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Morris announces curling sabbatical – perhaps

No Mo Johnny… unless…

John Morris has spoken.

The finalist from both the Brier and the Canadian Olympic Trials has issued a statement today on his immediate curling future, and here it is:

This ad appears in our April issue

After a lot of thought and deliberation, I have decided to take a step back from the game of curling next year.

I had the tremendous pleasure of playing with three great, genuine teammates in Jim Cotter, Tyrel Griffith and Rick Sawatsky as we made it farther than I think anyone would have predicted for a team playing its first year together. You were all amazing, as was our coach, Pat Ryan, and our alternates Jody Epp and Jason Gunnlaugson.

I am extremely proud of our squad for what we accomplished, and would like to thank my guys for helping me recover my passion and heart for the game of curling, and for providing me with one of the most memorable years in my career.

I will be taking some time off to pursue an educational course that I’ve been wanting to take for a few years now, as well as to secure a career in the fire service. If our team happens to be awarded the default Team Canada berth at the Brier next year, then I will consider coming back to play a light schedule.

Thank you to all our true fans, friends, sponsors and to all of our families for being there every inch of the way and showing us the support we needed to almost make the improbable happen!


[This Team Morris advertisement appears in the April 2014 issue of The Curling News; click on the image to increase viewing size]
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Winnipeg 2013: Game of the week

Jacobs versus Morris is bigger than you know

by George Karrys

“They all want us to lose, right?”   “That’s right.”

At 2:30pm ET today, less than an hour from this time of posting, defending Brier champ and world silverado Brad Jacobs (4-0) takes on defending Olympic champion third John Morris John Morris (3-1) at the Canadian Olympic Trials.

You should know the storylines.

Both came out of the last-gasp Trials qualifier in Kitchener a couple of weeks ago.

Both are in the top men’s three, and there are only three teams that will make the playoffs.

Both squads scream youth and vitality, and represent a continuing and definitive changing of the guard from the legendary Kevin Martin – Glenn Howard – Jeff Stoughton power trio.

Three of these eight guys – Jacobs, his second E.J. Harnden and Morris – are super-hunk models in the hottest curling product in the world right now, the 2014 Men of Curling Calendar.

Morris, the veteran, has been filling the curling souls of his British Columbia teammates with unprecedented confidence.

Jacobs’ 2012 lineup changes – Ryan Fry in from Newfoundland to play third, Harnden now at second – have driven the Soo squad into the stratosphere.

This should be a great show, which Canadian fans can watch live on TSN. But there is far more at play here, enough to arguably make this clash the official Game Of The Week… even acknowledging the upcoming Martin/Morris tilt in the final round-robin draw.

If Morris loses, a number of things happen:

• Jacobs is guaranteed a spot in any tiebreakers or the semifinal…

• The fallen titans of last night’s heartbreakers, Howard and Stoughton, are still alive…

• Even Kevin Koe, 0-4 and widely written off with Olympic dreams dashed, ain’t out of it.

Now just let that sink in for a moment.

Oh, my. Oh, my.

[The Curling News photo copyright ® by Anil Mungal – click on image to increase viewing size]

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OTR Curling Recap

Well. That was quite a show, eh?

And that’s quite a photo from yesterday, eh? We like it because John Morris looks funny. Sorry, Johnny (click to zoom in).

You can watch the latest all-curling edition of TSN’s Off The Record on the OTR webpage, located here. Just click on the video player on the right, and you’re off and running.

You can also view the various segments through this page.

It starts with host Michael Landsberg and defending Casino Rama Skins champ Randy Ferbey (Up Front, 4:52). Some highlights:

Ferbey on arch-rival Kevin Martin: “I think he thinks too much of his team and not the sport, and other teams in general… as curlers we’re trying to grow the game and I think Kevin is too much into himself.”

Ferbey on teammate David Nedohin‘s injury: “Dave was working out, doing some squats and popped his S1 in his back, so he’s out indefinitely.”

Middaugh on his new teammate: “Back when I was playing with the Howard family I thought Randy was just another one of those western curlers that all they could do is throw it hard down the ice.”

