2-time gold medallist John Morris joins Team Kevin Koe for Olympic push

CBC

One of Canada's most decorated curlers is joining forces with Kevin Koe.

John Morris, 41, will play second for the Calgary-based team for at least the next 18 months in the lead-up to the Olympic Trials in 2021.

Team Koe made the announcement Tuesday, a day after revealing they were parting ways with Colton Flasch.

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Morris is a two-time Olympic champion, having won gold at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics as a third for Kevin Martin. He then won the first Olympic gold in mixed doubles alongside Kaitlyn Lawes at the 2018 Games.

"Having the opportunity to play with Team Koe, who are good friends of mine and an already exceptional curling team, is something I'm very excited about," Morris said in a statement released by the team.

"We're thrilled to add a player with such an impressive resume to our lineup as we focus our goal on the 2022 Olympics," Koe said.

Associated Press
Associated Press

To go with his Olympic titles, Morris is also a junior national champion, two-time Brier champion and a world champion.

He most recently served as a team alternate at the 2020 Brier in Kingston for Team Ontario. The married father of two works as a firefighter outside of Calgary.

For the past two seasons Morris had stepped away from the traditional game, focusing his attention on mixed doubles. He was last on Jim Cotter's British Columbia-based team.

"After taking the last couple of years off men's [curling] to focus on my new family and mixed doubles, I feel refreshed and rejuvenated for another two-year run Olympic run in the men's game," Morris said. "My competitive fire is starting to burn again and I believe the sky is the limit for us if we put the hard work in that is needed."

After a disappointing Brier appearance, Koe, lead Ben Hebert and third B.J. Neufeld felt they needed to make a change. The team failed to make it into the playoffs — a year earlier they were Brier champions and won silver at the world championship.

"This year we faltered a bit and we just thought if we really wanted to become the No. 1 team in the world again and compete for world championships and most importantly the Olympics, we had to improve," Hebert told CBC Sports.

With the clock ticking, the team felt they needed to make a move fast.

"If you're not trying to get better and build then I think you're dying," said Hebert, who played seven seasons alongside Morris with Kevin Martin's rink.

Morris has also played previously with Koe, skipping a foursome out of Alberta for three years in the early 2000s.

Team Homan adds Sarah Wilkes

Less than a week after the announcement Lisa Weagle was no longer a member of Rachel Homan's foursome, the Ottawa-based team has announced Sarah Wilkes as her replacement.

Wilkes, formerly a third for Chelsea Carey's Alberta team, will now play second for Homan.

"She is a terrific curler and we're thrilled to have someone with her pedigree and join our team at second stones," Team Homan said in a statement posted online.

Wilkes, 29, won last year's Scotties against Homan. She spent most of her junior career in Ontario, having been born in Toronto, before moving to Alberta following university.

Weagle said she was was blindsided last Thursday when Homan phoned to tell her of the change.

"I wasn't part of the discussions and it was a decision that was taken by the team," Weagle told The Canadian Press.

Over 11 years, the foursome won three Scotties championships, one world championship and represented Canada at the 2018 Olympics.

Just a day later, Wilkes announced she would be leaving Carey's team — a year after they won a Scotties title together and represented Canada at the World Championship in March 2019.

"It was an honour taking the ice with you every time," Wilkes posted to the team's social media account. "This is not an easy decision."

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