Lovin’ the Games in Korea

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Are you as happy as we are in the Outlook newsroom with the way the PyeongChang Olympics are progressing?

Not only has Canmore’s John Morris struck gold in the debut of mixed double curling, he joins partner Kaitlyn Lawes as the only two Canadians with a pair of curling gold. Lawes, in fact, is also the first Canadian to win back-to-back gold medals, as she did so in team curling as third with Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones rink in Sochi. Morris nailed down his first gold playing third with Kevin Martin in 2010.

We’re happy with the mixed doubles gold, we’re pretty sure most Canadians (curling fans and others) are happy with the gold and, despite National Post columnist Steve Simmons’ assertion that mixed doubles curling is a sham, we feel the sport will see major growth in the future.

As with the regular team game of curling, interest in the game around the world may best have been described as lukewarm, a sport for countries in northern climes where citizen need to while away winter hours.

However, once curling became an Olympic medal sport, interest was everywhere, spawning growth of the game in otherwise non-traditional regions such as China, Korea, Italy, Russia, Australia, etc.

Nothing, it seems, creates interest in a sport like including it in the Olympics – hence beach volleyball in landlocked northern hemisphere countries, moguls, snowboard events, etc.

Yes, mixed curling is new, with rules and manner of play unlike the traditional game, but, whereas Simmons asserts Lawes and Morris are new to the game, with just a half hour of practice before dominating the Olympic event, we’d point out that the two are past world junior champions, Tournament of Hearts and Brier champions, world champions and Olympic champions.

Between them they’ve poured years of blood, sweat and tears into the game. Morris works part-time as a firefighter to allow for curling training and competition and has been a proponent of the sport as one which is fast and furious, athletic and which will catch on in Canada, a latecomer to the game.

Perhaps in keeping with traditional Olympics, Simmons would prefer a return to ancient times when the Games were only for the Hellenic world, males only, who competed in the nude in sports generally associated with battle.

Curling, let alone cross-country skiing, biathlon and half-pipe events likely had little following centuries ago.

We’re also pleased to see that, as of Wednesday (Feb. 14), Canada was fourth in the medal count, with gold in curling, freestyle skiing and team figure skating (apparently another sham sport).

Our valley’s cross-country, alpine and biathlon athletes are proudly representing their home communities. The medals haven’t come yet, but there have been plenty of inspirational performances.

When Rosanna Crawford moved up 34 spots in the women’s pursuit race, it represented one of the biggest jumps ever seen in the sport – that bodes well for future events. Julia Ransom is shooting the lights out in the tough conditions, and Len Valjas rewrote Canadian record books in the classic sprint, when he shattered the nation’s previous best result in the discipline, which was set by Canmore’s Stefan Kuhn in 2010. These are performances to be proud of, and symbolic of the hard work and talent from local Olympic stars.

Week one was one of the best in Canadian history. We can’t wait for week two.

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Rocky Mountain Outlook