Middaugh on tomorrow’s battle against Glenn Howard: “It’s been quote a while since (Glenn has) beaten a men’s team at the Skins.”

Randy on his curling future: “I feel I’ve got lots to offer; I’m not gonna quit until I have to.”

The show itself then followed, in two segments (7:31 and 5:21) and there was… much teasing.

Landsberg teased Murdoch about Tom Brewster; about Canada deserving two Olympic curling teams; about hockey; about his accent (eh?) and about winning silver in Vancouver (!!).

Landsberg (and Ferbey) teased Howard and Martin third Johnny Mo about the Brier being tougher to win than a Grand Slam.

And so on.

Anything else? Heck, yes.

Stay tuned to the video player for a highly amusing Next Question segment with Glenn Howard (4:17) and, finally, Really Off The Record boasting a final 4:52 of five-way banter to wrap it up.

As for the questions submitted by our faithful readers? A couple of them wriggled their way onto the show – well done peeps!

The Casino Rama Curling Skins Game gets underway tomorrow at 1:00pm ET in Rama, Ontario… and is televised live on The Sports Network, in High-Definition.

Bonus trivia question: at the very end of Really Off The Record, a specific word was bleeped out. What is interesting is that Landsberg then wondered aloud if, in fact, the word would be bleeped out during the editing process.

What was the word?

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Curling Skins Questions?

Tomorrow, Thursday January 14, is Curling Skins Day on the TSN talk show Off The Record (OTR).

Once again, the four skips taking part in this weekend’s Casino Rama Skins Game will be in the hotseats for a half-hour of jabbering, laughing, frowning and finger-pointing.

Make that three skips and one third.

Glenn Howard, Randy Ferbey and Scotland’s David Murdoch will be there. But Kevin Martin‘s chair will be taken by third man John Morris, which could make things quite interesting.

Remember, ace TCN blogger Margo Weber declared that Johnny Mo is going to be a star in Vancouver. Does that star begin ascending on Thursday?

Anyway, a question about questions. Specifically: what kinds of questions would you ask any of these curling stars, if TSN happened to invite your contributions?

Not to toot our own horn too much… but if you post your question ideas in the Comment(s) field below, you just might see and hear your question pop up on Thursday’s show.


[Morris photo montage by Anil Mungal]

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Dude is gonna be a star

by Margo Weber

Okay, so I didn’t go to the final game, and watched it at my in-law’s house. They had a pre-Christmas dinner. We do more than one Christmas on that side of the family.
As soon as the game was over and last rock was thrown… the TV was turned off. Sigh. My favourite part… and I missed it.

I don’t have much to say about the game, except for the obvious: the Kevin Martin squad was the team to beat. They played better, they were just plain better. They will be our best representatives from a skill standpoint… not that I’m in love with his international record but hey, let’s not beat a dead horse here.
I still see some shiny medals coming home to Alberta. I suspect gold in colour, but who knows.

I look forward to seeing how outrageous the John Morris campaigns will be. I’d imagine we’re going to be seeing him rake in some serious cash for advertisements etc. Especially if he helps bring home the gold. Right now, every curling fan in Canada knows who he is. The Olympics are a whole different animal. Dude is gonna be a star.

I like to think of opportunities for curlers at a time like this. The Martin and Cheryl Bernard team members are funded to the tune of $1,500 each a month, tax-exempt, for 30 months. And if they win gold, it will be even more profitable to stick it out and curl and curl and curl and curl and in some cases, treat it like a job.
Don’t get me wrong, nobody’s getting rich curling. But things like getting cash for Olympic medals (is it still $20,000 for gold?) certainly help out the wallet.
Just don’t blow it all on souvenirs.
Photo caption:
KMART: Geez young fellah, you are so gonna overshadow me in Vancouver!
JMO (contemplatively): Yes. I know.
[CCA photo by Michael Burns]
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Trials All-Star Hotties

by Margo Weber
EDMONTON – Come on. You read the blog mayhem from the Calgary Brier, right?
You know I had to “go there” eventually, right?
Okay, here they are… the long awaited All Star Hottie Teams at these here Tim Hortons Canadian (Olympic) Curling Trials.
I give no explanation for my picks, except for sheer hotness. There is a serious Alberta flavour here, but I did try not to be biased. Remember, there were six Alberta teams in the field…

I caught a lot of heck – Dalene Heck? – for my Brier picks, but I think these choices are, for the most part, obvious. Whatever.


