Faced with having to select an Olympic mixed curling team instead of traditional play, Curling Canada put a premium on top flying experience for its selection.
It didn’t hurt to have the reigning Olympic champion in the nomination mix.
John Morris and Rachel Homan were selected Thursday to represent Canada in Beijing as the league went with the safe and predictable selection of players with uploaded resumes.
We understand the circumstances,” Morris said in a video call. “At the end of the day, when you have a chance to wear a maple leaf on your back and go to battle for your country to try and get a medal, it’s something I enjoy.
“I can’t wait to get another chance.”
In addition to their Olympic experience, both players have won world titles and are three-time national champions.
Morris, 43, won the Olympic gold after overtaking Kevin Martin at the 2010 Vancouver Games. He also took the mixed doubles gold at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games with Kaitlin Laws in his Olympic debut in the discipline.
Homann, 32, represented Canada in the women’s team competition in South Korea, but did not reach the podium. They were replaced by the Lawes for the mixed doubles trials after the team’s dock was closed.
“We wanted to pick a top-level team with great international experience and a proven track record of winning performance,” said national team coach Scott Pfeiffer. “I think John and Rachel, with their Olympic experience – and John especially with mixed doubles – make them the perfect team to represent Canada in Beijing.”
Homann and Morris have won four of their last six mixed doubles events together and 45 of their last 49 matches as a duo overall.
Canada will join fellow leaders Sweden, Great Britain, Switzerland, Norway and the United States in the Olympic 10-team mixed doubles arena.
READ MORE: Gushue wins men’s final in Canadian Olympic curling trials, Jones takes women’s place
COVID-19: NB enforced 16-day lockdown, senior doctor says ‘a matter of life or death’
Federals say Canadian truck drivers crossing the US border are now exempt from new COVID-19 rules
Homan has had success in Beijing in the past. She beat Russia’s Anna Sidorova in the final of the 2017 Women’s World Championships at the Capital Indoor Stadium.
The Winter Games mixed doubles round-up begins on February 2 at the Ice Cube.
“We are really excited, we are grateful and honored that Curling Canada has placed their trust in us,” Homan said. “We take that very seriously.
“John and I are rivals and we’re excited to get together and start training in a few days.”
Homann and Pfeiffer were expected to join Morris this weekend in Canmore, Alta, for a secluded training camp before they leave for China.
Curling Canada consulted with the Canadian Olympic Committee and owns the podium before making the announcement, which ended a nearly three-week waiting period for competing teams.
The mixed doubles trials, scheduled to begin December 28 in Portage la Prairie, Man, have been cancelled. , on Boxing Day. Curling Canada cited travel risks and positive COVID-19 cases among its athletes for its decision to scrub the 16-team event.
READ MORE: Curling Canada cancels Olympic mixed doubles trials amid spike in COVID-19 cases
The nomination process is made more difficult by the fact that the top two national rankings Anna Sidorova, Jocelyn Peterman and Brett Gallant, No. 2 Jennifer Jones and Brent Laing have been disqualified since they qualified in the four-man events.
Unlike many other curling leagues, Curling Canada does not allow curlers to play in both areas in the same games.
Peterman and Jones booked their tickets for Beijing in November by winning the women’s team trials in Saskatoon. Gallant won the men’s title by overtaking Brad Joshio.
Other couples believed to be in the mix for selection include Nancy Martin, No. 3, Terrell Griffith, No. 4 Lisa Weigel, and John Ebbing. Weagle, a member of Jones’ five-player circuit, was eligible because she was listed as a multiplayer substitute.
Keri Enarson teamed up with Goshio to win the Canadian mixed doubles championship last season in the Calgary Bubble.
She was planning to play Trials with Brad Jacobs, who lost the Trials team final to Gushue. Meanwhile, Ling was ready to play with Selena Ngigovan.
“We have been blessed with an amazing group of mixed doubles players, and I have nothing but sympathy for the footballers who have been involved in the trials and have had this opportunity due to the pandemic,” Curling Canada CEO Kathryn Henderson said in a statement. “But we are confident that Rachel and John will make Canada proud in Beijing.”
Homann and Morris, both from Ottawa, are ranked fifth in Canada, but their experience in the big matches has been tough for the other teams.
“We have John Morris, who is basically the most accomplished mixed doubles player in curling history right now,” Pfeiffer said. “Rachel has a lot of experience, both on the world stage and on the Olympic stage as well.
“We were absolutely confident that no matter what, they would be an excellent pairing going forward in these Olympics.”
Morris and Houmann curling connections are deep.
Mark, Rachel’s brother, used to play with Maurice at the junior level. Maurice’s father, Earl, coached the four-man Homan team during its formative years through 2014.
Back in the day, families often got together during the holidays for fun games.
“To be named as part of the Olympic team is exceptional,” Homann said. “But then, being able to do that with someone you’ve known your whole life is just another great feeling.”
Three-time Canadian mixed doubles medalist Morris won the silver with Homan in the 2017 national qualifiers. They turned the table at last fall’s Qualico Mixed Doubles Classic, defeating Jones/Ling in the semi-finals and Peterman/Gallant in the final.
“I like the pressure, I want it,” Morris said. “I love the main stage and I know Rachel is the same. She has a track record. Is this how we wanted to be picked? No, we wanted to take the fight against the best team in Canada and prove that we were the best team in the country.
Under the circumstances, that was not possible this time. I think we’re really excited about working really hard on getting ready for Beijing and going out and proving ourselves on the ice.”
© 2022 Canadian Press