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Kaitlyn Lawes going back to Olympic Games in mixed doubles curling

Canada's Sochi women's curling team, from left to right: Kirsten Wall, Dawn McEwen, Jill Officer, Kaitlyn Lawes and skip Jennifer Jones. Wong Maye-E / The Associated Press

Kaitlyn Lawes has qualified for a second consecutive Winter Olympic Games.

Lawes and her partner John Morris defeated Val Sweeting and Brad Gushue 8-6 in the final of the Mixed Doubles Trials in Portage la Prairie on Sunday afternoon.

The duo secured the first ever berth for Canada in the new Olympic event of mixed doubles curling.

“I’m in shock.” Lawes said in a media release. “I’m so proud of our efforts this week. We had a couple tough losses and a couple tough games that we had to grind out and what an amazing journey to come out on top of such an incredible field,”

“What an honour to be able to get back to an Olympics and represent our country. It’s a dream come true.”

Sweeting and Gushue opened the game with a single point in the first end. Lawes had a shot for as many as three with last rock in the second end, but failed to move the shot rock far enough and the team settled for one point to tie up the match.

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The first deuce of the game came in the third end.

With three rocks surrounding the button, Sweeting made a quiet tap to push both red rocks out of the four foot for a 3-1 lead.

But Lawes and Morris answered back in the fourth end. Lawes seized control of the game as she made a takeout to count four and Lawes and Morris led 5-3 at the break.

They continued to carry the momentum through the fifth end, as Sweeting missed on a run back with the hammer. Lawes and Morris stole a pair for a commanding 7-3 advantage.

Sweeting and Gushue were set up to score a four-ender in the sixth, but with her final throw Lawes made a terrific double takeout. That meant Sweeting and Gushue had to settle for a pair, which cut the gap down to just two.

The lead was cut even further in seventh end as Lawes missed a double takeout with last rock. Sweeting and Gushue stole a single point to make it a 7-6 game going to the final end.

But Lawes didn’t even need to make her final throw in the eighth end. Sweeting’s last shot spilled out of the rings to give Lawes and Morris a trip to South Korea.

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Lawes won an Olympic gold medal as the third for Jennifer Jones at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The Winnipeg-born Morris won a gold medal with Kevin Martin at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

The 2018 Winter Games begin on Feb. 9 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

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