Curlers John Morris and Rachel Homan have been picked to represent Canada in mixed doubles at the Beijing Olympics.
Curling Canada consulted with the Canadian Olympic Committee and Own the Podium before the announcement was made on Thursday morning.
The cancellation of the mixed doubles trials forced the federation to select athletes rather than have representatives determined via traditional playdowns. Curling Canada cited travel risks and positive COVID-19 cases among athletes for its decision to scrub last month’s event in Portage la Prairie, Man.
“John and I are eager to get to Beijing and make Canada proud,” Homan said in a release. “We know these are difficult circumstances, and we truly appreciate the faith being shown in us by Curling Canada.”
Canada is joined by fellow headliners Sweden, Great Britain, Switzerland, Norway and the United States in the 10-team Olympic mixed doubles field.
Preliminary-round play begins Feb. 2 at the Ice Cube in Beijing, two days before the opening ceremony.
Homan and Morris have won four of their last six mixed doubles competitions together and 45 of their last 49 games as a duo overall.
“Rachel and I have played a lot of mixed doubles together over the years with the dream of playing for Canada at the Olympics,” Morris said. “We can’t wait to get over there and give it our best. We know it’s a tough field, but we’ve worked extremely hard this season and we’ll be fighting hard for gold in Beijing.”
The Canadian team nomination process was made more difficult by the fact the top two teams in the national mixed doubles rankings were ruled out since they already qualified in four-player team events.
Unlike many other curling federations, Curling Canada doesn’t allow curlers to play in both disciplines at the same Games.
The top two duos in the Canadian rankings – Jocelyn Peterman and Brett Gallant and second-ranked Jennifer Jones and Brent Laing – were not eligible because of the rule.
Peterman and Jones booked their tickets for Beijing in November by winning the four-player women’s team trials in Saskatoon. Gallant won the men’s title with skip Brad Gushue.
The selection of the fifth-ranked Homan and Morris, both originally from Ottawa, was no doubt made easier by their impressive resumes, which include plenty of international and Olympic experience.
Both players have won a world title and are three-time national champions.
Morris, 43, won Olympic gold with skip Kevin Martin at the 2010 Vancouver Games. He also took mixed doubles gold at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games with Kaitlyn Lawes in the discipline’s Olympic debut.
Homan, 32, represented Canada in the women’s team event in South Korea but did not reach the podium. She was replaced by Lawes for the mixed doubles trials after locking up the team berth.
Other pairings believed to be contenders for Beijing included Nancy Martin and Tyrel Griffith (ranked third in Canada) along with Lisa Weagle and John Epping (No. 4). Weagle, a member of Jones’s five-player rink, was eligible since she’s listed as an alternate in team play.
Kerri Einarson teamed with Gushue to win the Canadian mixed doubles title last season in the Calgary bubble.
She was planning to play the trials with Brad Jacobs, who lost the team final to Gushue. Laing, meanwhile, was set to play with Selena Njegovan.
Morris, a three-time Canadian mixed doubles medallist, won silver with Homan at the 2017 national playdowns. They ran the table at the Qualico Mixed Doubles Classic last fall, beating Jones/Laing in the semi-final and Peterman/Gallant in the final.
Scott Pfeifer was nominated as a national coach for the Games.