I've ever been in and I couldn't believe we got to play in it. It's pretty cool to be back in Brandon where it all began in front of a hometown crowd.

"We're really happy. Obviously to come out with two wins is pretty big. It's a short round robin against really tough teams. I thought we played well, I thought we could play better."

Jones — supported by third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jill Officer, lead Dawn McEwen, and coach Wendy Morgan — jumped out to a 4-0 lead over Rocque after a pair of deuces. Rocque halved the lead in the third end but the veteran skip answered with two more points in the fourth and was never threatened the rest of the way.

In the afternoon draw, Jones started with a single in the first and a steal of two in the second en route to the win over Fleury.

Homan downed reigning Canadian champion Chelsea Carey of Calgary 6-4 in the first game for both teams. Carey then beat Rocque 11-5 in her second game. Sweeting fell to 0-2 with a 7-6 defeat to Fleury in the late draw.

In men's action, defending Olympic champion Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., fell to 1-1 after losing 8-3 to Brad Gushue's rink from St. John's, N.L.

Mark Nichols is calling the shots for the St. John's rink, with Gushue back home rehabbing his hip and groin injury. 

"We got a couple of breaks in the first end," said Nichols. "We knew they were going to come after us, and after getting the hammer we played a good end. He missed his last one and then I made a good shot for four. So that was kind of it, it wasn't like we were playing great we just capitalized on a couple of mistakes."

Gushue's improved to 2-0 with a 7-6 win over Winnipeg's Reid Carruthers in Draw 3.

Jacobs had opened the day with a 5-4 win over Winnipeg's Mike McEwen.

Defending champion Kevin Koe of Calgary needed to negotiate a tough takeout with his final rock to down Toronto's John Epping 8-5, while Saskatoon's Steve Laycock opened with a 6-5 victory over McEwen. Epping and McEwen fell to 0-2.

Laycock followed his first win with another, beating Koe 9-5 in their evening matchup.

Winners will lock up spots in the Olympic Trials next year in Ottawa.

Jones, Koe and Homan are the only skips who have secured berths in the December 2017 event, which will determine Canada's representatives for the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.