Team Canada’s attempt to defend the Olympic Gold Medal in Mixed Doubles Curling drew a tough first round-robin match against reigning world champions Great Britain. In the first Olympics mixed doubles competition in 2018, John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes took home the gold. This year, Morris is paired with Rachel Homan.
They faced the British team of Bruce Mouat and Jennifer Dodds. Despite a hard-fought battle, with Canada down by one and having the hammer for the eighth and final end, the Brits came out victorious 6-4. Canada was able to score a single in the first end on a strong fifth and final stone from Homan when a hit-and-run to the button was successful. However, Britain put up singles in the next two ends.
The Brits got the steal in end-three when Canada’s Morris jammed his last rock into his competitors’ blocker leaving the Brits in position for the steal. As Homan released the final rock of the end, her reaction displayed that she knew the Brits would score a single.
The squads traded singles in the fourth and fifth ends. Strong second and third rocks from Morris helped seal Canada’s single in end number four. The Brits almost put together a two-ender in the fifth, but Mouat’s last rock just missed nudging what would have been their second scoring rock toward the button. The Canadians used their power-play in end six to score the first multiple-point end and move the white and red into a 4-3 lead. It would be their final lead of the game.
The Brits moved back on top with a two-ender of their own when they used their power play in the seventh. As the eighth and final end proceeded it looked as if Canada would be able to use the hammer to get a two-ender to win or at least a single, but strong shots by Britain’s Mouat and then Dodds left Homan with a near-impossible final shot resulting in a final end single for the Brits.
For Canada, it was the first round-robin play while Great Britain had defeated Sweden earlier and moved to 2-0 with the win. Canada fell to 0-1. It seemed that Britain had a bit more comfort on the ice, having played on it previously. The Canadians, particularly Morris, did not curl well early as both the sheet and the rocks seemed to lack familiarity with the duo.
The Olympic curling venue this year is a converted aquatics center where dehumidifiers are being used in an attempt to improve conditions. In the post-game interview, Morris and Homan were matter-of-fact in addressing the early loss.
“We learned a lot,” Homan said. She focused on missed shots throughout the match, leaving undesirable angles of attack. “I’ve got to be sharper earlier,” said Morris, who also talked about the need to be patient.
Each squad will play nine round-robin matches. The top four squads will advance to the semifinals. Canada returns to play against the 2018’s Bronze Medalists from Norway later in the day in Beijing.