Morris’s sole focus is mixed doubles
Two-time Olympic gold medallist John Morris is pretty much done with men’s curling.
Morris is concentrating solely on mixed doubles this year and doesn’t expect to go back to the traditional four-player game any time soon.
“Going forward, I’d say I would be quite surprised if I play men’s again,” Morris said.
“I might spare the odd time here and there and I think I’m still going to be involved in some aspect, whether it be coaching or high-performance training, but at this stage in my career and in this stage of my life, to be on the road for that long and to not be at the very top, like we were with Kevin Martin, I can’t see doing that.”
Morris, 39, won gold with Kaitlyn Lawes in the inaugural mixed doubles competition at the Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea last February. That came eight years after he won a gold medal in men’s curling as the third for Martin at the Vancouver Olympics.
Not long after the Olympics, Morris became a father to a baby boy named Jack.
He saw concentrating on mixed doubles as a perfect opportunity to cut down on his time on the road, spend plenty of time at home helping his wife Maggie, and still keep curling at a high level.
“It’s been a grind for the last 20 years, playing on tour,” Morris said. “As much fun as it’s been and as great of an opportunity as it has been, you sacrifice a lot when you are away from home for so long.”
The plan is for Morris and Lawes to play together for the next two years and see where it takes them. After that, they’ll decide if they want to take another run at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing.
The only catch is Lawes is also committed to playing third for the Jennifer Jones rink, a team that won the world women’s championship earlier this year.
As a result, Morris and Lawes might play together in only a few events this year, but he has a few spares lined up for the other events. He plans to play seven in total, including the World Cup in Omaha, Neb., in early December. For that event, he will play with Edmonton’s Taylor McDonald.
“It’s hard to make a four-year plan when Kaitlyn’s tied to probably the best women’s team in the world,” Morris said. “They have a great thing going there and she’s very busy with that. We want to keep giving it a go with mixed doubles so we’re playing together when we can.”
Morris, who also plans to play with Jolene Campbell of Swift Current, Sask., this season, says mixed doubles is growing in Canada and around the world.
“We’re so deep-rooted in traditional curling in Canada here, but we have to look at the stats and the stats are showing that there’s more and more curling clubs having trouble filling their leagues up. One way to help that out is to come up with creative changes and this mixed doubles game is one of them.”