March 1, 2011
Heroes rockin' one year later
By TODD SAELHOF, QMI Agency
The Brier is just around the bend.
And Chestermere, Alta.'s John Morris is boosted by a recent flood of champion flashbacks that marked 365 days as an Olympic hero, feeding the competitive fire to continue his infinite success as a world-class curler.
"I was watching TV the other night, and our one-year anniversary came on," said Morris of clips seen Sunday. "We were watching highlights of our team win. It was cool to see. It was cool to relive those memories."
Yes, there were plenty of good times for Team Canada's Morris, Kevin Martin, Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert in Vancouver -- right up through the last night, when they blew the lid off the Olympic athletes village with a little help from hockey friends.
"We tied one on with Sid the Kid and the other guys," said Morris, of partying with Canadian hockey heroes Sidney Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf, Marc- Andre Fleury and others just hours after enjoying puck glory of Canada Games Place.
"We'd see the younger guys around the village and play ping-pong with them since they weren't spending the Olympic break hanging out with their families, like some of the older hockey players there," Morris said. "They'd say, 'Great curling -- keep it up,' Hearing that from them is inspiring. Those are guys you look up to.
"Rubbing shoulders with the big boys is pretty inspiring."
But partying with them was even better.
"On that last night in the village, they hung out with us and they were showing us pictures of them curling," Morris said. "Sid was showing us his delivery -- it was wild.
"One misconception of the Olympic athletes village is that it's a party all the time -- that's not true. The only time the athletes in the village let loose was on that last night. And as curlers, it was our responsibility to host that party.
"It was truly an experience and the best time of my life. Every part of the Olympics was just awesome."
Linda Wagner came oh-so close to capturing the Alberta masters women's crown Sunday. The Calgary skip was defeated in the final by vet-e ran and former Alberta women's champ Simone Handfield of Edmonton. Wagner, third Sandy Turner, second Marilyn Toews and lead Judy Carr finished the roundrobin with a perfect 5-0 record to advance directly to the final. Handfield, meanwhile, went 4-1 in the roundrobin and had to beat fellow Edmontonian Charlotte Mittelstadt 7-3 in the semifinal draw before exacting revenge on Wagner and her Calgary Curling Club squad for an earlier roundrobin loss at the six-team championship for curlers ages 60-plus. For Turner, Toews and Carr, they were attempting to defend the provincial title they won last year. On the masters men's side, it was Mel Bates of Edmonton scoring an 8-5 win over Grande Prairie's Colin Griffith for the title Sunday afternoon. Calgarians Doug McIntyre, of the Calgary Curling Club, and Frank Bailey, of the Inglewood Golf & Curling Club, finished 3-4 and 1-6 respectively to fall shy of the playoffs in the eight-team event. Bates and Handfield will represent Alberta at the senior nationals, March 30-April 5 in Winnipeg ... Airdrie's Michael Roy and his Alberta squad fell short in their bid to win gold at the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax. Roy, third Geoff Nicholson of Calgary, second Mac Lenton of Airdrie and lead Taylor Ardiel of Okotoks posted a 2-3 record in roundrobin action before losing a playoff crossover game 4-3 to Nova Scotia. Ontario's Jake McGee and his crew were crowned Canada Games champs among men with Saturday's 6-5 triumph over Saskatchewan.
The juvenile provincials run Friday through Sunday in Coaldale. The mixed south-erns go Friday through Sunday in Brooks. And bantam districts action continues Friday through Sunday in Strathmore.