Jim Morris

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Jim Morris is a blogger for Yahoo! Canada Sports

  • VANCOUVER - It took years for Mellisa Hollingsworth to realize the humble roots she once was embarrassed about actually gave her the strength and conviction to become an Olympic athlete.

    The skeleton racer from Eckville, Alta., was raised by her father on a ranch surrounded by horses and hanging out with cowboys. As a teenager attending basketball camps and track meets in the city, she would sometimes be teased.

    "I was the young girl that was a little bit embarrassed by my roots," Hollingsworth said during a recent Canadian Olympic Committee athlete's summit. "I was the only country kid. I would get a little bit embarrassed when they asked me where I was from."

    When she reached her mid-20's Hollingsworth started to understand the values and principles her father instilled in her.

    "I've been desperately trying to get back to my roots ever since and have never been prouder to be that ranch girl," she said.

    Growing up Hollingsworth's family did not have much, but her father taught his daughter

    Read More »from Humble ranch roots helped shape skeleton racer Mellisa Hollingsworth’s career
  • Sweden's Eva Lund during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics (The Canadian Press)Sweden's Eva Lund during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics (The Canadian Press)

    VICTORIA - Two-time Olympic gold medallist Eva Lund won't be throwing any rocks at this week's Ford World Men’s Curling Championship, but she will have a hand in any Swedish success.

    The 41-year-old from Stockholm is one of Sweden's coaches. Her job is to ensure skip Niklas Edin and his team get mentally prepared for each game.

    Lund's role is part sports psychologist, part calming influence. She mends frayed nerves and stabilizes confidence.

    "I don't get involved that much in tactics," said Lund, who was a third on Anette Norberg's rink. "They handle that for themselves.

    "For me, it's to work on how we want to perform out there, the attitude we want to have and how to use our energy the right way."

    An 11-game round-robin can be a grind physically and mentally. By mid week the mind can be as tired as the muscles are sore. Lund makes sure Edin's team of third Sebastian Kraupp, second Fredrik Lindberg and lead Viktor Kjaell stay focused and sharp.

    "You focus on the small things, the

    Read More »from Ford World Men’s Curling Championship: Gold medallist Eva Lund builds mental toughness for Sweden
  • Canadian curling team member Ryan Fry.

    VICTORIA _ A chat over some beers resulted in Brad Jacobs adding the final piece to his curling team.

    The 2012 Tim Hortons Brier in Saskatoon was a disaster for Jacobs' Northern Ontario crew and Brad Gushue's team from Newfoundland and Labrador. Both rinks struggled to 5-6 records and missed the playoffs.

    Near the end of the week Ryan Fry, then a third on Gushue's rink, was licking his wounds with Jacobs' rink over a few refreshments.

    "It was a horrible year for both of us," Fry said during this week's Ford World Men's Curling Championship. "We were just talking that, if it ever happened, I wouldn't mind curling with you guys.

    "It just so happened me and Brad Gushue decided to part ways. I gave Brad (Jacobs) a call. It didn't take very long. The only thing that took a little bit of time was getting out of my job and selling my house in Newfoundland."

    In their first full season together Fry has played an important role in Jacobs' rink winning the Brier and going unbeaten in their first

    Read More »from Ford World Men’s Curling Championships: Ryan Fry the missing piece to Jacbos’ rink puzzle
  • Scottish team third Tom Brewster.

    VICTORIA _ Scotland is doing something very different at this year's Ford World Men's Curling Championship. The jury is still deliberating on whether it's genius or folly.

    The first thing the Scots have done is have insert David Murdoch, the two-time world champion, as the team's skip. Tom Brewster, who skipped the team to back-to-back world championship silver medals, is playing third. Scotland is also using a five-man rotation which means every player, with the exception of Murdoch, swap positions or sits out a game.

    "I want everyone to be ready to play," said coach Soeren Gran. "We are going to do the first eight games on the rotation schedule. Then we will have to see who is going to play for the last three games in the round robin."

    Gran admits that for many curling traditionalists his approach is as alien as having all NHL games played four-on-four, or adding a fourth down to the CFL.

    "I don't think I have too many people who are behind me about this," said Gran, who represented

    Read More »from Ford World Men’s Curling Championship: Jury still undecided if Scottish plan is genuis or folly
  • Team Canada skip Brad Jacobs (The Canadian Press)Team Canada skip Brad Jacobs (The Canadian Press)

    VICTORIA - For the last four years gaining an Olympic berth has been the sole focus for many of the world's top curlers.

    Attempting to qualify for the Sochi Games has kept some curlers in the sport. Not going to Russia could end a few careers.

    The Olympics are the Super Bowl of curling. Yet, just a few weeks after all the excitement and world-wide attention the sport will receive at the Olympics, the men's and women's world championships will be held. Isn't that a little like following the Academy Awards with a festival of the top Latvian movies?

    Next year's Olympics will run from Feb. 7-23. The women's world championship start March 15 in Saint John, N.B. The men's world championship begin March 29 in Beijing.

    "It kind of seems a little ridiculous," said Brad Jacobs, who defeated China's Rui Liu 7-6 Saturday to give Canada its first victory at the World Men's Curling Championship.

