Since curling had full Olympic medal status at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Team Canada has reached the podium every time in men’s and women’s curling. At the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones made Olympic history. She became the first female skip to go undefeated at a single Olympic Winter Games.
At the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, Jones’s third, Kaitlyn Lawes will represent Canada in the new sport of mixed doubles curling. She will be alongside John Morris, who was the third for Kevin Martin when Canada won a gold medal in men’s curling at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. In an interesting statistic, Morris was part of the very first curling team that went undefeated at an Olympic Winter Games.
2018 Olympic Curling Preview
Due to their experience in traditional curling, Lawes and Morris are the gold medal favourites in mixed doubles curling. Morris also has a wealth of mixed doubles curling experience. Prior to winning the Canadian Olympic Mixed Doubles Curling Trials in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba earlier this month, Morris reached the final of the 2017 Canadian Mixed Doubles Curling Championships with Rachel Homan. So why wasn’t Homan in Portage La Prairie? Well, because she already won the Canadian Olympic Curling Trials in women’s curling in Ottawa in December.
Homan and Kevin Koe of Calgary, Alberta are the heavy favourites to win a gold medal for Canada in women’s and men’s curling. Homan was a perfect 11-0 during the 2017 Women’s World Curling Championship in Beijing and outscored her opponents 88-51 in the process. Canada then beat Russia 7-3 in the 1-2 page playoff game and then beat Russia again 8-3 in the gold medal game.
Koe has skipped Canada to two gold medals at the World Curling Championships—in 2010 in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy and in 2016 in Basel, Switzerland. Two years ago, Koe was dominant. He had a record of 10-1 in the round robin, with his only loss coming to Niklas Edin of Sweden by a score of 4-3. Canada then beat Denmark twice by a score of 5-3 in the page playoff format to win the gold medal.
When it comes to the sport of curling, it is not a slam dunk that Canada will win Olympic gold. At the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Kevin Martin was heavy with his final stone in the 10th end and forced Norway’s Pal Trulsen to steal a point and a 7-6 win in the men’s gold medal game. At the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, the flu bug went through Shannon Kleibrink’s curling team from Calgary and the Canadian women had to settle for the bronze medal behind Sweden and Switzerland. Then at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Calgary’s Cheryl Bernard had a 6-4 lead on Sweden’s Anette Norberg in the women’s gold medal game, only to see Sweden come back with two points in the 10th end and a stolen point in the 11th.
There are many other strong contenders who will challenge Canada at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang. In mixed doubles curling, Jenny Perret and Martin Rios are the reigning world champions. They defeated Reid Carruthers of Winnipeg and Joanne Courtney of Edmonton 6-5 in the gold medal game in Lethbridge this past April.
In men’s curling, the field includes two-time world champion Niklas Edin of Sweden, 2014 world champion Thomas Ulsrud of Norway, reigning world championship silver medalist Rasmus Stjerne of Denmark, and two-time world championship bronze medalist Peter de Cruz of Switzerland. In women’s curling, Homan’s top competitors will be 2015 Grand Slam of Curling Tour Challenge champion Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland, 2013 world champion Eve Muirhead of Great Britain and two-time European silver medalist Anna Hasselborg of Sweden.
Projected Medal Standings:
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