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Team Gushue curlers getting another shot at Olympics

Newfoundland and Labrador third Mark Nichols calls a shot during the Sunday night draw of the Brier at Mile One Centre.
Telegram file photo/Keith Gosse — Before Thursday, third Mark Nichols, shown in this file photo, was the only member of the Brad Gushue team who didn't have a spot in the January trials that will decide Canada's mixed doubles curling entry for the 2018 Winter Olympics. That changed with Thursday's announcement that Nichols will team with Jennifer Jones at the mixed trials.

With Mark Nichols teaming up with Jennifer Jones, all four members of Brier and world men's championship team have berths at Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials

All four members of the Brad Gushue world men’s championship curling team are getting another crack at wearing the Maple Leaf at the 2018 Olympic Games.

But there’s no chance they will be going to Pyeongchang, South Korea together.

Gushue, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker will be competing separately in the 18-team Canad Inns Mixed Doubles Curling Trials in Portage La Prairie, Man., early next month.

That event will determine Canada's first representative in Olympic mixed doubles curling. Mixed doubles — with teams comprised of a male and a female — will make its Olympic debut in Pyeongchang.

Gushue (Val Sweeting), Gallant (Jocelyn Peterman) and Walker (Laura Crocker), who are all teamed with Alberta-based curlers, earned their berths for Portage La Prairie earlier this year by virtue of a rankings system.

Nichols wasn’t on the original list. However, on Thursday, it was announced he would be teaming with former Canadian women’s champion skip Jennifer Jones at the mixed doubles trials.

Jones had been set to play with her husband, Brett Laing, in Portage La Prairie, but Laing was taken out of the mix when he and his teammates on Kevin Koe’s rink won the men’s ttle at the Canadian Olympic Trials last weekend in Ottawa, where the Gushue team was third.

Curling Canada had decided it wasn't good for the country's medal chances in mixed doubles and full team competition to have the country's top curlers compete in both events in Pyeongchang.

So by winning in Ottawa, Koe and Rachel Homan, who topped the women’s division at the Trials, took players from their teams out of the mix for mixed doubles .

Five teams were impacted and the remaining players had until Thursday to name a replacement partner.

Besides Nichols-Jones, here are the other teams who have made changes (former team members in brackets):

• John Morris (Rachel Homan) Kaitlyn Lawes

• Reid Carruthers (Joanne Courtney) Jill Officer

•Tyrel Griffith (Emma Miskew) Sherry Just

• John Epping (Lisa Weagle) Sherry Middaugh

The switches could be significant in that Morris and Homan are the top-ranked team in Canada in mixed doubles, with Carruthers/Courtney second and Jones/Laing third.


With files from The Canadian Press

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