With the curling mixed doubles event poised to make its Olympic debut at PyeongChang 2018, we turn back the clock 12 months to the two mixed curling events held at Lillehammer 2016…
In a year’s time, the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 will see curling mixed doubles make its debut as an Olympic event. But while this will be the first time the event has been staged at an Olympic Winter Games, it has already been held at two editions of the Winter Youth Olympic Games.
While the event is played on the same sheets of ice as ‘traditional’ curling, there are some key differences. Instead of playing in teams of four, the mixed doubles event is for teams of two players – one male and one female, with no alternates.
Each team has only six stones, instead of eight, and one of those stones from each team is prepositioned on the centre line before each end of play starts.
Twelve months ago in Lillehammer, the competition provided plenty of highlights as boys and girls from different National Olympic Committees joined forces to play as doubles.
The 32 teams produced some interesting combinations, with athletes often needing to overcome a language barrier.
“We have communicated with a lot of hand gestures,” explained Great Britain skip Ross Whyte after partnering up with China lead Yu Han. “But because curling is universal we’re getting on fine.”
Whyte and Yu would go on to reach the final, where they faced Japan’s Yako Matsuzawa and Switzerland’s Philipp Hoesli, who, at 14, was the youngest curler in the competition.
Hoesli had earlier won bronze alongside his Swiss team-mates in the mixed team event, while Matsuzawa was vice-skip of the Japanese team that won only one of their seven games.
The duo clearly worked well together, however, as they overcame Whyte and Yu 11-5 to win YOG gold, with Matsuzawa becoming the first Japanese curler to win an Olympic medal.
“I feel so happy now, because I got the medal that I really wanted,” she said after the final. “It's awesome,” added Hoesli. “I'm so, so happy and I can't believe it right now.”
IOCAnd in a year’s time, two more athletes will be pinching themselves as they celebrate the first-ever Olympic medals in mixed doubles curling.