Curling is perfectly suited to the innovative mixed-gender format that will be used at the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games, according to Great Britain's Jamie Rankin.
Rankin, the son of an Olympic gold medallist curler, said men and women are equally well-equipped to prosper in the sport.
“There isn’t a skill difference between the male and female curlers, so it should be competitive,” said the 16-year-old. “The only real difference is that men play slightly bigger weight stones.”
The mixed doubles event will be contested by pairs formed of a female and male curler from different National Olympic Committees.
“It’s going to be interesting, the format is something very different so I’m really looking forward to it,” said Rankin, the son of Janice Rankin (GBR), who won a curling gold medal at Salt Lake City 2002.
“A mixed gender competition is still pretty uncommon in curling and the mixed NOC competition will be a great chance to make new friends,” he added.
As well as being ideal for mixed-gender competition, Rankin believes curling is well suited to the multi-national format.
“Tactically, there is a real universal language to curling, so it shouldn’t be too hard to team up with a different nation,” he said.
🥌Destiny's child Jamie Rankin - son of Olympic🥇medallist Janice Rankin - among those selected by @TeamGB for @lausanne2020 Youth Olympic Games❄️— British Curling (@BritishCurling) 18 December 2019
➡️ https://t.co/QscFyqVcgQ#Lausanne #YouthOlympics #curling #scottishcurling pic.twitter.com/juR5TisUWo
“The key thing to sort out between any new team of curlers is how each of you approach things mentally. If you play a bad shot, you might be the sort of person who likes to analyse it, or you might be the sort of person who just wants to have a minute on their own.
“You need to understand each other’s mental approach and try to learn as much about your opposition as you can, too. If you do that, you can form a great team.
“This format is also a great way to promote mixing between different nations. It’ll be exciting to see who you get paired up with.”
The 48 mixed doubles teams will play each other in a direct elimination format from January 18-22, with the pairings decided by the results of the mixed team event, which takes place from January 10-16.
The earlier event will be contested by teams formed of two women and two men from the same NOC. The 24 sides are divided into four groups of six, playing round-robin games with the top two qualifying for the quarterfinals.
Canada, the most successful Olympic curling nation and winner of gold at Lillehammer 2016 and bronze at Innsbruck 2012, will be the team to beat.