Switzerland’s Martin Rios shares Olympic experience one year on from mixed doubles’ debut

  • Switzerland’s mixed doubles Olympic silver medallist, Martin Rios, at the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games © WCF / Richard Gray

One year ago today (8 February) eight mixed doubles teams at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, in PyeongChang, South Korea, made history. They became the first mixed doubles teams to step on the ice at the Olympic Winter Games.

The PyeongChang Games marked the debut for curling’s new, fast paced discipline – mixed doubles. One female and one male player compose a team, making curling one of most gender equal Olympic sports.

Curling is already one of the lengthiest sports at the Olympics, with competition underway every single day of the Games. Adding mixed doubles into the schedule was a welcomed challenge, simply meaning curling began one day before the opening ceremonies.

So, how did mixed doubles do at its first Olympics? What did the athletes and fans think? What were some of the most memorable moments? We spoke with mixed doubles Olympic silver medallist and 2017 mixed doubles world champion, Martin Rios of Switzerland. Martin competed alongside his long-time teammate, Jenny Perret, where they faced Canada in the Olympic gold medal game at the Gangneung Curling Centre in South Korea.

How do you reflect on your experience at the PyeongChang Olympics after one year?

MR: Well, the Olympics were… hopefully not a once in a lifetime experience, because the Olympics are so special. Having all of the other sports there, for me, it’s an incredible time.

Outside of medalling, what are some of the moments you remember the most?

MR: There are different moments. The opening ceremony was a rush for us – just to be part of our national team. The team came so much bigger in one or two days because usually we are used to traveling around with four people and there the team consists of 170 athletes and coaches. There wasn’t a particular moment, it was everything within the two weeks. Everyone with a Swiss jacket would ask how your game went and it was very motivating.

How can you describe the energy in the athletes’ village?

MR: I think it’s hard to describe. One part was being part of this big Swiss team. The other thing that was special for me was that you’re in such a small space – the Olympic Village – and there are a lot of different countries and languages and cultures. It’s really special to get to know other people from around the world. Sometimes you struggle a little bit with them, the languages, but you still communicate. These were unique moments.

What are your thoughts on how mixed doubles’ debut went at the Olympics?

MR: Well everyone who is not a curler, told me that they liked mixed doubles at the Olympics more than the traditional curling. Because it’s faster and maybe more interesting to watch – I know among curlers there’s a debate about that! But I know a lot of non-curlers like it. So hopefully that helps grow the discipline a little bit.

What do you think about the mixed doubles field for Beijing 2022 Olympics being expanded from eight to ten teams?

MR: Of course, it’s a positive but it would have been good to get even more teams. I think the original idea of mixed doubles was also to get more countries involved. You only need one male and one female player. For traditional curling in small countries it’s hard to find four players who put in this dedication. You need to battle the best and in mixed doubles you just need two people. But in the end, we were more or less the same countries, Sweden and Great Britain were missing [from the field], but the traditional countries were there. It’s good to grow, but it would be better to grow a little bit more. But for now, let’s go step by step.

We have to ask, are your thoughts now shifted towards Beijing 2022?

Of course, the main goal is Beijing. But, just like in mixed doubles, we have to take it step by step. It’s going to be a challenge, but a challenge is good! We will try our best and see what happens.

The next chance to catch international mixed doubles play will be at the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship is being hosted in Stavanger, Norway from 20-27 April. To follow the build-up towards that event, visit: http://www.worldcurling.org/wmdcc2019

To engage with the World Curling Federation on social media follow it on Twitter, Instagram (@worldcurling) and Facebook (/WorldCurlingFederation) and use #curling when posting.