Fourth – David Nedohin
Third – John Morris
Second – Carter Rycroft
Lead – The farmer from the Dekalb TV commercials. Note: there are two farmers, I’m talking about the scruffy cute one.


Skip – Crystal Webster
Third – Jeanna Schrader
Second – Sheri Singler
Lead – Chelsey Bell

** My husband wants a disclaimer here that his picks are Jennifer Jones, Kim Schneider and Kari MacLean and he thinks I should be playing lead on one of these teams. To THAT I say I’d have to start going to the gym.

Agree with my picks? Disagree? Feel free to discuss!

[CCA photo of Morris by Michael Burns]
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Carrot Cup of Curling

Did you hear about the Carrot Cup?
TCN publisher George Karrys, who recently made his return as a Toronto-centric Sun Media curling columnist after a 10-year absence, revealed the existence of the Cup for the first time at last week’s Grey Power World Cup of Curling.

The tell-all can be read here.

And here, at last, is the world’s first exclusive photo (above) of the Carrot Cup, temporarily clutched by the jubilant pair of Ben Hebert (left) and John Morris from Team Kevin Martin.

For the record, Team Randy Ferbey held the Cup all summer, following the Grey Power Players’ Championship. Team Kevin Koe then won the Cup over Ferbey at New Westminster. In Mississauga, the Cup changed hands four times – from Koe to Martin to Team Brad Gushue to Koe again, and then finally to Team Glenn Howard.

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Vancouver 2010 Olympic gear

Say hello to 2002 Olympic curling silver medallist – and 2010 Olympic team hopeful – Carter Rycroft, resplendent in Canada’s new Olympic clothing.

This image provokes some thoughts. One of which is that Rycroft is just as close to repeating his Olympic experience with Team Kevin Koe than John Morris, last year’s Canadian curling poster boy, is close to going for the very first time.

Another is that Rycroft makes this stuff look good.

John who?

The host nation unveiled its official Olympic wear for Vancouver 2010 yesterday – all except key athlete-only gear, like the ceremony and podium lines – to generally strong reviews (see here, here and here).

Another curler took part in the launch – Sonja Gaudet, who has captured world and Paralympic gold for Canada, and whose spot on the 2010 national wheelchair curling team was confirmed earlier this week. Gaudet’s HBC publicity photo should appear later today at Eric Eales’ excellent Wheelchair Curling Blog.

Make sure you check out the November issue of The Curling News for much, more on Vancouver 2010 and, of course, Canada’s upcoming Tim Hortons Canadian Curling Trials. That first print edition of the new season comes out in mid-October.

There was much talk about the new clothing, which has continued into today. There is also a political firestorm over the team clothing logo, which allegedly resembles the logo for the political party currently running the country. Sigh.

For the best look at the product lines, including videos, visit this special Hudson Bay Company Olympic site.

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Gushue makes two (Ursel, King and Homan too)

Just prior to the Shorty Jenkins Classic tour stop in Brockville, John Morris hadn’t even seen a hard copy of his new book, Fit to Curl, which we first told you about in August.
Today, Johnny Mo has seen – and autographed – lots of copies, but his Kevin Martin squad has lost their opening tourney of the season.

2006 Olympic champion Brad Gushue made it two Tour wins in a row with an 8-6 see-saw win over the Martinites in Brockville.

After Martin scored an enormous four points in the first end, the Gushues replied with a single and then a huge steal of three to tie the match.

After exchanging singles for three ends, the St. John’s foursome posted a critical deuce in the seventh end, and followed that up with another steal coming home.

The victory comes just days after the squad’s season-opening win in Switzerland.

In the semis, Gushue had upset two-time defending Shorty champion Glenn Howard by a 5-4 count, on the strength of key steals in the fifth and sixth ends. Howard grabbed a deuce in the seventh but the Newfoundlanders held the fort and scored one in the eight for the victory.

