May 21, 2018

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Opinion

Lawes, Morris advance to mixed doubles curling gold medal game

NATACHA PISARENKO / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS</p><p>Canada's Kaitlyn Lawes, right, and John Morris, celebrate winning the mixed doubles semi-final curling match against Norway's Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018.</p>

NATACHA PISARENKO / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Canada's Kaitlyn Lawes, right, and John Morris, celebrate winning the mixed doubles semi-final curling match against Norway's Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018.

GANGNEUNG — Winnipeg’s Kaitlyn Lawes is a two-time Olympic medallist, with only the colour of her second medal still to be determined.

Lawes and partner John Morris defeated Norway 8-4 here Monday morning Korea time in the semifinal of the mixed doubles curling event to advance to Tuesday’s gold medal game.

With the victory, Lawes and Morris have now secured at least a silver medal to go with the Olympic golds they previously won in team curling — Lawes in Sochi as third for Jennifer Jones and Morris in Vancouver as third for Kevin Martin.

“Wow,” Lawes said after the game. “To be here in this moment and enjoying and being at the Olympics again — you never know if you’re going to be here in the first place.

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GANGNEUNG — Winnipeg’s Kaitlyn Lawes is a two-time Olympic medallist, with only the colour of her second medal still to be determined.

Lawes and partner John Morris defeated Norway 8-4 here Monday morning Korea time in the semifinal of the mixed doubles curling event to advance to Tuesday’s gold medal game.

MICHAEL BURNS PHOTO</p><p>Canada's Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris hug after defeating Norway's Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten in the mixed doubles semi-final.</p>

MICHAEL BURNS PHOTO

Canada's Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris hug after defeating Norway's Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten in the mixed doubles semi-final.

With the victory, Lawes and Morris have now secured at least a silver medal to go with the Olympic golds they previously won in team curling — Lawes in Sochi as third for Jennifer Jones and Morris in Vancouver as third for Kevin Martin.

"Wow," Lawes said after the game. "To be here in this moment and enjoying and being at the Olympics again — you never know if you’re going to be here in the first place.

"And so to be here a second time and to know we’re coming home with a medal for Canada for a second time is so special. And to share this with my family — it’s a dream come true."

Lawes and Morris will play for gold on Tuesday against the winner of Monday’s other semifinal between Switzerland and Olympic Athletes from Russia. That game is scheduled for Monday evening Korea time.

Canada beat both Switzerland and OAR during the round-robin. The gold medal game will air live in Winnipeg at 5 a.m. CT Tuesday on CBC.

Lawes struggled early and mightily against Norway — curling just 42 percent through the first three ends and missing her last shot in three of the first four ends.

But to his everlasting credit, Morris was good enough early on to limit the damage until Lawes got back on track.

Canada led 3-2 at the fourth end break and Lawes credited Morris with helping her recapture the game that led the field in shooting percentages here all last week during the round-robin.

"I was obviously a little bit frustrated with not being able to finish it off with my last rock," said Lawes. "But I tried not to get too frustrated and let it bug me. And John was a huge support — he kept saying, ‘Be patient. We’ll figure it out. We’ve got eight ends.’"

Lawes said she wondered if the problem was her or her rocks and concluded, along with Morris and national team coach Jeff Stoughton, that "it was a bit of both."

Lawes switched her rocks for ones Morris had been using and her game improved immediately. A perfectly executed tapback with her final stone of the fifth end proved to be the game-breaker, leading to a steal of two for Canada and a 5-2 lead from which they’d never look back.

Lawes also made critical shots to end the sixth end — limiting Norway to a deuce — and another nice tap in the seventh end, which put the game away for good with a three-ender.

While Monday’s win means medals for Lawes and Morris, it is also a big win for Winnipeg's Stoughton, who as national coach has shepherded Canada’s fledgling mixed doubles program over the last quadrennial from literally nothing into a program that has now won an Olympic medal and appears to be peaking at exactly the right moment.

"It’s certainly satisfying," Stoughton said here Monday, "that what we’ve worked on almost three years now comes to fruition with a medal.

"And hopefully it’s going to be a gold."

email: paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @PaulWiecek

Read more by Paul Wiecek.

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