Canadian curling fans will have one more team to cheer for when the 2018 Winter Olympics get underway on Friday with the opening ceremonies in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
In fact, they can start cheering for them BEFORE the opening ceremonies as the inaugural Olympic mixed doubles competition begins on Thursday, with the duo of Kaitlyn Lawes (Winnipeg) and John Morris (Canmore, Alta.), with coach Jeff Stoughton, taking on Norway’s Kristen Moen Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten at the Gangneung Curling Centre at 9 a.m. local time (Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET).
Both Lawes and Morris will be attempting to become the first Canadian curlers ever to win two gold medals; they won previously with traditional four-player teams. Morris was the vice-skip with Kevin Martin’s gold-medal team at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, while Lawes was the vice-skip for Jennifer Jones’s gold-medal team in 2014 at Sochi, Russia.
Eight countries qualified for the Olympic mixed doubles tournament; the teams will play a round-robin draw Thursday through Sunday, with the top four teams going into the semifinals (1 vs. 4, 2 vs. 3) on Monday, Feb. 12, and the bronze- and gold-medal games on Tuesday, Feb. 13.
Once the mixed doubles competition is done, the traditional four-player men’s and women’s competitions will begin, with the Canadian teams skipped by Calgary’s Kevin Koe and Ottawa’s Rachel Homan seeking to defend the gold medals won by Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and Jones four years ago.
Ten men’s and 10 women’s teams will begin round-robin competition on Feb. 14, although Homan’s team (vice-skip Emma Miskew, second Joanne Courtney, lead Lisa Weagle, alternate Cheryl Bernard, team coach Adam Kingsbury, national coach Elaine Dagg-Jackson) won’t play its round-robin opener until Feb. 15 (9 a.m. local time; 7 p.m. ET on Feb. 14) against the host South Korean team skipped by EunJung Kim.
Team Koe also features players in search of their second Olympic gold medals. Vice-skip Marc Kennedy and lead Ben Hebert played second and lead respectively on Martin’s 2010 team. The Koe team is rounded out by second Brent Laing, alternate Scott Pfeifer, team coach John Dunn and national coach Rick Lang.
The Canadian men will open on Feb. 14 at 9 a.m. local time (Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. ET) against Italy’s Joel Retornaz, and will play again later the same day, at 8 p.m. local time (6 a.m. ET) against Great Britain’s Kyle Smith.
Round-robin play will conclude on Feb. 21, with the top four teams going into the semifinals on Friday, Feb. 23.
The men’s bronze-medal game is on Feb. 23 at 3:30 p.m local (1:30 a.m. ET), with the gold-medal game on Feb. 24 at 3:30 p.m local (1:30 a.m. ET).
The women’s bronze medal game is at 8 p.m. on Feb. 24 (6 a.m. ET), with the gold-medal game on Feb. 25 — the final day of the 2018 Winter Olympics — at 9 a.m. local (7 p.m. ET on Feb. 24).
- Feb. 7 (7 p.m.) — Canada vs. Norway (Kristin Moen Skaslien/Magnus Nedregotten)
- Feb. 8 (6 a.m.) — Canada vs. United States (Becca Hamilton/Matt Hamilton)
- Feb. 8 (6:30 p.m.) — Canada vs. China (Rui Wang/Dexin Ba)
- Feb. 8 (11:30 p.m.) — Canada vs. Finland (Oona Kauste/Tomi Rantamaki)
- Feb. 9 (7 p.m.) — Canada vs. Switzerland (Jenny Perret/Martin Rios)
- Feb. 10 (6 a.m.) — Canada vs. Olympic Athletes from Russia (Anastasia Bryzgalova/Aleksandr Krushelnitckii)
- Feb. 10 (7 p.m.) — Canada vs. South Korea (Hyeji Jang/Kijeong Lee)
- Feb. 13 (7 p.m.) — Canada vs. Italy (Joel Retornaz)
- Feb. 14 (6 a.m.) — Canada vs. Great Britain (Kyle Smith)
- Feb. 15 (midnight) — Canada vs. Norway (Thomas Ulsrud)
- Feb. 16 (6 a.m.) — Canada vs. South Korea (Chang-Min Kim)
- Feb. 17 (midnight) — Canada vs. Sweden (Niklas Edin)
- Feb. 17 (7 p.m.) — Canada vs. Switzerland (Peter de Cruz)
- Feb. 19 (midnight) — Canada vs. U.S.A. (John Shuster)
- Feb. 19 (7 p.m.) — Canada vs. Japan (Yusuke Morozumi)
- Feb. 21 (midnight) — Canada vs. Denmark (Rasmus Stjerne)
- Feb. 14 (7 p.m.) — Canada vs. South Korea (EunJung Kim)
- Feb. 15 (6 a.m.) — Canada vs. Sweden (Anna Hasselborg)
- Feb. 16 (midnight) — Canada vs. Denmark (Madeleine Dupont)
- Feb. 17 (6 a.m.) — Canada vs. U.S.A. (Nina Roth)
- Feb. 18 (midnight) — Canada vs. Switzerland (Silvana Tirinzoni)
- Feb. 18 (7 p.m.) — Canada vs. Japan (Satsuki Fujisawa)
- Feb. 20 (midnight) — Canada vs. China (Bingyu Wang)
- Feb. 20 (7 p.m.) — Canada vs. Great Britain (Eve Muirhead(
- Feb. 21 (6 a.m.) — Canada vs. Olympic Athletes from Russia (Victoria Moiseeva)
Since curling was re-introduced as a medal sport in 1998 at Nagano, Japan, Canadian teams have reached the podium at each Olympics.
Canada is the three-time defending men’s gold-medallist, with Jacobs winning in 2014, Martin in 2010 and Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., having won gold in 2006 at Torino, Italy.
Prior to that, Martin won the silver medal in 2002 at Salt Lake City, and Mike Harris (Oakville, Ont.) took silver in 1998 at Nagano.
Canadian women’s teams have won two gold medals — Jones in 2014 and Regina’s Sandra Schmirler in 1998 at Nagano — to go along with a silver — Calgary’s Cheryl Bernard four years ago in Vancouver — and two bronze — Calgary’s Shannon Kleibrink in 2006 at Torino, and Kelley Law of New Westminster, B.C., in 2002 at Salt Lake City.