    "A lot of those teams, especially from the other countries, will be going straight from the Olympics to

    Read More »from World Men’s Curling Championship: Olympic shine too bright for next year’s world curling championships
  • Carol Huynh. (The Canadian Press)Olympic gold medallist Carol Huynh has wrestled many tough opponents during her career. The former Hazelton, B.C., native might now face her biggest challenge when she goes to the mat with the bureaucracy of the International Olympic Committee.

    Huynh has been named chair of a Wrestling Canada committee which hopes to keep wrestling within the core Olympic program. Like the bad guy in television wrestling who pulls a set of brass knuckles out his shorts, the IOC blindsided most everyone when they voted last month to drop wrestling from the 2020 Olympic Games to make room for another sport.

    The most direct avenue for Huynh would be to put IOC president Jacques Rogge in a head lock and not release him until he admits his colleague made a big mistake. Instead, she and the other five committee members will follow a more diplomatic path of developing and implementing a strategy that ensures wrestling remains in the Olympics.

    "I am excited and thrilled to take on these new duties,” Huynh, who

    Read More »from Gold medallist Carol Huynh goes to the mat with IOC bureaucracy to keep wrestling in Games
  • Ontario skip Glenn Howard hates the Page system (Reuters).

    EDMONTON — The Page playoff always ranked just a little below root canal surgery for Ontario skip Glenn Howard.

    His distaste wasn't improved following his 7-6 loss to Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton in the 1-2 Page playoff game Saturday at the Tim Hortons Brier.

    Leading 6-4, Howard missed a double-takeout attempt in the 10th end, which allowed Stoughton to score three points and take the victory.

    "Honestly, I threw a pretty good shot," said the defending world champion. "The thing jumped, went crazy and we couldn't hold it.

    "That's not a great feeling. I felt we had the game. I had a shot to win that wasn't that tough. The bottom line is I missed."

    Stoughton advances directly to Sunday evening's final. Howard wasn't impressed he now has to play in a semifinal game early Sunday morning. A switch to daylight saving time will cost him an hour of sleep.

    "We have to go back and play the semifinal at 8:30 a.m., which is brilliant," he said.

    Howard is a smart man but he's never been able to figure

    Read More »from Tim Hortons Brier: Losing playoff game doesn’t improve Glenn Howard’s dislike for Page system
  • Alberta skip Kevin Martin (The Canadian Press)Alberta skip Kevin Martin (The Canadian Press)

    EDMONTON - There was nothing could do but watch his fate be determined on another sheet of ice.

    The veteran Alberta skip saw his dreams of a fifth Tim Hortons Brier title disappear when Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton delivered a last-rock draw to the button for a 6-5, extra-end victory over B.C. Wins by Manitoba and Northern Ontario in the Brier's final round-robin games eliminated Alberta from the playoffs with a 7-4 record.

    Martin's playoff hopes had been on life support since he started the week losing four of his first five games. The plug was finally pulled Friday night.

    "We did the best we could," said Martin, a former world champion and Olympic gold medallist. "We put ourselves in that position."

    Questions are now swirling about the future of Martin and his rink of John Morris, Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert.

    "We know how to win," said Kennedy, the veteran second. "We know what it takes. We know you can have an off week.

    "I think it's been a little bit blown out of portion how

    Read More »from Tim Hortons Brier: Missing playoffs raises questions about the future of Kevin Martin’s rink
  • John Morris.

    EDMONTON -- It's no secret some NHL first-round picks struggle when they, to quote Tom Cochrane, make it to the big league.

    "A lot of people think you can win a world junior and you are going to get right in there and be one of the top men's teams," said Geoff Walker, the lead on Brad Gushue's Newfoundland and Labrador rink at this year's Tim Hortons Brier.

    "Only a few teams have done that. You look at a lot of the other junior champions and there's not a lot that are still at the top."

    The 27-year-old Walker won a world junior title in 2006 as a member of the Charley Thomas rink from Alberta. Thomas would repeat as world champion in 2007 with a team that contained Brock Virtue, who is skipping Saskatchewan at this year's Brier.

    Thomas recently returned to curling after taking five years off.

    Saskatchewan lead D.J. Kidby was a second with the Kyle George rink that won the 2005 world juniors.

    "It's kind of a different game," said Kidby, 25. "The strategy is a whole lot different.

    "You

    Read More »from Tim Hortons Brier: The jump from junior curling harder than some players expect
  • Tim Hortons Brier: Losing makes for long week at Brier

    Nova Scotia skip Paul Flemming's had a rough week at the Brier (Reuters).

    EDMONTON -- Some teams travel to the Tim Hortons Brier knowing deep in their hearts their chances of winning are slim and none.

    No one goes expecting not to win a game.

    It's been a very long week for Paul Flemming's team from Nova Scotia. Heading into Thursday night's draw Flemming was 0-8 and the only team at the Brier without a victory.

    It's an empty feeling going to the big show and having nothing to celebrate. It's like standing in the corner at the high school dance and watching everyone else have fun.

    "It's very difficult," said the soft spoken Nova Scotia skip. "Sometimes you have to remind yourself there's a lot of teams back home that would love to be here."

    For the teams on the bottom rung of the standing's ladder any hopes of making the playoffs have vanished like a keg of beer at a fraternity party. Besides Flemming, Eddie MacKenzie of P.E.I., is 1-8. B.C. skip Andrew Bilesky, a 29-year-old from New Westminster, B.C., collected his first Brier victory Thursday with an 8-7

    Read More »from Tim Hortons Brier: Losing makes for long week at Brier

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