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Morris resurfaces with Cotter's crew

Ex-Martin third hooks up with Kelowna rink

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Veteran curler John Morris will get another crack at representing Canada at the Olympic Games.

Morris has joined Jim Cotter's rink from Kelowna as the team prepares for the Canadian Olympic pre-trial competition in November.

Twenty-four teams will be looking to take a step closer to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, when the 2013 Road to the Roar Pre-Trials get underway on Nov. 5 at the Memorial Auditorium Complex in Kitchener, Ont.

Twelve teams of each gender will play off for two berths into the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials Dec. 1 to 8 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg.

Morris spent the last seven seasons as a third on Kevin Martin's Edmonton rink, helping the team win an Olympic gold medal, two Canadian men's curling championships and one world title over that span.

Morris parted ways with Martin last week, despite the fact Martin has already qualified for the Canadian curling trials.

"The past couple seasons, especially this last season, I felt that we weren't performing up to our capabilities," Morris said at the time. "I just felt it is in the best interest of our team if we brought someone new in there.

"I've always played with passion and drive and I felt, especially this last season, I was lacking some of that and as a result my performance had declined a bit and I was no longer thriving."

Morris said he would take some time to decide on his future, but within a week he had already found a new rink to call home.

"When a guy of John's calibre calls you out of the blue, you're definitely interested in what he has to say," Cotter said in a statement. "John is someone who I've always highly respected on and off the ice. John is one of the best players in the world and surely would be accepted by any team he approached. Just based on his attitude and passion that he brings to the game and the fact that he is already good friends with several of our team members, it was an easy choice to make to join forces."

Cotter is coming off a successful season in 2012-13, reaching the final of the Masters Grand Slam of Curling and the quarter-finals of two other Grand Slam events.

"I am extremely excited to be partnering up with Jim Cotter for an Olympic run next season," said Morris. "I have always had nothing but tons of respect for not only his shooting ability but also his attitude towards the game of curling."

Morris will join a five-man rotation on the team, which includes Cotter, Jason Gunnlaugson, Tyrel Griffith and Rick Sawatzky.

"I took the five-man team option back to the guys and we all quickly agreed that the addition of John's experience and ability would substantially improve our team and take us to a new level," Cotter said. "We all recognize how much John has sacrificed; it's no secret. With that said, it has motivated us even more. It's not every day an opportunity like this presents itself. We are ecstatic right now and are already looking forward to stepping on the ice again next season."

Cotter said the team will feature Morris calling the game, while Cotter throws skip rocks.

-- The Canadian Press

Road to the Roar rinks

Teams qualified for the Road to the Roar through the Canadian Curling Association's Canadian Team Ranking System:

MEN

Brad Jacobs, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

Brad Gushue, St. John's, Nfld.

Mark Kean, Toronto

Jim Cotter, Kelowna, B.C.

Steve Laycock, Saskatoon

Joe Frans, Bradford, Ont.

Jean-Michel Ménard, St-Romuald, Que.

Greg Balsdon, Toronto

Rob Fowler, Brandon, Man.

Bryan Cochrane, Ottawa

Jake Higgs, Harriston, Ont.

Rob Rumfeldt, Guelph, Ont.

WOMEN

Shannon Kleibrink, Calgary

Laura Crocker, Edmonton

Renee Sonnenberg, Grande Prairie, Alta.

Cheryl Bernard, Calgary

Crystal Webster, Calgary

Amber Holland, Regina

Val Sweeting, Edmonton

Kelly Scott, Kelowna, B.C.

Cathy Auld, Mississauga, Ont.

Tracy Horgan, Sudbury, Ont.

Barb Spencer, Winnipeg

Krista McCarville, Thunder Bay, Ont.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 3, 2013 D4

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