Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Morris off to hot start at Olympic pre-trials

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KITCHENER, Ont. -- John Morris is on the right track for a second straight Olympic gold medal.

Morris, who won gold at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics throwing third rocks for Kevin Martin, skipped his new team to a victory on Tuesday, rolling to a 10-2 win over Rob Rumfeldt's rink.

The tournament will decide the final two men's and women's entries in the Canadian Olympic trials next month in Winnipeg.

"It's well-known that Sheet E is tough," said Morris. "It's definitely playing with some more curl in interesting spots compared to the other sheets.

"So we're glad we got a win on that sheet, and now we can focus on whatever sheet we're on next. We can't take anything lightly; every game you get here is going to be against some tough opponents. "

'We can't take anything lightly; every game you get here is going to be against some tough opponents'

Morris's team, representing Kelowna and Vernon, B.C., took one in the first end, and then piled on with a stolen single in the second and two more in the third and never looked back to move on in the A-Event of the triple-knockout competition. Rumfeldt's team dropped to the B-Event.

Greg Balsdon of Elgin, Ont., made an angle-raise takeout for three in the 10th end to beat top seed Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., 10-9. Jacobs had taken an 8-3 lead thanks to three in the fourth end, one more in the fifth and a steal of two in the sixth before Balsdon mounted the comeback.

In other Tuesday night men's play, 2006 Olympic gold-medallist Brad Gushue of St. John's, N.L., stole three in the second end and got one more in the third and sailed to a 9-5 triumph over Jean-Michel Menard of St-Romuald, Que. Jake Higgs of Glencoe, Ont., was a 6-4 winner over Mark Kean of Ajax, Ont., in the other men's game.

In the lone women's contest on Tuesday evening, Edmonton's Val Sweeting recovered from an opening-round loss to beat Regina's Amber Holland 8-3. Sweeting moves on in the B-Event, while Holland drops to the C-Event -- one loss away from elimination.

In the afternoon draw, Winnipeg's Barb Spencer stole deuces in the first and fifth ends en route to an 8-5 win over Holland in the opening round of the women's tournament.

Spencer stole one more in the third end to take an early 3-0 lead she would never surrender.

Holland, looking for her fourth trip to the trials, fell behind 6-1 at one point before getting to within two thanks to a stolen deuce in the seventh end. But Spencer got the deuce back in the eighth to seal the victory.

In other action, Kelly Scott of Kelowna, B.C., took two in the 10th end for a 6-5 win over Cathy Auld of Mississauga, Ont.

Tracy Horgan of Sudbury, Ont., defeated Sweeting 8-3 thanks largely to a stolen three in the eighth end when Sweeting's final shot slid through the house.

In the draw's final game, Krista McCarville of Thunder Bay, Ont., drew for a single in the 11th end for a dramatic 9-8 victory over Calgary's Crystal Webster. The teams traded three-enders in the ninth and 10th ends to set up the extra.

On the men's side, Rumfeldt scored three in the first end and three more in the third en route to an emphatic 12-5 win over fifth-seed Steve Laycock of Saskatoon.

In the only all-Ontario matchup of the afternoon, Joe Frans of the Bradford Curing Club had his hands full early as Higgs took two in the first and stole another in the second when Frans's final draw came up short. Higgs, calling the game but leaving last rocks to third Brent Ross, forced Frans to chase most of the game and stole the last two ends for a 9-3 victory.

Ottawa's Bryan Cochrane faced Menard in a game that saw lots of rocks in play from the start. After holding Cochrane to a single in the first, Menard took control and cruised to a 10-4 win.

In the other morning game, Balsdon hit for three in the ninth end for a 7-4 win over Rob Fowler of Brandon, Man.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 6, 2013 D2

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