Mixed doubles curling, explained
Learn the basics, from pre-positioned stones to the power play
If you're not familiar with mixed doubles curling, don't worry, you're not alone.
Here's what you need to know about the newer, quirkier version of the traditional sport, which makes its Olympic debut in February.
The basics are relatively simple. Each team consists of only two players — one man, one woman. Each team throws five stones per end, with the player delivering the team's first stone of the end also delivering the team's final stone of the end. The game lasts eight ends. The scoring is the same as in regular curling.
Then it gets a little more complicated.
The major difference between regular curling and mixed doubles is the positioning of two stones — one per team — before the beginning of each end. These rocks can end up counting for points if they make their way into the house.
The team with the hammer (last rock) chooses where to place these two stones. If that team elects to place its stone in the back of the 4-foot circle of the house and the opposing team's stone as the centre guard, then the opposing team delivers the first stone of the end. If it opts for the reverse, then it delivers the first stone of the end.
A modified version of the free guard zone is also in effect: no stone in play, including the "positioned" stones, can be taken out prior to the delivery of the fourth stone of each end.
The power play
Canadians know all about a power play in hockey, but here's how it works in mixed doubles curling.
The power play can be used once per game by each team, when it has the decision on the placement of the "positioned" stones (though it's not allowed if the game goes to an extra end).
When the power play is invoked, the in-house stone (which, remember, belongs to the team with last stone in that end) is placed with its back edge touching the tee line, with half of the stone resting in the 8-foot circle and half in the 12-foot. The guard stone is positioned to the side of the sheet so it protects the in-house stone.
As a bonus, no one has to spend time in a penalty box.