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Fit to Curl: A holiday break. And the return.

After our team won the last Capital One Grand Slam, the Swiss Chalet National, we went on a break that was longer than any we’ve had in some time.

For me, that’s meant really kicking back and enjoying the holidays. In fact, I went three weeks without stepping on the ice. After a year that included the incredible Olympic experience, I was ready for a serious break.

For the first time ever, my own house was holiday headquarters for my family. Parents, sisters, nieces, nephews — everyone was at my place. It was great but, like most families, there are times when it’s more like the Griswolds than the Morrises. I don’t have a brother-in-law who parks an RV in the driveway but we do have our moments.

During this break, the closest I got to standing on a frozen surface was going on Lake Chestermere for some redneck tobogganing — pulling the kids on a sled behind my ATV like every prairie type loves to do. One thing I didn’t cut out, however, was workouts. I knew that if I were not in the gym at least a few times a week that my return to the ice in January would be very challenging. Not only did the gym give me a chance to burn off some of the indulgences that we all enjoy — it was tough to pass a table at my house without some sweets or cookies on it — but it was a nice escape from the holiday madness. My dad joined me for some workouts and I hit the yoga studio with my sister.

But what about this week, my first time back on the ice after the break? Well, during those first few practices, my routine is a bit different. The focus is strictly on the mechanics of my delivery — I don’t really worry about making specific shots or trying to produce results at the other end. I just want to get reacquainted with throwing the rock and making sure that things like my set-up and my timing are correct. After two or three practices, I’ll return to my typical approach to practice, with specific drills and a greater focus on results.

John Morris with members of the Detroit Red Wings

My team got together in Edmonton last week for team practices as we prepare for a big January and February — the World Financial Group Continental Cup, the TSN Casino-Rama Skins Game, the next Capital One Grand Slam in Oshawa and the Alberta Provincials. We also took in an Oilers game and Mike Babcock, who we got to know during the Olympic Games when he was coaching the Canadian Men’s hockey team, invited us out to teach the Detroit Red Wingshow to curl. I’m a big hockey fan so it was fun to be on the ice with the Red Wings. I also enjoyed watching a group of great athletes discover that curling is a very challenging sport.

I hope everyone had a great holiday season and is ready to enjoy the second half of the curling season.