The Olympic trials in 2013 and the Brier in 2014 both ended in heartbreaking finishes for John Morris, Jim Cotter and their Okanagan team.
Now, after two seasons apart, Morris, Cotter, Tyrel Griffith and Rick Sawatsky are back together to take another run at curling’s biggest prizes.
With third Ryan Kuhn deciding to step away from the team this spring, that paved the way for Morris to rejoin B.C’s top team of the past five years.
“There were a lot of great curlers and great people who were asking what we were planning to do, and when we found out John was interested, it just seemed like the best fit,” said Griffith, who plays second on the Vernon/Kelowna foursome.
“It made sense in so many ways, we went through a lot together before and we all want to get back to where we were and take another run at the ultimate goal in the sport.”
The ultimate prize, of course, is the 2018 Olympic Games in South Korea.
Team Morris, as it will be known once again, came agonizingly close to earning a trip to the 2014 Olympics in Vancouver, but lost the trials final in Winnipeg to Brad Jacobs.
Five months later, Morris, Cotter and company were on the doorstep again at the Brier in Kamloops, but came up short in the decisive game against Kevin Koe.
Griffiths said both the experience gained and disappointment endured by the Vernon/Kelowna team in one season can only benefit them in the future.
“That season (2013-14), it was a new team and it took us a while to come together,” Griffith said. “But we just kept getting better and better. We played amazing at the Brier, we just had one game that we didn’t bring our best.
“Having gone through this before, I think what we learned and know now is huge. We’ll have an extra year together, so I think that’ll be a big advantage for us.”
In addition to their curling abilities, Griffith expects the various personalities to mix well together.
“Jimmy, Rick and I are pretty easygoing guys and we get along well with John,” said Griffith. “He’ll bring a real fire to our rink and I think the guys are excited to get going. We know what our dreams and goals are and we’re motivated by that.”
Although nothing is yet etched in stone, Griffith said the Vernon/Kelowna team is likely use the same arrangement as their previous tour together, with Morris skipping and throwing third stones, while Cotter would throw last.
As for Kuhn’s two-year stint with the Cotter team, Griffith said the Vernon curler will be missed.
“Ryan’s a great teammate and great person,” Griffith said. “He has a young family and a busy job and the level of commitment was hard for him. We had two great seasons with him.”