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Canmore curler John Morris focused on defending Olympic mixed doubles crown

"I still have a chance to make it to the Olympics and I'll be giving it everything I got to wear the Maple Leaf for mixed doubles."

CANMORE – Gold medallist John Morris has one more shot at qualifying for Beijing.

After his team was defeated at the men's trials last weekend, the Canmore curler is shifting focus to defending the Olympic mixed doubles crown.

"I still have a chance to make it to the Olympics and I'll be giving it everything I got to wear the Maple Leaf for mixed doubles," said Morris, who won gold with Kaitlyn Lawes in mixed doubles' Olympic debut in 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea.

This time around trials will look much different for Morris, who's teaming with 2017 world champion Rachel Homan to take on 15 other Olympic-hungry duos looking to knock off the champ at Canada’s 2022 mixed doubles trials are from Dec. 28 to Jan. 2 in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.

Lawes, a member of Canada's Beijing qualifying women's team of Jennifer Jones, is ineligible to participate in the mixed doubles trials with teammate and nephew Connor Lawes.

Oddly enough, it was four years ago when skip Homan qualified for the Games with her four-women team, which forced a change and the gold medal team of Morris and Lawes was formed.

Throughout the pandemic, Homan and Morris haven't gotten in the most practice and play, however, the chemistry is undeniable as they've won back-to-back Qualico Mixed Doubles Classic titles in Banff and Canmore the past two years.

"We're going to get a training camp in [this December]," said Morris. "We're kind of taking a week or two to defuse from trials because they are such an intense event and really mentally draining, so I just want to have some time off to recover and defuse and then get refocused on mixed doubles trials."

Playing second for Calgary's Team Kevin Koe from Nov. 20-28 in Saskatoon, Morris and the four-man team were eliminated in Sunday's (Nov. 28) semifinals of the men's trials by Team Brad Jacobs, 8-3, in a stunning performance.

In highlight reel fashion, Jacobs made the team of Koe, Morris, B.J. Neufeld and Ben Hebert pay dearly with two four-point ends. The Calgary team conceded after six ends.

"I would say [we] accidentally set them up for the kind of shot you don't want to leave Brad Jacobs, which is a high heavyweight take out," said Morris.

"I don't think you can over analyze it or assess it any more than that it's just a couple mistakes that piled up for us and usually don't make, we're a little sharper on, and you can't get away with that with a team like Jacobs."

Simply put: it sucked, said skip Koe.

"It came to a quick thud out there, so you know, it sucks," said Koe in a media scrum after the game. "I thought we definitely were good enough to get it done and I don’t think that score is indicative of how we were playing. But against any team, especially one like them playing so well, you can’t miss a few shots in one end, especially when you don’t have hammer and that's kind of what cost us."

Team Koe went 6-2 in round robin play, only losing to Jacobs and the trials winner Team Brad Gushue, which will represent Canada's men in Beijing from Feb. 4-20.

Morris said Team Koe expects to compete at upcoming Grand Slams and the 2022 Brier in March for a chance to compete at the World Championships.

"We had a great event and we were real close and I would say [we were] a couple shots here and a couple shots there away from representing Canada at the Olympics," said Morris. "But Jacobs played pretty much a flawless game against us in the semifinal and then it was a really good final game and Brad Gushue ended up winning. I think he'll be a wonderful representative for Canada and I think it gives us a great chance to win another medal in curling, that's for sure."

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

An award-winning reporter, Jordan Small has covered sports, the arts, and news in the Bow Valley since 2014. Originally from Barrie, Ont., Jordan has lived in Alberta since 2013.
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