Canada's Morris and Lawes finding their groove in Olympic mixed curling
Canada's Kaitlyn Lawes, center, and John Morris, right, embrace as United States Becca Hamilton passes by after their mixed doubles curling match at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, February 8, 2018 8:38PM EST
Last Updated Friday, February 9, 2018 7:27AM EST
GANGNEUNG, Korea, Republic Of -- Canadian mixed doubles curlers John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes were finding their groove at the Pyeongchang Olympics on Friday.
After splitting their first two games of the tournament Thursday, the duo improved to 3-1 with a pair of victories on Day 2.
Morris and Lawes opened the day with a 10-4 win over China's Rui Wang and Dexin Ba, then routed Finland 8-2.
The Finns kept the game close until the fifth end when Morris and Lawes collected five, forcing Tomi Rantamaeki and Oona Kauste to shake hands.
Morris said he was feeling more at home by Friday. While both Morris and Lawes are Olympic gold medallists in the traditional men's and women's team events, they only became a doubles team in January when they won the trials.
"The ice today was really good," said Morris. "We're starting to get a bit of momentum and feel a bit more comfortable.
Kelly and Lawes are in a logjam atop the standings with Norway, Russia and Switzerland also at 3-1.
Morris and Lawes earned a hard-fought 6-4 win over Matt and Becca Hamilton of the United States in Thursday's evening draw after dropping their opener 9-6 to Norway's Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten.
Canadian coach Jeff Stoughton said he expects continued improvement.
"I think you're going to see more and more teams playing better because they're getting more comfortable with the ice and where to put the broom, so it's good to see that our team is catching on to that as well," he said.
Traditional men's and women's curling has been at the Olympics since 1998, but mixed doubles -- a faster and sometimes seemingly more chaotic incarnation of the sport -- is making its debut at the 2018 Winter Games.
Each team is comprised of one male and one female, and there are six stones in play instead of the usual eight. Games are eight ends instead of 10.
"I think it's fantastic. It's an outstanding game," said Morris. "I love the fast pace of it, I love the athleticism of it. It is already a hit in the rest of the world, and I think it's only a matter of time before Canada really embraces it and loves it."
Canada has made the mixed doubles podium just twice at the world championships, grabbing a silver in 2017 and a bronze in 2009.
Ottawa's Morris won Olympic gold in 2010 playing third for Kevin Martin, while Winnipeg's Lawes topped the podium in 2014 as vice for Jennifer Jones.
Eight teams are taking part in mixed curling at the Olympics, with the top-4 qualifying for the medal round.