Mixed championship to remain on Canadian curling calendar
The Canadian Curling Association has no plans to do away with the 47-year-old mixed curling championship following the introduction of mixed doubles trials.
The chief executive officer of the CCA says the annual Canadian mixed championship that has run since 1964, and features teams made up of two men and two women, will remain on the calendar.
"The Canadian mixed fours continues on," Greg Stremlaw said Monday from Ottawa.
A new mixed doubles trials March 14-17, 2013, in Leduc, Alta., will determine Canada's representative at the world mixed doubles championship April 13-20 in Fredericton, N.B.
Teams are made up one male and one female in mixed doubles.
It's a relatively new curling event and one the World Curling Federation wants to see in the Winter Olympics by 2018.
Switzerland has won four of the five world doubles championships to date.
Previously, the four curlers who won the Canadian mixed championship elected a male and female from their team to play in the world mixed doubles.
Now, the mixed foursome that prevails Nov. 15-24 in Mont-Royal, Que., will break into two pairings and join 30 other Canadian teams at doubles trials in Leduc.
"It eliminates the problem of deciding who gets to go from the winning team that wins the nationals, which is not easy having to choose two players," said Winnipeg's Sean Grassie, who won world doubles bronze with Allison Nimik in 2009.
"That's definitely the best part about it."
But Grassie isn't enthusiastic about having so many teams able to enter the Canadian trials.
The 14 provinces and territories will each choose a team to represent them, but the remaining 16 entries will be open invitations.
A team's participation will be decided by their ranking on the CCA's order of merit.
Stremlaw says residency rules won't apply, so a male from Ontario could conceivably team up with a female from B.C.
"I couldn't really call this a true national championship if teams can have curlers from different provinces and don't have to qualify to get in," Grassie explained. "That part I don't like about it.
"If you keep it every province represented, and I don't mind including two teams that win nationals as a reward, I don't have a problem with that."
In mixed doubles, games are eight ends instead of 10. Each team has six stones to throw with one positioned on the centre line before every end of play.
One player throws the first and last stones while the other throws the second, third and fourth. Both team members can sweep the stones.
If the International Olympic Committee accepts mixed doubles into the Winter Games, Canada needs curlers who specialize in the event, Stremlaw said.
"We feel the latest mechanism will do a better job of producing consistent podium results," he said.
He expects the IOC to decide on the 2018 Winter Games program in late 2013 or early 2014.
Canada's elite curlers only play mixed doubles in the Continental Cup of Curling, which is a Ryder-Cup-style curling competition between North America and Europe.
Olympic inclusion could encourage more clubs and curlers to participate in mixed doubles, said Grassie.
"I think if it gets into the Olympics, it will get more exposure," he stated. "It's not a bad idea for clubs if they're looking to fill some empty sheets because the game goes by so fast and you can play in an hour and you only need two players."