The Central Okanagan’s top men’s curling rink is taking a unique approach to the coming season and has added a fifth player to its rink. And not just any fifth, but one of the top curlers in Canada in former Kevin Martin third John Morris.
Skip Jim Cotter announced on Wednesday that Morris, a 2010 Olympic gold-medalist, will join the Cotter rink for their run at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Morris has played the past seven seasons with the Martin rink out of Edmonton but will join Cotter for the first time at the Capital One Road to the Roar Pre-Trials competition in November in Kitchener, Ont.
Cotter described the Martin team as “one of the most successful teams in the history of the game,” and said he was pleased to get a call from Morris about the possibility of joining his team.
“When a guy of John’s caliber calls you out of the blue, you’re definitely interested in what he has to say,” said Cotter. “John is someone who I’ve always highly respected on and off the ice. John is one of the best players in the world and surely would be accepted by any team he approached. Just based on his attitude and passion that he brings to the game and the fact that he is already good friends with several of our team members, it was an easy choice to make to join forces.”
Morris will join a five-man rotation on the team, joining Cotter, Jason Gunnlaugson, Tyrel Griffith and Rick Sawatzky.
“I took the five-man team option back to the guys and we all quickly agreed that the addition of John’s experience and ability would substantially improve our team and take us to a new level,” said Cotter. “ We all recognize how much John has sacrificed; it’s no secret. With that said, it has motivated us even more; it’s not every day an opportunity like this presents itself. We are ecstatic right now and are already looking forward to stepping on the ice again next season.”
Cotter said the team would feature Morris calling the game, while Cotter will throw skip rocks; he was in a similar role while playing with Pat Ryan at the 2005 Canadian Curling Trials in Halifax.
“I am extremely excited to be partnering up with Jim Cotter for an Olympic run next season,” said Morris. “I have always had nothing but tons of respect for not only his shooting ability but also his attitude towards the game of curling. Having Jim and I playing back-end together will be a deadly combo as it will allow Jim to focus mostly on his shot-making. I think our front end will be able to compete with the best front-ends on the World Curling Tour and their youthful enthusiasm will be a great addition to the squad. It was very important to me when I approached Jim that everyone on the team was on board and committed going forward. Team Cotter had a good year this past season and I didn’t want to come in and disrupt any team dynamics. To be a championship team, everyone has to be comfortable with their role on the team and ego’s have to be checked at the door, it is the only way to make positive strides together as a unit.”
Cotter and Morris said the early part of the season will be devoted to finding the best lineup to use in Kitchener.
“We will simply try out some front-end combinations early in the season at our first few bonspiels and whoever is rising to the occasion and playing the best will earn their spot,” said Morris. “All five members understand this situation and have embraced the challenge.
“Our goal will be to represent Canada in Sochi. This will be a great challenge and we will have to take some big strides in a short amount of time. However with the attitude, commitment, and motivation that I see from this team, there is no doubt in my mind we can be wearing a Maple Leaf on our backs in February.”
The team will get together for meetings in May and begin dry-land training soon afterward. The team will continue to play out of the Okanagan but will hold high-performance training camps at the National Training Centre at the Glencoe Club in Calgary.