Vernon’s Jim Cotter will have to qualify for the Roar of the Rings Olympic trials, just like he did in 2013. (Anil Mungal photo)

Morris still in mix for Olympic berth

Misses automatic Roar of the Rings qualifying spot by one position; has to go pre-trial route again

To possibly represent Canada in men’s curling at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, John Morris and his rink will have to take a familiar route.

Morris, supported by Jim Cotter and Rick Sawatsky of Vernon, and Tyrel Griffith of Kelowna, failed to get an automatic berth to the Roar of the Rings men’s and women’s Olympic Trials in Ottawa Dec. 2-10 missing out by one spot.

Instead, Morris and company – if they accept – will be invited to the Olympic Trials qualifier in Summerside, P.E.I. Nov. 6-12, where two men’s and women’s rinks will join the seven automatic qualifiers in Ottawa.

This is the same thing that happened to the Morris rink in 2013. They won a pre-qualifier to get to the Roar of the Rings, then lost the final to Jacobs, who went on to win Olympic gold in Sochi, Russia.

Earning automatic berths to the trials in Ottawa are (men): Brad Gushue, St. John’s, Nfld.; Kevin Koe (Calgary); Brad Jacobs (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.); Reid Carruthers and Mike McEwen (Winnipeg); John Epping (Toronto); Steve Laycock (Saskatoon).

Women: Rachel Homan (Ottawa); Chelsey Carey (Calgary); Jennifer Jones and Michelle Englot (Winnipeg); Alli Flaxey (Caledon, Ont.); Casey Scheidegger (Lethbridge) and Val Sweeting (Edmonton).

The announcement of the 14 qualifiers is the culmination of a process that began during the 2014-15 season, with teams able to qualify directly for the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings in three distinct manners:

By winning the Home Hardware Canada Cup;

By winning the Tim Hortons Brier/Scotties Tournament of Hearts and then earning a medal at the world men’s or women’s curling championship;

Performance on the Canadian Team Ranking System (CTRS).

In some cases, teams clinched more than one berth; Homan, for instance, had four direct-entry berths based on the qualifying criteria, while Jones had three. On the men’s side, Gushue qualified in three different ways while Koe did it twice.

In cases where teams qualified in more than one way, the berth then went to the highest non-qualified team on the 2016-17 CTRS. The one exception was when the winner of the Tim Hortons Brier/Scotties Tournament of Hearts didn’t win a medal at the world championship; in that instance, the Trials berth went to the highest non-qualified team on the CTRS in that season. That was the case in 2016 when Calgary’s Chelsea Carey won the Scotties but finished fourth at the Ford Worlds. Her Trials berth then went to Jones, the 2015-16 CTRS leader.

Jacobs and Homan won the season-ending Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling’s Humpty’s Champions Cup event in Calgary.

Jacobs defeated Koe in the men’s final while Homan knocked off Anna Hasselborg of Sweden in the women’s championship.

Koe eliminated Morris in the quarterfinals, 7-3, using a great runback double takeout to score three in the second to take a 3-1 lead. After Cotter drew to the button for a point in the third, Koe added a deuce in four and stole one in five for a 6-2 advantage.

Morris went 3-2 in Calgary, where Saskatchewan’s Catlin Schneider filled in for an injured Sawatsky and threw second stones. Griffith threw lead rocks.

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