“Excited to be going”, “grateful for the opportunity”, “proud & honoured to be named Team Canada” – Rachel Homan and John Morris echoed each other’s comments in today’s media availability shortly after the announcement was made that they would represent Canada in the Olympic Mixed Doubles competition in Beijing. They’ll leave Canada in 16 days and in the meantime will do their best to avoid the Omicron virus’s best efforts to derail the plan.
“Whether you’re Curling Canada or an athlete, it’s not how you want it to go down,” Morris said. “I wanted to play against Canada’s best to win it but unfortunately that couldn’t happen.”
“It’s the way it had to be done,” he said and he carefully avoided the question if being selected added extra pressure compared with winning the chance in head-to-head competition.
“Whenever you are Team Canada, regardless of how it happens, there is going to be pressure. I love the pressure – I want to play in it and so does Rachel.”
Homan and Morris have known each other for most of 30 years and when Mixed Doubles was launched in Canada, they began competing together. They have been very successful when they have had the chance to play together, winning some 30 events.
They did not compete in the 2017 Trials simply because Homan’s team had won the 4’s Trials and she was replaced by Kaitlyn Lawes. Lawes & Morris went on to win the Gold Medal in Pyeongchang.
While Homan’s team fell short of the medals in Korea, it must be remembered that she has succeeded at the international level in Asia – specifically in Beijing where she won the World Women’s in 2017. She will draw on both experiences in her return to the Olympics.
Coach Scott Pfeifer, speaking for Curling Canada made it clear that Homan-Morris were a logical choice noting that they have had a long and successful career together and that they both have very strong international and Olympic experience.
Morris & Homan will be on the ice in the next few days in a full training camp designed to get them ready for Beijing. Morris says it will be a different experience from the two previous Olympics where he won gold medals but he knows it will be a great experience. Clearly, they will go planning to soak it all in but also recognizing the need for dedication to best effort to bring back a medal.
While not providing details, Pfeifer says Curling Canada is putting in place contingency plans if it turns out, between now and departure day, that any member of any of the Canadian Olympic curling team contingent are unable to attend.
It was also made clear in the news conference that there will be discussion of timing before the next Olympic Trials process is defined. When this year’s Trials in Saskatoon and Portage were determined, the pandemic was still in the future. With the benefit of lessons learned, the potential for future wholesale cancellation has to be considered in both timing and the entire process.
Also for future discussion, the question of whether Canada’s 4-player team members should be excluded from Mixed Doubles.
“That’s how it is for this quadrennial,” Pfeifer said. “Curling Canada wants them to have full focus on the team game. If they play right to the Gold Medal game in Mixed Doubles, which we expect, it overlaps with the start of the teams’ competition. There is also the physical and mental toll. (For this quadrennial at least) we think it increases podium potential for all of the teams.”
That’s for next time, however. For this time, Rachel Homan and John Morris will be as prepared as they possibly can be when they play their first game at 7PM (CST), February 2 against Great Britain.