Curling princes grow up to be kings

TODD SAELHOF -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

With a Brier title in his back pocket -- finally -- John Morris returned to Calgary with further proof his decision to join curling legend Kevin Martin was the right one.

It turns out giving up his lifelong love of being a skip was rewarded with a dream victory and a chance to make even more dreams come true with a world championship now in sight and possible Olympic glory on the horizon.

"I like playing third," said Morris, a two-time Canadian and world junior men's skip, almost surprised himself by the words falling from his mouth.

Certainly, the Chestermere resident fits in well behind Martin as a significant one-two punch on Canada's No. 1 rink, as proven by its Brier victory Sunday in Winnipeg and its place atop the World Curling Tour's money list.

It's nice to be part of a successful super-rink, although Morris has been part of one for most of his career.

And ironically, he was previously a super-rink success with two of the men he beat Sunday for the coveted championship.

Once upon a time, back in hometown Ottawa, Morris and Craig Savill teamed with Andy Ormsby and Brent Laing, both of whom lived six hours from the nation's capital. They became a rare super-rink among junior men and went on to win the 1998 Canadian title and a world championship.Jason Young, another out-of-towner, replaced Ormsby the following year, and the Morris foursome duplicated the feat, winning the nation and planet again at the junior level.

Joe Frans then replaced Young and joined Morris, Savill and Laing to finish runner-up to Alberta's Randy Ferbey in the 2002 Brier in Calgary.

Savill and Laing now form the front end for Glenn Howard, who fell to Martin, Morris, Marc Kennedy and Calgarian Ben Hebert in this year's Brier final.

"I'm sure, when we get older, we'll look back on this as something special," Morris said. "Lots of people have been saying, 'You guys must have had a great junior team.' It's nice to be out there with guys you grew up with and developed with and curled with.

"They're great guys," Morris continued. "Savill and Laing are guys you cheer for because you know they're great guys.

"If you can't win, it's always nice to see someone you know and respect win it."

That was the case last year for Morris, looking on as the Howard rink took the Brier and then won the world title.

This year, it was his turn to join the championship company of childhood buddies Savill and Laing.

"Brent and I were chatting after the game, and he was very gracious," said Morris of catching up with his old mates after the Brier finale. "He said, 'You deserve it.'

"When you're younger and you lose a big a game, sometimes you get a bit more angry," continued Morris, 29. "The older you get, the easier it is to take positives away from the experience."

Martin's foursome is committed to each other through 2010, says Morris, after which the Ottawa native might consider a move back east.

But there are other priorities to take into account, including family and career.

"There's a lot more to life than curling that I want to enjoy before I get too old," Morris said. "One option definitely is moving home and continuing to play with this team. But I definitely wouldn't rule out moving back and linking up with (Craig and Brent) in the future."

The 2008 World Men's Curling Championship runs April 5-13 in Grand Forks, N.D.

Extra Ends

Gold seems to be the destiny for Alberta's top wheelchair rink, which curls out of the Ogden Legion, at the 2008 Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship. The team skipped by Bruno Yizek captured the Alberta crown for the third time. On their first visit to nationals, the Calgary rink brought home the bronze, and the second trip saw it snatch silver. Yizek, third Jack Smart, second Anne Hibberd, lead Bridget Wilson, alternate Elmer Stang and coach Glen Brunelle were saluted by well-wishers Saturday at the Ogden Legion in preparation for the national event in Winnipeg March 25-29.

LAST ROCK

The best curling rinks with members aged 14 and under were honoured in Sundre during the weekend. Dustin Rafa of Acadia skipped his team to the gold medal. Second-place silver went to Carter Lautner and bronze to Chris Cook, both of the Calgary Winter Club.


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