With a key win over the American team, Canadian Mixed Doubles pair Rachel Homan and John Morris are on the verge of qualifying for Monday’s curling semifinals at the Beijing Olympics. Although the red and white have not yet clinched a spot in the semis, they have two games remaining against the Czech Republic and Australia, both of whom are dwelling near the bottom of the ten-team round-robin standings.
In addition, the Canadian duo will face off against a surprising Italy squad that not only leads the standings but is thus far undefeated. Morris and Homan sit at 4-2 with losses to Great Britain and Sweden. Their victories have come against the USA and Switzerland as well as Norway and the host nation.
The two remaining games against the lower-ranked teams give Team Canada, who currently sits third, a solid opportunity to lock up a position in the top four. Meanwhile, the game against Italy not only gives Morris and Homan a chance to move up the table, but it also provides a glimpse into how they may fair on Monday as well as in Tuesday’s medal games.
There has been some brilliant curling done by the Ottawa-based pair, but even in their victories, they have failed to convert some shots into points while staying aggressive. They have also had difficulties with inconsistencies, particularly early. In their most lopsided defeat, the Canadians surrendered a pair of steals to Sweden in the first two ends before falling 6-2. In the opening loss to Great Britain, the Canadian curlers, most particularly Morris, also struggled early.
Playing in a converted aquatics center, ice conditions have proved to be particularly challenging at times for all the teams. The pair from Switzerland, mixed doubles specialists who have played together for years and had significant international success, have surprisingly struggled in these games.
In numerous in-match and post-game interviews, the Canadian pair has shown few signs of concern. They have repeatedly stated that each game is a learning experience.
If Homan and Morris can get consistently to where they’ve been in the four wins, and convert on just a few more stones, there is a realistic chance for them to run the table and return to the top of the podium.