By Charlie Pinkerton
On home soil (and snow) in the 2010 Winter Games, Canadian Olympians provided the nation’s faithful with countless storybook moments.
There was mogul-skier Alexandre Bilodeau who sent the crowd into a frenzy after finishing in first for Canada’s first gold medal of the Games; and Sidney Crosby’s golden goal in overtime, lifting Canada to victory over the Americans in hockey; and Kevin Martin releasing the final stone as a raucous home crowd sung the final notes of O Canada, clinching men’s curling gold.
Representing Canada in Pyeongchang is a group wiped of most but not all of the heroes from those Games.
After failing to qualify for the Sochi Olympics, John Morris will be returning to Canada’s Olympic team. He won gold with Canada’s curling team in 2010. He said the moment of Martin’s final stone accompanied by a chorus of the national anthem is one he’ll never forget.
“It took four years of hard work and it finally all came together and it was just excitement and relief and a lot of joy,” Morris said.
“It was just an experience I’ll never have again,” he added.
Morris’ second trip to the Games will be much different than his time is Vancouver based off the fact alone that he’ll be competing in a different event.
Morris is partnering with Kaitlyn Lawes in mixed doubles curling. It’s Lawes’ second trip to the Winter Games also. She won gold as the third for the Jennifer Jones’ skipped team at the 2014 Sochi Games.
This year is the first time that mixed doubles curling is included in the Olympics. The event is similar to traditional curling with a few exceptions. Mixed-gender teams of two play eight ends. Before each end, two stones are placed on the centre line with one stone starting in the house and the other as a guard. The team whose stone starts in the house plays the last stone of the end. Both teammates throw stones in each end and sweep after every throw.
“It takes an all-around game, so you can’t just be a good sweeper or a good strategist – you have to have every shot in your arsenal and every skill in your game,” Morris said.
He picked up this version of the sport about 10 years ago and has played it more consistently over the last 3-4 years.
“I’ve really enjoyed it and its one of my favourite sports to play,” Morris said, adding that his training for mixed curling slightly differs from that of men’s curling.
“For myself as a skip, I don’t sweep a lot in team curling but in mixed doubles I sweep a tone so I definitely had to do a lot more interval training and circuit training and I really wanted to make sure I got my cardiovascular level up and my recovery time reduced to as minimal as I could.”
And though this time he won’t have the backing of the home crowd, the former Ottawa Curling Club member is looking forward to the “away” aspect of his pursuit for his second Olympic gold medal.
“As much as I loved Vancouver and having that support, not having so much attention on me in Korea might be a good thing,” Morris indicated. “It’ll just be really cool to see the difference.”