Canada's Morris, Lawes 1 win from historic Olympic mixed curling gold

Morris helps his teammate find her groove as Canada beats Norway

Canada's Morris, Lawes 1 win from historic Olympic mixed curling gold
Canada's Kaitlyn Lawes, right, and John Morris, celebrate their mixed doubles semifinal win against Norway on Monday in Gangneung, South Korea. © Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

By Devin Heroux, CBC Sports

John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes are now one win away from granite greatness again at the Olympics — this time in mixed doubles curling.

The two overcame a number of missed opportunities early in their semifinal game against Norway to win 8-4 and book their ticket to the gold-medal game against Switzerland.

The Swiss defeated the Olympic Athletes from Russia 7-5 in the other semifinal.

"That sudden-death semi is probably the most pressure-packed game in curling," Morris said. "We all want to be in that gold-medal game and have a chance for a medal."

It was Morris who kept Canada in the game early on after Lawes struggled to find her groove. At the midway point of the game Canada was leading 3-2 — their lead could have been much more than that. 

But it was a pivotal conversation between Lawes and Morris during the break that changed the tide of the game.

"John kept telling me to be patient and be tough. He's said we have eight ends. Let's figure it out. I couldn't have done it without him," Lawes said. "I just didn't want to have any regrets coming out of that game."

Click on the video below to watch post-game reaction from Lawes, Morris:

Both have won Olympic gold in the past — Morris in 2010 and Lawes in 2014. They had been in massive games before. The experience paid off in the last half of the game.

With the score 5-4 in the seventh end and Canada holding hammer, Lawes made a spectacular controlled-weight tap for three. She battled through the first-half mistakes and came through in the clutch when it mattered most. And it was Morris who helped her to do it. 

"I needed that support. I feed off of confidence. If he believes in me it makes it easier for me to believe in myself. To know he trusts me is huge. You need that in a good partner and teammate," she said.

Morris never doubted his teammate for a second.

"I have nothing but confidence in Kaitlyn. She's been such an outstanding shooter here. I just knew she would start making shots and she made clutch shots to seal it."

Feeling the fire

Morris has won everything there is to win in curling — briers, world championship, and Olympic gold. Now he's trying to add the first mixed doubles Olympic title to his name. 

There are times Morris has found it difficult to get emotionally invested in games, but not in this semifinal. His passion was evident with an eruption of joy when they won.

"I live for this. The juices were flowing today," he said. "I just really felt it. I felt that fire in there today that is sometimes hard to find and it was sure awesome. That's why I love curling."

Morris is a huge fan of mixed doubles curling and hopes this Olympic debut helps grow the sport in Canada.

"This mixed doubles is so much fun to play. If I was just starting out I'd play mixed. It's fun. It's more athletic."

Click on the video below to watch Canada secure victory:

The chance for gold again

Four years ago Lawes was part of an historic undefeated Olympic gold medal with Jennifer Jones. Now she's trying to become the first female Canadian curler to win two gold medals.

"It's an honour to be going into this game," she said. "I couldn't have dreamed up a better week for us especially after losing our first game. It's been so fun learning and building towards this moment."

Lawes and Morris came together only one month ago at the Canadian Olympic trials. They practised for about 30 minutes on ice in Winnipeg before starting this Olympic journey. They've made mistakes. They're learned from them. Now they're one win away from an historic mixed doubles curling gold.

"This is where we want to be," Morris said. "We know we'll have a heck of a battle but we'll be prepared. We'll come out tough like Canadian curlers tomorrow."