Olympics-Curling-Canada’s Morris putting Australian connection aside for title defence – Metro US

Olympics-Curling-Canada’s Morris putting Australian connection aside for title defence

FILE PHOTO: Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics
FILE PHOTO: Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics

BEIJING (Reuters) – Curling will kick off the 24th edition of the Winter Olympics on Wednesday, two days before the opening ceremony, when the mixed doubles competition begins at the “Ice Cube” National Aquatics Centre in Beijing.

Canada’s mixed doubles champion John Morris will team up with Rachel Homan, who skipped the women’s team in 2018, as the sport’s traditional powerhouses aim to retain their title in Beijing.

Morris, who also won gold in the men’s event at Vancouver in 2010, coached Australia’s Tahli Gill and Dean Hewett towards Olympic history. The pair will become the first curlers from their country to compete at the Games.

“I’ve had a wonderful relationship with the Aussies, they have come a really long way in curling,” Morris said. “But I’ve let them know that our ride together is essentially over until after the Olympics.”

Gill and Hewett, who will begin their campaign against the United States, are hoping their presence on the Olympic stage will see the construction of a standalone curling rink in Australia.

“It’s great for Australian curling. Hopefully, we’ll get a dedicated rink built out of this,” said Hewett, who would practice his sweeping in his kitchen back home in addition to training on skating and ice hockey rinks.

“That’s one of our biggest goals from it. We’re just looking forward for what’s to come for Australia.”

Reigning world champions Bruce Mouat and Jennifer Dodds of Britain will be among the favourites after winning last year’s world championship representing their native Scotland.

Mouat, who skipped his rink to gold at last year’s European championships and silver at the world championships, will also compete in the men’s competition in the second week of the Games and provide Britain with another shot at Olympic glory.

“To actually be getting to the point where we’re seen as a really good medal opportunity, not only in the men’s game but also potentially in mixed doubles, it is just so exciting. I’m trying to keep my head out of the clouds,” he said.

Pyeongchang silver medallists Jenny Perret and Martin Rios of Switzerland along with third-placed Norwegian pair Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten are also in the mix, promising a competitive field for the event’s second outing at the Games.

(Reporting by Hritika Sharma; Editing by Christian Radnedge)