An Olympic dream moved a step closer to reality for John Morris Saturday, as he handed his former skip a ticket home. And Kevin Martin said he had no one to blame but himself.
Morris and Brad Jacobs will square off in the men’s final Sunday at the Olympic trials, while Jennifer Jones and Sherry Middaugh were set to play Saturday evening in the women’s final.
“Either my first or second one in six, that was the game-breaker,” said Martin. “We force them to one there, we’ve got all the momentum going into seven.”
Instead, Martin lost 7-5, letting Morris score a deuce in six and another in eight, then losing the hammer in nine when he failed to blank on an open hit.
It was a sweet win for Morris, who took over as skip this year on Jim Cotter’s B.C. rink with the Olympics in his sights. Cotter moved to third, although he still throws fourth rocks.
“It feels great, it’s been a real grind of a year . . . We seem to be playing our best curling right now and I’m just real proud of the guys,” he said.
He gave full marks to Cotter. Martin said he was surprised at the shots Cotter made.
As the strategist, Morris watched his former skip all week and put a rock in the one spot in nine where Martin had nosed one earlier in the round robin.
Martin, who was trying for his fourth trip to the Olympics, kept his composure but said this will be his last Olympic Trials.
A frustrated Marc Kennedy, Martin’s second, couldn’t hide his feelings as he smashed is broom into shards in the hallway after he left the ice.
Lead Ben Hebert said Martin kept them in the hunt all week (they lost only once to Jacobs).
“Kevin was the best player here all week, standing on his head just to keep us in it, that’s the reason we were 6-1, and he didn’t play good today,” he said, adding that he isn’t giving up on a return trip to the Olympics, after winning gold with Martin in 2010.
“The game should have been over after five or six and we let them off the hook.”
Morris, who was also part of that 2010 gold-medal team, said they knew they weren’t favoured to win.
“We didn’t mind the underdog tag and we knew what we were capable of.”
As for the future of the team if they don’t beat Jacobs Sunday, Cotter said that remains up in the air.
“We’ve talked about the future and who knows,” he said. “We’re focusing on this moment here and now and what our game plan is going to be tomorrow. We’re just going to go out and try and play our best game.”
Their best game will be needed against Brier winner Jacobs, who swept the field in the round robin, handing Martin his only loss, to move directly to the final.
“We just need to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” said Jacobs, who practised Saturday.
“Everyone is throwing the rock great on this team . . . We just need to come out and perform like we’ve performed all week and let the chips fall where they may.”