It was exactly the two teams everyone expected to be there playing for the first ever Olympic mixed doubles gold early Tuesday morning. Two former gold medalists from curling crazy Canada facing off against the defending World Champions from Switzerland.
But, like they’ve done all tournament, Canada’s Kaitlin Lawes and John Morris once again dominated, and brought home another gold medal for Canada with a 10-3 victory over Switzerland’s Jenny Perret and Martin Rios.
Lawes and Morris didn’t start playing together until just a month before coming to PyeongChang, and had only 30 minutes of practice with one-another before the Canadian Olympic Trials. But the duo played with the poise of curlers who had been together for decades, dominating the competition all week to the tune of 60 goals scored to only 30 allowed. In their eight wins, only one team played a full eight end game. Lawes and Morris forced conceded ends in their final seven games for a total of 11 ends conceded by the other team.
"It's surreal, to be honest. I don't think even the first one has sunk in and I don't think it ever will,” Lawes said. “But it's just a dream come true to represent our country on the world's biggest stage and to be able to bring this home for Canada is so special."
"I don't think it has sunk in yet, but you don't have a lot of chances to go to the Olympics, especially being from Canada,” Morris added. "The curlers from Canada, we have a lot of depth there. It feels fantastic, we have a lot of support back home and to be able to help our team out with a gold medal and to be able to bring it back to all our friends and family and all our support back home, it just feels amazing.”
Canada was forced to settle for two points in the first end, and gave up two right back to Switzerland in the second after Rios had a double takeout for the Swiss, and Lawes was unable to respond with a double of her own.
The slight mistake in the second though was the only sign of weakness the Canadians would show all day. Switzerland had a shot go wide left in the third to set up a big end for Lawes and Morris, and they capitalized, knocking the lone Swiss yellow rock out of the house on the hammer throw to score four points and take a commanding 6-2 lead early.
"Kaitlyn made some dandy shots that really put the heat on them and that four in the third end was huge,” Morris said. “They gave us a tough match, we expected a tough match and that semi-final was a battle. We're just happy to be on top here."
Switzerland went with the power play option in the fourth end, but were forced to settle for just a single point to bring the deficit to three points at the midway point.
"They were the better team… I just couldn't bring my best game today. I don't know why just yet. I have to figure it out,” Rios said. "They deserved to win, they are the better team. Jenny and I will regroup and we will be back."
Canada continued to build on their lead in the fifth with two more points. Lawes’s hammer throw was just short of scoring a potential third point, but the Canadians were still able to take an 8-3 lead as chants of “Go Canada Go!” rang out through the Gangneung Curling Centre.
And go they did, to two more stolen points in the sixth for the ultimate win. Switzerland had the chance to score possibly four to make it interesting, but Lawes and Morris again were able to make the perfect throws to squeeze onto the button and kill any chance of a Swiss comeback.
"I was a little bit surprised,” Lawes said of Switzerland conceding. “We were anticipating playing eight ends down to the last rock. All the kudos to them. They are such a talented team and represented their country so well."
Switzerland finishes with a silver medal, just the second silver medal in curling for the country all time.
"It's three years of work that we put into this and it's hard to accept it now,” Rios said. “There were some really hard moments and there were some really nice moments. Everything was worth it… In the end we take home a medal, but we will take a lot more, all the memories, all the moments we had to go through. Good moments and bad moments."
Canada continues to be the only country to medal in each of the Olympics curling has been played. The country has now won a total of six curling golds.
"I think this game of mixed doubles is just fantastic. It's something that everyone back in Canada should try. It's fast-paced, athletic, a lot of fun and the beer still tastes just as good after the game,” Morris said. "I think that it's here to stay and I can't wait to see how well it does in Canada."
"I really wanted to enjoy every second of it," Lawes said.
CAN 2 0 4 0 2 2 X X - 10
SUI 0 2 0 1 0 0 X X - 3