Olympic mixed doubles team John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes.
CANADIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE PHOTO
Canada clinched top spot in the Olympic mixed doubles curling playoff round with a 7-3 victory over host Korea, Saturday (Feb. 10). Canmore's John Morris and Winnipeg's Kaitlyn Lawes stole their way to victory at the Gangneung Curling Centre, holding the hammer just twice over eight ends. The Olympic playoff semifinal format for the eight-nation event will see Canada (6-1) play the fourth-place team, second and third place teams will play in the other semi. After round-robin play, Switzerland was 5-2 to qualify, OAR was 4-3 and qualified and China and Norway at 4-3 had to play a tiebreaker. Against the wildly popular host Korean team of Hyeji Jang and Kijeong Lee, the Canadians were sharper with their shot making against the youngest pairing in the mixed doubles event. Lee was the 2017 world junior champion. Of note is that Vernon, B.C.'s Jim Cotter, who Morris had campaigned with in an attempt to qualify for the Olympic men's team curling spot, coaches the Korean team. Canadians also coach China, the U.S., and Finland. The first few ends against Korea were close, as Canada stole singles in the first and second ends before Korea scored a pair with the hammer in the third end. In the fourth end, Canada scored a pair to make it 4-2. The close game, said Morris at the mid-game break on TSN, was an example of the Korean team, "having great support out here. They've got a lot of pride and they're giving us a heck of a game." Looking ahead, Morris said he and Lawes will treat the playoffs like any other game in the round-robin. "We'll come out hard and do what we're doing and get some good momentum rolling." Semifinals go Sunday (Feb. 11) at 5 p.m. on TSN and Monday at 4 a.m.