For Morris and Homan, a Canadian duo of mixed doubles players, the curling connection is deep

BEIJING -- Rachel Homan, a youngster, used to curl at the curling rink alongside her parents to see her older brother John Morris play on the junior team.

For Morris and Homan, a Canadian duo of mixed doubles players, the curling connection is deep

She was not old enough to join the 'little rock' junior program. However, she would occasionally take to the ice by herself after the games were over.

Earle Morris, John’s father, recalled looking out from behind the window and being amazed by Homan's natural abilities.

He said, "She would be throwing rocks at five-years-old by herself with a perfect delivery." "That got my attention."

The Morris-Homan curling relationship is deep.

John and Mark Homan won silver at the 1997 Canadian junior men’s championship. Earle was a former player and used to coach Rachel's team of four players.

Both John and Rachel have had a stellar career in curling. They represented Canada at the Olympics and won three national titles.

They will now be wearing the Maple Leaf to serve as mixed doubles partners at Beijing Games.

Earle stated that both of them respond well to the spotlight. They are calm, focused and believe.

Morris and Homan practiced at the Ice Cube Wednesday in preparation for their round-robin opener against Great Britain Thursday morning.

They were able to practice at the four-sheet facility, which was used for the 2008 Summer Games swimming competitions.

Morris stated, "We've been off ice for five day just in transit and travel." "It just feels good to get back out there, shake the legs out.

Morris, 43, is back at the Games as the defending mixed doubles champion. This discipline made its Olympic debut in 2018 at the Pyeongchang Games. After Homan had qualified in the women’s team event, he teamed up with Kaitlyn and Lawes.

Morris and Homan have won four of the six mixed doubles competitions they've been in together, and 45 of their 49 games as a pair overall.

Scott Pfeifer is their national coach, and he was part of the team that beat Morris in the national junior final quarter-century ago.

Pfeifer stated that the team is extremely motivated and are doing all they can to prepare for this event. Off the ice, I believe they have a stronger bond. Because they have known each other so long, it's almost like a brother-sister.

"I believe that this goes a long ways toward the chemistry they will need to compete at high levels."

The Morris and Homan families used to get together at holidays for fun curling games. Earle began coaching Rachel at the age of 13.

He said from Ottawa that she was "from the beginning, she had this focus, this confidence and fearlessness when playing," he stated. She was able to back it up with great shots.

Homan won her first women's national title in 2013, three year after Morris and Kevin Martin won the Olympic gold. Homan and Morris teamed up first for mixed doubles back in 2015.

Homan stated, "I've known him so long, it just seems easy."

Before making their trip to China, they held a two-week training camp in Canmore, Alta. with Pfeifer. During their time off from curling, they did some snowshoeing or ice fishing.

Canada, along with Great Britain and Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, is one of the favorite teams in the 10-team field.

Round-robin play starts Wednesday night and runs through Monday. The semifinals will be decided by the top four teams. Medal games will take place on Tuesday.

Marc Kennedy, a men's alternate on the team and who joined them for training, said that "there are no better competitors in all Canadian curling." "So I look forward to seeing their potential."