Canada bounces back in Olympic mixed doubles curling
Steal of 3 in 5th end propels Kaitlyn Lawes, John Morris to win over U.S. brother-sister duo
By Doug Harrison, CBC Sports
It was the opportunity Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris had been waiting for.
After exchanging single points through the first four ends of Thursday's Olympic mixed curling round-robin match against the United States brother-sister duo of Matt and Becca Hamilton, the Canadian tandem stole three in the fifth end to snap a 2-2 tie (see video below) en route to a 6-4 win in South Korea.
"They're getting a lot of rocks in play and making some nice angles," Lawes said of her opponents in an interview with CBC Sports after the fourth end at Gangneung Curling Centre. "Everyone's putting pressure on each other and we'll wait and see if an opportunity comes up and hopefully we can capitalize."
Watch highlights from that end by clicking on the player below:
After Lawes put up a guard to force Becca into a tough last shot in the fifth end, the 27-year-old American, staring at four Canadian rocks, took only one out to give up a steal of three.
The Hamiltons had a glorious opportunity to pull even in the sixth but a pair of huge shots, including a hit and roll by Lawes, forced the U.S. to settle for one point to close the gap to 5-3.
With Canada up 5-4 in the eighth end, a huge double by Morris making it more difficult for the Hamiltons to steal paid off as Lawes drew to the button for the victory, which followed a 9-6 tournament-opening loss to Norway.
Click on the video player below as Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris hold on for the victory:
Leading 5-3 versus the U.S., Canada had a chance to extend the margin to 8-3 in the seventh end but a slight miss on a line call by Lawes resulted in a four-point swing and narrow 5-4 advantage.
The Hamiltons, from McFarland, Wisc., secured an Olympic berth in mid-December. After posting the second-best record of the round robin at 5-2, they went on to beat John Shuster and Cory Christensen twice in two days to book their ticket for South Korea.
Matt and Becca, the reigning U.S. male and female curling athletes of the year, will also compete in both the men's and women's events in Pyeongchang.
The Hamiltons downed an Olympic Athletes from Russia team 9-3 to begin play Thursday, riding a 3-0 lead to victory.
They also struck first against Lawes and Morris when Becca drew to the button for a 1-0 lead in the first end.
Uncomfortable early on
Lawes and Morris, who had little experience playing mixed doubles together before defeating Brad Gushue and Val Sweeting in the first-ever Canadian mixed doubles Olympic trials, looked uncomfortable early on but prevented their opponent from pulling away.
After Norway stole two in the eighth end to seal the victory earlier Thursday, Lawes said she and Morris had "a couple of key misses here and there" and vowed to come back stronger.
Click on the video player below for analysis of the Canada-Norway match from Joan McCusker, Mike Harris and Bruce Rainnie:
At the Olympic trials, Lawes and Morris had struggled with communication at times and it appeared they might miss the playoffs after going 2-3 in their first five games in Portage la Prairie, Man., but came together when they needed it most.
Canada lagging in mixed doubles
The Canadians are competing at their second Winter Olympics, with the 29-year-old Lawes having won a gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Games as vice for Jennifer Jones. Morris, 39, was an Olympic champion at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics playing third for the now-retired Kevin Martin.
Despite winning five of the 10 gold medals awarded in traditional curling since the sport returned to the Olympics in 1998, Canada has lagged behind the rest of the world in mixed doubles, having never won gold at a mixed doubles world championship.
Lawes, Morris set to face China (1-1) at 6:35 p.m. ET. Click video below for more:
Mixed curling is making its debut at the Olympics, and the basics are relatively simple.
- Each team consists of only two players – one man, one woman instead of the usual teams of four players of the same gender.
- Each team throws five stones per end, with the player delivering the team's first stone of the end also delivering the team's final stone of the end. One stone per team is pre-positioned before the start of play in each end.
- The game lasts eight ends.
- The scoring is the same as in regular curling.