Calamity struck curling’s traditional super-power Canada in Pyeongchang but the Canucks are expected to bounce back in Beijing this month.
Although successful in the inaugural mixed doubles competition four years ago, they failed to medal in either the men’s or women’s team events for the first time.
Two familiar faces will spearhead the recovery mission and hopes are high of Canada making amends in many Winter Olympics 2022 Curling predictions.
Brad Gushue, a gold medalist in 2006, will come back to lead the men’s team and they are 3.0 second favourites to prevail.
Meanwhile, 2014 winner Jennifer Jones returns to the women’s event and her squad are 3.5 market leaders to end up on top of the podium.
Canada have earned a record 11 Olympic curling medals and did not miss the podium in either the men’s or women’s events from Nagano 1998 through Sochi 2014.
Gushue was 25 when a successful skipper in Turin and bids to recapture that sparkle alongside teammates Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker.
He admits to being emotional about this adventure after a 16-year gap, highlighting the added incentive of giving his children something to cheer about.
The Beijing stands will be empty due to Covid restrictions, but Gushue is hoping the experience of qualifying under similar circumstances at November’s Canadian Curling Trials will stand him in good stead.
“We did improve as the bubble went on,” he said. “We got better and better and I think that is going to help us, because we know what we need to do to get to the level that we play our best at.”
Bruce Mouat’s Great Britain side are 2.85 favourite in the men’s section after claiming silver at last April’s World Championship in Calgary, beating a different Canada quartet in the play-offs.
Niklas Edin earned his fifth gold for Sweden at that event and is 4.0 for more glory here, with Switzerland 9.0 and defending champions the USA 13.0.
Jones tipped to become golden oldie
In the women’s tournament, Canada skip Jones will be assisted by Kaitlyn Lawes, Jocelyn Peterman, Dawn McEwen and alternate Lisa Weagle.
Jones, Lawes and McEwen were part of the gold-winning quartet at Sochi 2014, where they had a perfect 11-0 record as the first undefeated female outfit in Olympic history.
At 47, the captain is Canada’s oldest female Winter Olympian and tries to become the most-senior medalist of any country at these Games.
With two world titles in 2008 and 2018 also on her stellar CV, experience will definitely not be a problem.
The same can be said of Great Britain leader Eve Muirhead, who is 4.5 to rekindle memories of Rhona Martin’s triumph in Salt Lake City 20 years ago.
Muirhead heads into her fourth Games still chasing that elusive gold but is seen as a serious threat in our Winter Olympics 2022 Curling predictions.
Despite being the youngest skip to win a World Championship in 2013, and taking bronze in Sochi, Muirhead has flattered to deceive on the biggest stage.
However, a tough qualifying campaign – in which her otherwise inexperienced rink flirted with elimination – could prove a blessing in disguise for the steely-focused 31-year-old.
“At the qualifying event, we regrouped after one win and one loss and realised we had to come together and win our next five games, and that is exactly what we did,” said Muirhead.
“It gives me a lot of confidence to know that as a team we can battle through the tough times in competition, and it is always nice when you come out at the other hand having fought so hard.”
Defending champs Sweden are again among the favourites in the Winter Olympics 2022 Curling odds at 3.6.
But watch out for South Korea’s ‘Garlic Girls’, who lit up Pyeongchang and will be looking to retain that momentum with a 15.0 upset.
In the mixed doubles, British pair Mouat and Jennifer Dodds, the reigning world champions, began brightly with wins over Sweden and Canada before a narrow 8-7 loss to Switzerland.
They are 3.4 favourites, with John Morris and Rachel Homan 3.5 to recover for Canada.
Morris partnered with Kaitlyn Lawes to claim gold four years ago and was part of the successful men’s side in Vancouver in 2010.
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