SOLID AS A ROCK
Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris roll to gold in first mixed curling final
Winning the gold in mixed doubles turned out to be no contest at all for Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris, who handily defeated Switzerland for the new sport’s top prize at the Games. See our Olympic coverage on and online at
In the GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA end, it wasn’t even close. It was never close.
Other than in one game, the very first one Canada played in the inaugural mixed doubles curling competition in the Olympics, no one could hold a candle to Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris. The pair put an emphatic claim on the gold medal Tuesday with a 10-3 win over Jenny Perret and Martin Rios of Switzerland.
Canada outscored its opponents 70-33 in their nine games, lost just once — to Norway on Day 1 — and once again showed the country’s utter dominance in curling.
“It feels fantastic,” Morris said after the pair stood on the top of the podium at the Gangneung Curling Centre. “You never know how many times you are going to be able to get to an Olympics and it’s just such a privilege if you can get to one.
“The pressure is always on, whether you are a hockey fan or a curling fan, everybody wants you to bring home the gold, so it just feels so great that we were able to do that.”
Both Lawes and Morris have now won two gold medals. Lawes won with Jennifer Jones at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, while Morris won with Kevin Martin in 2010 in Vancouver.
“It sounds surreal and I don’t know if that’s ever going to sink in,” said Lawes, a 29-year-old from Winnipeg. “The first one hasn’t sunk in yet to be honest. To be able to bring home another gold medal, with John, is an absolute honour.”
Lawes is the first Canadian curler to win medals in back-to-back Olympics, and both players join Kevin Martin as the only Canadians to win two Olympic curling medals. They are the first two to win two gold medals.
Lawes and Morris won Olympic gold in just their 22nd game as a team. They came together in January for the Canadian Olympic curling trials. Lawes was brought in as a replacement player after Morris’s original partner, Rachel Homan, had to bow out as she already qualified for the Olympics in women’s curling.
“I honestly didn’t feel like we were the favourites coming in,” Lawes said. “I’m just so proud of our efforts to be able to compete against the top teams in mixed doubles.”
The fact that Lawes and Morris had to get through such a tough field to win the Canadian curling trials and qualify for the Olympics made them battle-tested for this event and, though they had far less experience in the mixed doubles discipline than the other teams, they were able to impose their will in eight of nine games.
“We just really wanted to come in and go with our instinct here,” said Morris, a 39-year-old firefighter from Canmore, Alta. “The game of mixed doubles, the strategy is offence and that’s why I think it’s such a great sport. Unlike team curling, where you can maybe coast and play really defensive, you’ve got to keep the pressure on here.”
Things went so well for Canada that they didn’t need to throw their last rock in the eighth end once in their final seven games of the tournament.
In the final, the Canadians never gave the Swiss a chance.
They scored two in the first, forced the Swiss to one in the second and blew the game open with four in the third. With Canada already lying four, Rios attempted a raise triple but completely flashed with his last rock. Morris then drew another rock into the fourfoot to lie five.
Perret made a raise double with her last rock, but that left Lawes a chance to make a raise takeout of her own and stick the shooter to score four. She nailed it.
Canada took back the hammer in the fifth end and kept up the pressure, eventually scoring a deuce to make it 8-3, then stole two more points in the sixth, after which the Swiss players shook hands and the celebration was on.
Lawes and Morris hugged and celebrated as Canadian fans in the stands roared their approval. Lawes then went into the stands to celebrate with her partner, Stephan Vigier, before returning for the podium ceremony.
It was a win for Canada and even a bigger win for mixed doubles curling.
“It’s a really fun sport and the Olympics really helps expose new and unique sports to the rest of the world,” Morris said. “If that lets other people try the sport of curling for the first time, I think that’s wonderful.”
The man who was tasked with getting Canada’s mixed doubles Olympic curling program off the ground was feeling an overwhelming sense of pride Tuesday as he watched Lawes and Morris cruise to a gold medal.
“I jumped on Kaitlyn and John’s backs,” said Jeff Stoughton, Curling Canada’s national mixed doubles coach. “They played so well all week.”
Unlike team curling, where you can maybe coast and play really defensive, you’ve got to keep the pressure on here.
Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris get down to business in the mixed doubles gold-medal game against Switzerland at the Olympic Winter Games in Gangneung, South Korea, on Tuesday. The Canadian duo dominated, winning 10-3.