Curl P.E.I. keen to capitalize on mixed doubles after Olympic debut

Curl P.E.I. says it's preparing for a huge spike in the number of mixed doubles curlers on the Island. The relatively new version of curling was featured at the Winter Olympics for the first time, with Canada winning gold on Tuesday morning.

Group planning to offer more league play, tournaments, and junior programming in response to 'positive buzz'

Canada's Kaitlyn Lawes, left, sweeps as John Morris shouts instructions during a mixed doubles match at the Olympics. (Aaron Favila/Associated Press)

Curl P.E.I. says it's preparing for a huge spike in the number of mixed doubles curlers on the Island. 

The relatively new version of curling was featured at the Winter Olympics for the first time, with Canada winning gold on Tuesday morning

Curl P.E.I. president Andrew Robinson says throughout the week of Olympic coverage, Island curling clubs received plenty of calls from people keen to try the sport. 

"It's gotten a lot of positive buzz," Robinson said. "This is almost a brand new way of playing the sport with different strategy. It's very fast, it's very active, you're sweeping your own rocks. It's an exciting new way for people to experience the sport as participants and viewers."

Andrew Robinson, president of Curl P.E.I., calls mixed doubles curling a 'brand new way of playing the sport with a different strategy.' (Stephanie Brown/CBC)

P.E.I. has held provincial championships in mixed doubles curling in each of the past four years. 

But Robinson said until this year, it's been difficult to find participants. Just two teams entered last year, with one pulling out at the last minute. 

It's an exciting new way for people to experience the sport as participants and viewers.— Andrew Robinson, president, Curl P.E.I. 

At this year's tournament in early February, however, eight teams signed up.  

Robinson credits January's Canadian Olympic trials for the sudden jump in interest. That event was broadcast nationally, and saw Island curler Brett Gallant and his partner Jocelyn Peterman make it all the way to the semifinal. 

"With the Olympic curling trials on TV, leading to the Olympics,  a lot of curling fans and curlers themselves have gotten interested," Robinson said. "We've now really got an opportunity to introduce [mixed doubles curling] across the spectrum."

Island curler Brett Gallant's strong performance at the Canadian Olympic trials helped generate more interest in mixed doubles curling across the province, Curl P.E.I. says. (The Canadian Press)

Curl P.E.I. plans to work with the Island's seven curling clubs to set up more league play, tournaments and junior programming.  

Robinson said the timing is right to grow the sport, particularly at the junior level.  Mixed doubles curling will be a part of the 2023 Canada Winter Games, which P.E.I. is hosting.