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  • Vermilion Voice

Celebrating An Olympic Gold Medal – Gone Fishin’

John Morris (right) enjoyed spending time with his dad, Earle, (left) and catching Rainbow Trout at the Pyeongchang Trout Festival in February 2018. Photos submitted.

An Albertan at heart and winner of a 2018 Olympic gold medal for Mixed Doubles Curling, John Morris, celebrated in part by taking in the Pyeongchang Trout Festival.

Morris mentioned that his 2010 Olympic gold medal experience in Vancouver was wonderful, but that this team had finished competing a day before the games were over.

“In Pyeongchang we finished with 13 days of being able to experience the culture, cheer on teammates in other sports, and spent time with family,” said Morris.

After doing some research, Morris opted to take in the Pyeongchang Trout Festival, where he took his dad and best buddy ice fishing. The group enjoyed spending time with the locals and succeeded in catching a couple of Rainbow Trout.

“I really got a rise out of experiencing the local culture and tasting the fish right there. They even cut one into sushi which I had never fathomed trying before - but when in Rome! It was fantastic; probably one of the best fish I’ve ever tasted,” said Morris.

Morris loves Alberta for the outdoors, mountains, and warmth and friendliness of Albertans. He grew up around Ottawa and Toronto and has come to like the feeling of smaller towns better for their slower pace, warm environment, and great people. In his leisure, Morris enjoys fishing, hiking, bow hunting, and canoeing.

“I love being able to wake up and see the Rocky Mountains and elk in my yard everyday; even herding them off my doorstep. I’ll never take it for granted, and Alberta will always be a part of me now,” said Morris.

Morris also completed a chef course a few years ago and continues to enjoy cooking. Morris works to create delicious, healthy meals and often tries new recipes out for the men he works with at Rocky View Fire Services.

“Most are received well; firefighters are a good audience to cook for,” said Morris.

Morris remembers taking his fire training in Vermilion in 2006 as one of the best summers he has had. According to Morris, he needed specialized training in the field, and Lakeland College’s Emergency Training Centre was highly recommended. Morris felt that the instructors were amazing, and Ed Gadbois, Cam Stevenson, and Leo Tobin stood out in his memory. One thing he loved about the program was meeting men from all over the country with similar interests. Morris’ roommate at the time, Dax Huba, is now Morris’ fire chief at Rocky View, and he and fellow student, Ryan McAvoy, remain good friends and quite often go bow hunting together.

“I loved flying under the radar and getting a genuine experience by being treated like one of the guys. The relationships you make are as important as the training; it creates a bit of a brotherhood. I still remember Thursday night Steak Frys at the Legion. I really liked playing pool and set a goal to beat my instructor, Leo Tobin, and succeeded before the end of the year which made my summer," said Morris.

When asked if fire training in any way assisted his outlook or ability to perform in curling, Morris said, “What it really reinforced was the team aspect. I’ve always enjoyed being a part of a team, and utilizing people’s different skills on the field in firefighting transferred seamlessly over to my athletic career.”

Morris appreciates that firefighting is a physical job and contributes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. He never wanted a Monday-Friday, 9-5 desk job, and was drawn to firefighting because he feels that never knowing what you’re going to get keeps a person on their feet. One of Morris’ biggest contributions to his fire service is community involvement, and always enjoys giving tours and attending local schools.

“Helping to grow community bonds is a vital component to firefighting,” said Morris.

Morris noted the power of positivity in both curling and in life. He admitted to having some lows in curling, even this year and said, “Perseverance was key to not throwing in the towel. In Pyeongchang the difference was that Kaitlyn (Lawes) and I had good team chemistry and maintained good communication, propelling us to a gold medal.”

When asked more about what qualities help contribute to becoming a two-time Olympic gold medalist, Morris said, “Work ethic; no matter if you want to be successful in sport or in life, you have to work hard at it because nothing comes easy. Maintaining a positive attitude and keeping things in perspective is important. Things won’t happen overnight, and people will want to bring you down, but working through times of adversity, and a keeping positive is essential.

To encourage young athletes in Vermilion, Morris added, “I’m a big advocate of dreaming big and following your passions. If you do that throughout life, you will be successful. Don’t just go through the motions and don’t let people bring you down. There is no better feeling in the world than doing something you are passionate about.”

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