Curling's mixed doubles discipline set for historic Olympic debut

  • Korea's Kijeong Lee Photos: © WCF / Richard Gray

History will be made at the Gangneung Curling Centre at 9:05 on Thursday 8 February when eight qualified pairings step onto the ice to contest the opening games of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 mixed doubles competition.

With the opening ceremony taking place on Friday 9 February, this will be the very first action of the entire 2018 Olympic Winter Games. This session of round-robin play will also mark the first Olympic appearance by curling's new 21st century discipline.

The World Curling Federation Member Associations that have qualified for this event - in finishing order after the two-year qualification programme - are: China, Canada, Russia - whose qualification slot will be taken by Olympic Athletes from Russia - Switzerland, United States, Norway, Finland and, as hosts, Korea.

China's Rui Wang and her partner Dexin Ba took bronze in the 2017 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championships, and while Wang will be making her Olympic debut, Ba finished fourth in the 2014 Olympic men's team competition.

Canada will be represented by Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris. Both are previous team curling Olympic champions, however this will be their first international appearance in this discipline.

Olympic Athletes from Russia, Anastasia Bryzgalova and Aleksandr Krushelnitckii, won gold at the 2016 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship and finished ninth last year.

Switzerland's Jenny Perret and Martin Rios are the current world mixed doubles champions, having won their title in Lethbridge, Canada last season.

Sister and brother Becca and Matt Hamilton of the United States will both be appearing in the team competitions later in the Games, as well as the mixed doubles, while Kristin Moen Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten, who represent Norway, finished fifth in last year's world championship.

The Finnish duo - Oona Kauste and Tomi Rantamaki - finished seventh in the last two world championships to become Finland's only representatives in 2018 Olympic curling competition and the host nation is represented by Hyeji Jang and her partner Kijeong Lee, who finished sixth in the 2017 world championship.

The opening games will be the first of seven - twice-a-day - round-robin sessions to take place. These will produce the top four teams to compete in the play-offs and will conclude on the morning of Sunday 11 February, with that evening reserved for tie-breakers if needed.

After that, the semi-finals will see the top-ranked team play the fourth ranked team, while the second and third-placed teams face each other in two sessions (09:05 and 20:05) on Monday 12 February.

Bronze medals will be decided on the morning of Tuesday 13 February, at 09:05, with gold and silver medals being contested that evening at 20:05. All times above are Korean Standard Time (KST), +9 hours from Greenwich Mean Time/Universal Coordinated Time.

Men's team curling featured in the inaugural Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix, France in 1924 and the sport re-appeared in the modern era with both women's and men's teams competing at the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan. Now, Mixed Doubles Curling is added to the sport's Olympic participation.

Instead of playing in teams of four, Mixed Doubles Curling is for teams of two players - one female and one male (no alternate/spare player is allowed). The game is played on the same sheets of ice as team curling, with some differences, including:

  • Teams have only six stones each (instead of eight) and one of those stones, from each team, is prepositioned before each end of play starts.
  • Player one delivers the first and last stones and player two plays the second, third and fourth stones. If they choose to, the two players may swap positions from one end to the next.
  • Sweeping can be done by both team members.
  • Games last up to eight ends, compared to ten ends in team curling.

Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 Mixed Doubles Curling schedule, www.worldcurling.org/owg2018/schedule

Get to know the mixed doubles athletes, www.worldcurling.org/owg2018/mixed-doubles-teams-one | www.worldcurling.org/owg2018/mixed-doubles-teams-two

To follow the build-up to and coverage from the Games, follow the World Curling Federation on Twitter, Instagram (@worldcurling) and Facebook (/WorldCurlingFederation) and use the hashtags: #curling #PyeongChang2018