WINNIPEG, MB - Winnipeg’s Kaitlyn Lawes and teammate John Morris are bringing home an Olympic gold medal after defeating the defending World Champions from Switzerland 10-3 in the first-ever mixed doubles curling event on Tuesday.
The game was indicative of the entire event for the Canadian duo. After losing their first game of the tournament, both Lawes and Morris turned up the heat as they ran the table the rest of the way, outscoring their opponents 70-33 during their nine games en route to gold.
In the gold-medal game, the Canadians and Swiss exchanged a pair of points in the first two ends. In the third Canada took control. With Canada already lying four, a miss from Martin Rios gave Morris a chance to add a fifth Canadian stone to the rings, and the 39-year-old firefighter from Canmore, Alberta made no mistake with a perfect draw to the four-foot. Switzerland’s Jenny Perret made a nice raise double with her last rock, but Lawes made a raise takeout of her own to score four for Canada, giving them a 6-2 lead. After five ends, the Canadians were outshooting the Swiss 92 percent to 63 per cent and held an 8-3 lead.
Switzerland attempted to come back in the sixth end and looked to be setting up to score multiple points, but a tap by Lawes had Canada sitting two. Perret was left with a difficult shot to score and was unable to do so, giving Canada the steal of two and forcing the Swiss to handshakes.
Lawes is the first Canadian curler to win medals in back-to-back Olympics. The 29-year-old won gold at the 2014 Sochi Games in Russia playing third for Jennifer Jones.
Morris took home his second Olympic gold after winning with Kevin Martin’s team in the 2010 Olympic games in Vancouver. The two join Kevin Martin as the only three Canadians with two Olympic curling medals.
It’s an impressive feat for two Canadians, who came together in January for the Canadian Olympic curling trials. Lawes was brought in as a replacement player after Morris’s original partner, Rachel Homan qualified for the Olympics in women’s curling and had to bow out.
Canada came a long way since the announcement three years ago that mixed doubles curling would be an Olympic sport. Curling Canada hired former Canadian and World men’s champion Jeff Stoughton to oversee the program and the Winnipegger delivered, guiding the program to a gold medal.
Lawes will have some time to enjoy the moment before returning to the ice next month. Lawes will join her Team Canada teammates Jennifer Jones, Jill Officer, and Dawn McEwen at the 2018 world women's curling championship in North Bay, Ont., March 17. The Jones rink won the Scotties Tournament of Hearts without Lawes in the lineup earlier this month. Lawes’ spot was filled by 23-year-old Shannon Birchard for the tournament, and Birchard is expected to act as the team's alternate player at the World Championships.
When the International Olympic Committee announced it would be a 2018 Olympic sport, former Canadian and world men's champion Jeff Stoughton was hired by Curling Canada to oversee a mixed doubles program in hurry-up mode.
Mixed doubles games are eight ends instead of the traditional 10. Each team delivers five stones, but has six rocks in play because a stone from each team is pre-positioned in front of the rings and in the house.
Lawes is the first Canadian curler to win medals in back-to-back Olympics and both players join Kevin Martin as the only Canadians to win two Olympic curling medals. They are the first two to win two gold medals.
Lawes and Morris won Olympic gold in just their 22nd game as a team. They came together in January for the Canadian Olympic curling trials. Lawes was brought in as a replacement player after Morris’s original partner, Rachel Homan, had to bow out as she was already qualified for the Olympics in women’s curling.
It was Lawes and Morris's second win over the Swiss in five days after they made Jenny Perret and Martin Rios pay for their mistakes early on the way to a 7-2 win in the round robin.
Lawes and Morris finished the tournament with an 8-1 record, reeling off eight consecutive victories after dropping a 9-6 decision to Norway in their opening match. They are also a combined 29-1 in Olympic play.
The 39-year-old Morris of Ottawa was an Olympic champion at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics playing third for the now-retired Kevin Martin, who told CBC Sports's Devin Heroux on Monday that "you won't meet a better big-game player than John Morris."
Lawes and Morris came together only one month ago at the Canadian Olympic trials. A resilient tandem, they made mistakes in South Korea and learned from them, outscoring their opponents 64-24.
Bill Burfoot, Manitoba Post
Photo - olympic.ca