They’re on top of the world right now as the first-ever Olympic gold medalists in mixed doubles curling, but things weren’t always so rosy for Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris.
They’d both won Olympic gold before—Morris as part of Kevin Martin’s rinks at Vancouver 2010, and Lawes as part of Jennifer Jones’s rink at Sochi 2014—but they only came together as a team last December, ahead of January’s Canadian Olympic trials in mixed doubles.
Lawes and Morris weren’t the favourites in a field that included numerous high-profile curlers. They started out losing three of their first six draws, but gained strength as the competition went along and eventually emerged as Canada’s representatives for PyeongChang 2018.
At the Games, they also started slowly, with a loss to Norway and a narrow win over the United States. But once again, they gained momentum over time, and stood tall at the end of the tournament.
“It’s been a short long journey, I guess you could say,” said Lawes, after her team defeated Switzerland 10-3 in the gold-medal final on Tuesday. “I’m just so proud of us for being able to overcome some obstacles of being a new team.”
How did they do it? Morris says it’s all about communication.
“We had to learn on the fly … we had some early losses and we really learned from each other,” said Morris. “Bottom line, I think we have a really good dynamic, the two of us, and that’s what pulled us through.”
Lawes and Morris are now the first Canadians (and two of just six athletes overall) to win multiple Olympic gold medals in curling—and Morris says it’s “just unbelievable” to have done so.
“You don’t have a lot of chances to go to the Olympics,” he said. “The curlers from Canada, we have a lot of depth there.
“It feels fantastic, we have a lot of support back home, and to be able to help our team out with a gold medal and to be able to bring it back to all our friends and family and all our support back home, it just feels amazing.”
Neither Lawes nor Morris knew what to expect heading into the gold-medal final against Switzerland. Team Canada had already beaten the Swiss earlier in the competition, but the mixed doubles format can be highly unpredictable.
Lawes vowed to simply enjoy every second of the experience, no matter the result. Much to her surprise, Switzerland conceded after six ends, giving her team the gold.
“It was still in my head, thinking we’d have to go eight ends, an extra end, you never know, you think it’s going to go down to the wire,” she said. “To be coming out on top in this tough competition is just a dream come true.”
The Canadian pair’s victory will no doubt open some eyes about the mixed doubles game, which was making its Olympic debut in PyeongChang.
“This game of mixed doubles is just fantastic,” said Morris. “It’s something that everyone back in Canada should try. It’s fast-paced, athletic, a lot of fun and the beer still tastes just as good after the game.
“I think that it’s here to stay and I can’t wait to see how well it does in Canada.”