Ship part

Curlers right the ship, figure skaters struggle as Canada seeks to defend its gold medals

BEIJING — Canada’s defense of its Olympic gold medal in mixed doubles curling is looking much more promising. The road to repeat as figure skating team champion, however, is on dangerously thin ice.

BEIJING — Canada’s defense of its Olympic gold medal in mixed doubles curling is looking much more promising.

The road to repeat as figure skating team champion, however, is on dangerously thin ice.

After splitting their first two mixed doubles matches on Thursday, the Canadian tandem of John Morris and Rachel Homan picked up a pair of victories on Friday to find themselves tied with Great Britain for second place in the round-robin standings at 3-1.

Morris, of Canmore, Alta., and Homan of Ottawa started with a 7-5 win over Switzerland. The Canadians scored three in the first end and had a response each time the Swiss duo of Jenny Perret and Martin Rios looked to close the gap.

The Canadians followed with an 8-6 win over hosts China. Homan and Morris had a 4-1 lead after a steal of two in the third end and held an 8-4 lead going into the eighth and final end.

In team figure skating, Canada placed sixth after the first three events and faced early elimination from a competition they won at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.

A team already short of depth was missing Keegan Messing, who remains in Canada pending two more negative COVID-19 tests.

Roman Sadovsky, a 22-year-old Torontonian, replaced Messing in the men’s short program, but had shaky skating and finished eighth out of nine skaters.

Sadovsky underturned and landed on two feet on his quadruple Salchow to finish with 71.06 points.

“Honestly, a little disappointing,” Sadovsky said. “Only because those are mistakes I don’t usually make. The quad salchow is a comfort leap for me. It’s been very successful this season. There was just a slight incident on take-off that didn’t bother me. allowed to stop me.”

Friday’s events were some of the preliminary practices and competitions leading up to the opening ceremony to officially kick off the Beijing Games. The first medals are handed out on Saturday, notably in men’s moguls, where defending champion Mikaël Kingsbury of Deux-Montagnes, Que., is a repeat favorite.

The Canadian men’s hockey team had its practice canceled on Friday. Hockey Canada said the late afternoon session would have made it difficult for players to attend the opening ceremony. The team is set to hold its first practice on Saturday as it prepares for Thursday’s game against Germany.

Morris chose not to join his fellow Olympians at the ceremony.

“To be honest with you, I would much rather watch TV, drink a beer and play cards,” he said. “So that’s what I’m doing today.”

On Saturday, Morris and Homan will look to build on their momentum in matches against Sweden and the United States. Canada have won three straight games after starting with a 6-4 loss to Great Britain on Thursday.

Morris noted that the mixed doubles format appeals to a wider international talent pool. Case in point – Italy, hardly a traditional curling powerhouse, topped the standings after the first two days of competition at 4-0.

“I think it’s just a bit more suited to our times,” said Morris, who teamed with Kaitlyn Lawes to win gold when mixed doubles made its debut in Pyeongchang. “It’s a nice, fast game that’s aggressive, and it’s so popular around the world. There are more countries playing mixed doubles than traditional.”

In team figure skating, Canada moved from eighth to sixth place at the end of the day thanks to fourth place in ice dancing from Piper Gilles of Toronto and Paul Poirier of Unionville, Ont. , followed by fifth place in pairs by Kirsten Moore-Towers of St. Catharines, Ont., and Michael Marinaro of Sarnia, Ont.

However, only the top five teams make it through the short programs, and Canada could be on the outside if Madeline Schizas can’t move her team up one spot when she makes her Olympic debut in the women’s short program on Sunday.

In alpine skiing, Broderick Thompson of Whistler, BC, put in a strong showing in the second men’s training run. He finished third, 0.20 seconds behind leader Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway.

Thompson’s teammate, Brodie Seger of North Vancouver, BC, had a much tougher race when he crashed in a corner. Seger spun around and slid down the slope, brushing the safety nets, but avoiding serious injury.

“I feel lucky. My thumb hurts a bit but that’s it. I can ski with it,” Seger said.

A third training run is scheduled for Saturday, with the medal event taking place on Sunday.

And in luge, Reid Watts of Whistler, BC, finished 18th in the fifth and sixth practice runs of the men’s singles. The first two competitive rounds will take place on Saturday.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on February 4, 2022.

The Canadian Press