Mixed doubles curling has Olympic champion John Morris hooked

John Morris is all in on mixed doubles curling. Winning the first Olympic gold medal in it will do that to you.

He hasn’t completely shut the door on a return to a men’s team in the future, but Morris currently feels more passionate about curling’s newest discipline.

The 39-year-old from Ottawa is playing mixed doubles exclusively. Morris recruits different female partners when Olympic teammate Kaitlyn Lawes isn’t available.

Not only did he and Lawes become the first Olympic mixed doubles champs in February, they also are the first curlers in the world to win Olympic gold in both it and team curling.

Lawes plays vice on the Jennifer Jones team that won the Olympic women’s title in 2014. Morris was Kevin Martin’s third in 2010 when they claimed men’s gold.

Few national men’s championships haven’t featured Morris at skip or vice as he’s represented Ontario, Alberta and B.C. at the Brier during his career.

Now living in Canmore, Alta., Morris isn’t feeling any pangs to return to a men’s foursome.

“There’s probably only a small handful of guys I would ever consider playing with again,” Morris told The Canadian Press. “I would not be playing men’s team this year even if Brad Gushue called me.

“It’s mixed doubles now and if the right opportunity presents itself in the next year or two, it’ll be something I’ll think about. I’m really enjoying playing mixed doubles and that’s what’s on my radar right now.”

Morris will represent Canada in the second leg of the World Cup of Curling starting Wednesday in Omaha, Neb., with Edmonton’s Kalynn Park as his doubles partner.

Lawes is otherwise occupied with Jones at the Canada Cup of Curling that also opens Wednesday in Estevan, Sask.

Taylor McDonald was initially going to curl with Morris in Omaha, but the Canada Cup claimed her too when Allison Flaxey’s team qualified for Estevan.

In a crowded curling calendar, Morris accepts he’ll likely have a rotation of partners in mixed doubles.

“I feel like I have a lot of friends in the curling world,” he said. “It’s a good challenge if I have a different partner at an event.”

But Morris and 29-year-old Lawes from Winnipeg have committed to be mixed doubles teammates for at least two seasons. They won last month’s Canad Inns Mixed Doubles Championship in Portage, Man.

“She’d be my first choice because we’ve had a great track record,” Morris said. “I fully respect her commitment to her women’s team with Jennifer Jones.

“She’s playing on one of the best women’s teams in the world and she’s got a great thing going there.”

Mixed doubles fits Morris’s life right now. The firefighter’s wife Maggie gave birth to Jack a month after the Winter Games.

“These mixed doubles events are three or four days. They’re definitely a little shorter and a little less maintenance because you’re not dealing with four or five personalities,” Morris explained.

“It’s a bit more flexible and adaptable, the game of mixed doubles, and right now with having a young family and not wanting to be away over 100 days a year in a hotel, it’s kind of nice to have more flexibility.”

Morris is so bullish on mixed doubles that he’s organized the inaugural Qualico Mixed Doubles Classic in Canmore and Banff, Alta., Jan. 3-6.

“We want to create a bit of a curling culture because it’s so driven by alpine and nordic skiing,” Morris explained. “It’s filled up. There’s a waiting list for it.”

In Omaha, Morris and Park are in a group with Switzerland’s Jenny Perret and Martin Rios, whom Morris and Lawes beat for Olympic gold in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

“I think they’ve won almost every event they’ve been in,” Morris said. “They’re definitely talented mixed-doubles specialists. That will be a very good test.”

Teams skipped by Winnipeg’s Jason Gunnlaugson and Tracy Fleury will join Morris representing Canada in Omaha.

Canada swept the first leg of the inaugural World Cup in Suzhou, China, in September. Kevin Koe and Rachel Homan won the team events, while Kirk Muyres and Laura Walker took mixed doubles.

The World Cup’s third stop is Jan. 30-Feb. 3 in Jonkoping, Sweden. The grand final May 8-12 in Beijing features winning teams from the previous three stops.

The World Cup, sponsored by a Chinese company, offers a total of US$775,000, or just over CDN$1 million, in prize money.

