The Canadian pair of Rachel Homan and John Morris played extra ends in their final three matches, losing two of three. The squad’s final round-robin game came down to an extra end measurement that went in favour of the Italian team, which finished undefeated in round-robin play.
The defeat ended team Canada’s attempt to repeat at the top of the podium in mixed doubles curling, as they finished outside the top four. Missing the semi-finals leaves the team as spectators for the Monday and Tuesday matches in Beijing.
Losing to the Australian team earlier in the day put Canada in the unenviable spot of having to knock off the Italians to stay in the games.
When Italy stole two in the fourth end it looked like Canada’s chances were slim, but when Morris and Homan got two of their own in the fifth and held Italy to one in the sixth, there were definitely signs of life for the Canadians, even as Italy led 5-4.
Canada put the power play to good use in the seventh, and when the Italian squad barely missed a triple, Homan’s hammer gave Canada a lead of two with one end to play. Italy used their power play in the eighth, which is the final regular-time end in the mixed doubles format.
Morris expertly cleared the house on repeated shots but Italy was able to get the two they needed to force an extra end when Homan was just light on a freeze attempt that left the door open. Italy took advantage.
With the hammer in the extra end, it looked as if Canada would hand the Italians their first defeat of the games. Strategically, Canada played a great extra end with Homan having a draw to the button for the win with the hammer in hand. Though the shot was imperfect, it was close enough for a measurement, but that went to Italy.
In fact, from the seventh end on Canada was nearly perfect but for two near misses on the final Canadian shot in the eighth and the game-closing hammer.
It’s a disappointing finish for the pair out of Ottawa, perhaps made more disappointing by inconsistent play throughout the week.
There were brilliant ends from the Canadians, mixed in with unforced errors. At their best, the two, both of whom are champions, looked like they would bring repeat gold to Canada. But, in the end, the inconsistencies turned the squad into a near-miss for the semifinals.
The mixed double semi-finals go on Monday with the medal games on Tuesday. The undefeated Italians are now odds on favourite for the top of the podium in the event. Canadian curling turns its attention to the traditional four-member men’s and women’s crews.