In the other semi, Martin battled Ontario’s Dale Matchett and finally prevailed 9-8 in an extra-end.

Other men’s qualifiers were Edmonton’s Kevin Koe, Winnipeg’s Jason Gunnlaugson, Quebec’s Robert Desjardins and Sarnia’s Heath McCormick/Peter Steski tandem.

In women’s play, young Ontario phenom Rachel Homan prevailed against Quebec’s Eve Bélisle 9-4 in the final. Down 3-1 in the third end, the 2009 national junior finalists took three and then stole consecutive pairs to build an 8-3 lead.

Bélisle had upended China’s Bingyu Wang 7-5 in the semi-finals, while Homas took out Brantford’s Jo-Ann Rizzo by an 8-2 count in the other semi.

Homan’s Ottawa foursome had also beaten the Chinese 7-6 to finish atop their pool at 5-0. The world champions from Harbin finished 4-1.

In Edmonton, Kelowna’s Bob Ursel scored four points in the seventh end to shock hometown hero Randy Ferbey 5-2 in the men’s final.

Four out of the first five ends were blanked. With Ursel holding a slim 1-0 lead in the sixth, the Ferbey Four cracked a deuce to go up 2-1, before Ursel pounced for the big four-count.

Ferbey had made a comeback in the semi-final in dumping crosstown rival Jamie King 8-6. Down 5-1 after three ends, the three-time world champions scored seven points over the next five ends to reach the final.

Ursel defeated Pat Simmons of Davidson, Saskatchewan 5-3 in his semi-final.

On the women’s side, Edmonton’s Cathy King upended Calgary’s Cheryl Bernard, the 2009 Alberta champion, by a 7-3 scoreline.

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John Morris Curling Book

John Morris says fitness and curling go together. And he’s written a book to prove it.
Johnny Mo, who plays third for Kevin Martin’s 2008 world champion team, is releasing Fit to Curl: A Sport-Specific Guide to Training for the World’s Greatest Game.

“I’ve seen the game evolve,” says Morris. “The old stereotypes about curlers just aren’t true anymore. If you look at the top players, nearly all of them are very fit athletes with Olympic aspirations who devote a great deal of time to physical conditioning.”

Morris points out that high-performance curlers aren’t the only ones who can benefit from the sport-specific training offered in the book.

“The book is written so that curlers of all levels can follow a program that suits them,” says JoMo. “Even the recreational player who curls once or twice a week and competes in a couple of bonspiels will enjoy the game more by working out just a few hours a week. They’ll be able to contribute more when they compete and feel better about their overall level of fitness.”

Filled with color photography of many of the world’s top players – the pics are supplied by CurlingZone’s Dallas Bittle, SWEEP! chief Jim Henderson and, of course, Anil Mungal of this here The Curling News – the book details the physical demands of the sport and offers three levels of training programs – with calendars – to “make it easy for people to incorporate a fitness routine into their life. Even the typical curler who juggles family, career and the sport can find time for the workouts – many can be completed in less than an hour.”

Morris, who also skipped teams to world junior titles in 1998 and 1999, also suggests that “Whether you’re delivering a stone or sweeping from end to end, curling places unique demands on the body. It only makes sense to follow a training program that will help you feel fresh and perform better on the ice.”

Morris wrote the book with Dean Gemmell, who played lead for Quebec in the 1988 Brier and now produces a popular podcast called The Curling Show from his home in Short Hills, New Jersey. A side benefit of working on the book, remarks Gemmell, is that “I’m a more fit curler at 42 than I was at 20.”

Gemmell also notes that one dollar from the sale of every book in Canada will be given to the Canadian Curling Association to support junior curling programs throughout the country.

“John believes strongly in the value of curling in the life of a young person,” says Gemmell. We hope that this might help introduce a few more kids to the sport or keep them playing.”

Fit to Curl is available for purchase as of now through the official website and in curling pro shops. Shipping commences on September 8.

The website offers a 17-page preview download, which includes the table of contents and some fine pics, including one classic from 1993. Yes, John, Sav’s hair is worse than yours.