Mixed doubles Olympic curling trials: What you need to know
Stacked field includes past Olympic, world and Canadian champions
It's only been two years since mixed doubles curling was introduced to the Olympic program, and since then Curling Canada has been working to ensure this curling-crazed country sends its best to the 2018 Games.
The tournament to determine which pairing will represent Canada when this quirky version of curling makes its Olympic debut in Pyeongchang, South Korea begins on Tuesday (CBCSports.ca, 9 a.m. ET) in Portage la Prairie, Man.
Every draw will be live streamed on CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app. In addition, coverage of the final two days of the event, including the playoffs and final, will be available on CBC TV as part of the Road to the Olympic Games broadcast.
The field is stacked and includes past Olympic, world and Canadian champions:
- Jennifer Jones & Mark Nichols
- Val Sweeting & Brad Gushue
- Dawn McEwen & Mike McEwen
- Kaitlyn Lawes & John Morris
- Chelsea Carey & Colin Hodgson
- Jill Officer & Reid Carruthers
- Sherry Middaugh & John Epping
- Dana Ferguson & Brendan Bottcher
- Shannon Birchard & Jason Gunnlaugson
- Jocelyn Peterman & Brett Gallant
- Kalynn Park & Charley Thomas
- Laura Crocker & Geoff Walker
- Nancy Martin & Catlin Schneider
- Marliese Kasner & Dustin Kalthoff
- Kim Tuck & Wayne Tuck
- Emilie Desjardins & Robert Desjardins
- Nicole Westlund Stewart & Tyler Stewart
- Sherry Just & Tyrel Griffith
Top 8 advance to playoff round
Eighteen teams will play six draws daily at Stride Place Tuesday through Thursday. The teams are split into two, nine-team pools, with seedings based on the Canadian mixed doubles rankings.
They will all play one game against the teams within their pools before eight teams (first and second in each pool, and the next four best win-loss records) move onto the playoffs.
The top eight teams will advance to the playoff round. The opening round of that eight-team playoff begins on Friday. The championship game is set for Sunday afternoon.
How it works
If you're not familiar with mixed doubles curling, don't worry, you're not alone.
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.
Curling's 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 match 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.
Mixed doubles curling, featuring eight countries, gets underway the day before the opening ceremonies on Feb. 8, and will conclude with the gold- and bronze-medal games on Feb. 13.