ICE CHIPS

The 15-team, $140,000 Home Hardware Canada Cup of Curling gets underway Wednesday in Estevan, Sask.

Defending champions Jennifer Jones and Reid Carruthers have teams in the field as do Brad Gushue, Rachel Homan, Kerri Einarson, Brad Jacobs and Kevin Koe.

A virtual tie in the 2017-18 Order of Merit standings for the final women’s berth added an eighth team to the tournament.

The winners earn a berth in the 2021 pre-Olympic trials and will represent Canada at a World Cup event during the 2019-20 season.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce announces business of the year winners

All finalists ‘displayed courage’ this year, says chamber CEO

More than 400 COVID-19 cases reported in Alberta Wednesday, according to multiple reports. (File photo)
Over 400 additional COVID-19 cases Wednesday

3,372 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta

A 47-megawatt solar power project has been proposed for a site southwest of the Nova Chemicals petrochemical complex.
Map contributed
$52-million solar power project proposed for Joffre

Project to be built southwest of Nova Chemicals plant could be producing power by the end of 2021

AnnaMarie Lea, artistic director of Lacombe’s Cow Patti Theatre, thinks a lot of people would love to focus on something other than the pandemic, with a few hours of entertainment. (Contributed photo).
Some Red Deer-area shows will go on — with new pandemic precautions

Some theatrical productions are happening under new rules

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer will be at the legislature Thursday to urge members of the UCP caucus to drop the plan to consolidate EMS dispatch by Jan. 4. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Red Deer mayor takes EMS consolidation fight to Edmonton

Mayors of Red Deer, Lethbridge, Calgary and Wood Buffalo to address UCP caucus on Thursday

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.	Kenney is isolating at home after one of his ministers tested positive for COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Alberta premier isolating after minister tests positive for COVID-19

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is isolating at home

Tampa Bay Rays' Brandon Lowe rounds the bases after a home run off Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Tony Gonsolin during the first inning in Game 2 of the baseball World Series Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Lowe homers twice, Rays hold off Dodgers 6-4 to even Series

Lowe homers twice, Rays hold off Dodgers 6-4 to even Series

Mighty Heart is held outside trainer Josie Carroll's stable by exercise rider Des McMahon, as the colt is washed down after being breezed at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto on October 15, 2020. Mighty Heart will make his Triple Crown quest from the the No. 8 post Saturday. The Queen's Plate and Prince of Wales champion was named the even-money favourite in the draw Wednesday for the $400,000 Breeders' Stakes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Mighty Heart to take run at ending Triple Crown drought in $400,000 Breeders Stakes

Mighty Heart to take run at ending Triple Crown drought in $400,000 Breeders Stakes

Toronto Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro watches during baseball spring training in Dunedin, Fla., on Friday, February 24, 2017/ Short on specifics and long on bullishness, Shapiro set an optimistic tone during his first general media availability since the team was eliminated from the post-season a few weeks ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro short on specifics, long on bullishness

Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro short on specifics, long on bullishness

Liverpool's Fabinho, saves from the goal line after a header from Ajax's captain Dusan Tadic from scoring during the group D Champions League soccer match between Ajax and Liverpool at the Johan Cruyff ArenA in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Real Madrid beaten again, Bayern surges in Champions League

Real Madrid beaten again, Bayern surges in Champions League

Toronto Wolfpack captain Josh McCrone raises the Betfred Championship Trophy alongside teammates after defeating the Featherstone Rovers in the Million Pound Game in Betfred Championship rugby league action in Toronto on October 5, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
Financially troubled Toronto Wolfpack could learn fate soon as early as next week

Financially troubled Toronto Wolfpack could learn fate soon as early as next week

Kansas City Chiefs' Demarcus Robinson (11) holds off Buffalo Bills' Tre'Davious White (27) as Bills' Justin Zimmer (61) also pursues during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
Bills defence looks to rebound after consecutive losses

Bills defence looks to rebound after consecutive losses

CPL champion Forge FC ready for CONCACAF League opener in El Salvador

CPL champion Forge FC ready for CONCACAF League opener in El Salvador

Most Read