John Morris, Kaitlym Lawes and Alex Gough earn Olympic firsts for Canada

John Morris, Kaitlyn Lawes and Alex Gough made Canadian Winter Games history Tuesday.

Morris and Lawes downed defending world champions Jenny Perret and Martin Rios of Switzerland 10-3 in six ends to capture the first-ever mixed curling gold medal. Gough secured Canada’s first Olympic medal in luge, finishing third in the women’s singles final.

Short-track speedskater Kim Boutin claimed Canada’s other medal at the Pyeongchang Winter Games, a bronze in the women’s 500-metre race. Boutin actually finished fourth but was bumped up to third after South Korea’s Minjeong Choi was disqualified.

That boosted Canada’s medal haul to 10 so far — three gold, four silver, three bronze.

The Canadian women’s hockey team also earned its second straight win, a 4-1 decision over Finland. Up next will be a showdown Thursday with the arch-rival Americans, who dispatched the Russian entry 5-0.

Morris, of Ottawa, and Lawes, of Winnipeg, both claimed their second Olympic gold medals. Morris was vice for Kevin Martin when they took the men’s team title in 2010 while Lawes was third for the Jennifer Jones team that won women’s team gold in 2014.

“It feels fantastic,” said Morris. “It’s an amazing feeling winning the gold medal.

“I’m really proud of us for coming here and putting mixed doubles on the map.”

Canada broke open a tie game with four in the third end for a 6-2 advantage before going ahead 8-3 after five ends. Switzerland looked to get back into the game in the sixth with a potential multiple-point end, but the Canadians ended up with a steal of two.

Afterwards, the two teams shook hands.

Morris, 39, and Lawes, 29, proved to be quick studies of the mixed game, having curled together very little prior to winning January’s trials. They topped the preliminary round with a 6-1 record and beat Norway 8-4 in the semifinal to advance to the championship game.

A disappointing fourth in Sochi four years ago, Gough had to endure some anxious moments before securing her historic medal. Gough stood third when German Tatjana Huefner, who had been in second, began her final run.

But a mistake by the German pushed the Canadian on to the podium.

Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger captured her second consecutive gold medal in three minutes 5.232, seconds while compatriot Dajana Eitberger was second in 3:05.599. Gough followed in 3:05.644.

“Elated. Just so over the moon,” said Gough, who was competing at her fourth Olympics. “Especially to come that gut-wrenching feeling of being behind (Eitberger) and probably in a fourth spot again and to have that flip around on me and be suddenly in a medal spot is so amazing.”

Calgary’s Kimberley McRae was fifth in 3:05.878 at her second Olympics, while Brooke Apshkrum, also of Calgary, was 13th in 3:07.102 at the 18-year-old’s first Games.

The awarding of the bronze medal to Boutin, of Sherbrooke, Que., capped what began as a disappointing day for the Canadian team.

Veteran racer Marianne St-Gelais, competing in her final Games, failed to make it out of the quarter-finals after receiving a penalty for impeding. She made contact with Yara Van Kerkhof of the Netherlands while jockeying for position.

The Canadian was also penalized for a false start, which surprised her.

“It’s disappointing for sure because I don’t think I deserve this call,” St-Gelais said. “But short track is short track, so sometimes you have to deal with what is happening.

“I’m not happy with the decision. I don’t think I deserved it.”

The 27-year-old from Saint-Felicien, Que., was a medal threat for the Canadians after winning silver in the distance at last year’s world championships.

St-Gelais also took silver in the 500 during the 2010 Vancouver Games and earned silver in the 3,000-metre relay in each of the previous two Olympics.

St-Gelais will compete in the 3,000-metre race Feb. 20 with Boutin, Jamie MacDonald and Kasandra Bradette.

“I have to focus on the other (races) if I want to make it count,” said St-Gelais. “We still have the relay. I’m lucky I got to race the three distances, so I have another chance.”

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