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Canada expects men's and women's success after mixed doubles disappointment

After Rachel Homan and John Morris surprisingly failed to make the semi-finals, Olympic gold medallists Jennifer Jones and Brad Gushue carry the curling giants' hopes at Beijing.

5 min By Danny Lewis
Rachel Homan and John Morris
(Picture by 2022 Getty Images)

For curling's powerhouse nation, Beijing 2022 has not gone according to plan so far.

Canada was shocked as Rachel Homan and John Morris failed to reach the curling mixed doubles semi-finals after a stunning round-robin upset at the hands of Australia's Tahli Gill and Dean Hewitt.

The Canadians have won a medal at every Winter Olympics since Nagano 1998 when the sport made its return to the Games after 74 years.

Morris won mixed doubles gold in Korea with the men's and women's teams failing to make the podium. The pressure is now on skips Brad Gushue and Jennifer Jones - both of whom already have Olympic titles to their names - to maintain Canada's peerless Olympic record.

Questions being asked

While Homan and Morris have carried the can for their early exit, there are also questions being asked of the decision-makers and the pair's preparation for the tournament.

Due to COVID-19 concerns, Canada's mixed doubles trials - scheduled for December - were cancelled with Curling Canada having little on which to base their selection given he top curlers usually focus on their four-person rinks.

They went for Homan - who skipped for Canada at PyeongChang 2018 - and Morris despite the duo having not played together since 2018.

That decision came just weeks before they flew to Beijing where they faced teams with far more experienced pairings.

One was Norway’s silver medal-winning duo - married couple Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten - who won bronze at PyeongChang and appeared in seven mixed doubles World Championships before Beijing.

"Kids in a candy store"

Three-quarters of Canada's women's team - skip Jennifer Jones, lead Dawn McEwen, and third Kaitlyn Laws - who won PyeongChang mixed doubles gold with Morris - claimed gold at Sochi 2014.

Meanwhile, second Jocelyn Peterman will be competing at her first Games.

“I think we all feel like kids in a candy store, like it’s our first time going to the Olympics. It’s just so surreal to be going back,” Jones said in a media availability, as quoted by TSN.

“I think experience is always an added benefit. It’s not necessary," she adds. "I would say right now I feel like it’s the perfect world because some of us have been, so we have experience and it’s Jocelyn’s first time, so we get to see the Olympics through her eyes all over again which is super exciting.

"There’s really nothing better in the world than walking in and seeing the Olympics Rings.”

The women won't have to contend with the same lack of familiarity as Homan and Morris, but there is still plenty of competition.

Sweden, led by Anna Hasselborg, are the reigning Olympic champions with the Korea team which reached the PyeongChang final - aka the Garlic Girls - returning with skip Kim EunJung.

Great Britain are also among the favourites with skip Eve Muirhead in her fourth Games, while Alina Kovaleva's ROC rink also merits plenty of respect.

"A challenge ahead"

Canada's men's team, comprising skip Brad Gushue, lead Geoff Walker, second Brett Gallant and third Mark Nichols, are also incredibly familiar with each other.

The quartet have been together since 2012/13 with Gushue and Nichols winning gold at Torino 2006.

However, they will also be tested with Gushue telling the Canadian Olympic Committee: “It’s going to be a really difficult field.

“There is so much quality around the world that we can go in and play well and still not come away with the gold medal. The quality is so much higher… so much deeper.

“So we know we’ve got a challenge ahead of us. But I do think if we play to our capabilities we’re going to be there at the end of the week… whether it’s gold, silver, bronze, we’ll see.”

Sweden's five-time world champion Niklas Edin is still seeking Olympic gold, while Bruce Mouat will look to put mixed doubles disappointment behind him with World Championship runners-up Great Britain.

Italy were the surprise gold medallists in the mixed doubles with one half of their winning pair, Amos Mosaner, playing third for skip Joel Retornaz.

How to watch Canada in the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games curling tournaments

Canada's participation in the men's round robin begins against Denmark on Wednesday 9 February at 20:05 local time (07:05 EST, 04:05 PST).

They then play a match every day with Norway on Thursday followed by Switzerland, Sweden, reigning champions USA, and Italy.

Gushue and co play twice on Tuesday 15 February, against China and ROC, before facing Great Britain early on Thursday 17 February.

Should they make it through to the semi-finals, they will play again on the Thursday evening.

The men's bronze medal match is on Friday 18 February at 20:05 local time with the final on Saturday 19 February at 14:05 local time (01:05 EST, 22:05 PST on Friday).

The women get underway on Thursday 10 February against PyeongChang silver medallists Korea at 20:05 local time.

Then come matches on consecutive days against Japan, reigning champions Sweden and Switzerland before a double header on Monday 14 February against ROC and Great Britain.

Jones' rink play twice again on Wednesday 16 February - against USA and China - before completing their round-robin phase against Denmark.

The semi-finals are on Friday 18 February at 20:05 with the bronze medal match taking place 24 hours later.

The women's curling final is on the last day of the Games, Sunday 20 February, and starts at 09:05 local time (20:05 EST, 17:05 PST on Saturday).

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