Lethbridge: Following the successful Ford World Men’s Curling Championship 2017 in Edmonton, the international curling spotlight stays in the Canadian province of Alberta.
On Saturday 22 April competition gets underway in the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship 2017 at the brand new state-of-the-art ATB Centre in Lethbridge.
This is the tenth edition of this event, and the second to take place since mixed doubles was confirmed as a new discipline on the programme of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, Republic of Korea. It is also the second time that the World Mixed Doubles has been held in Canada, with Fredericton, New Brunswick acting as host in 2013.
This is the second of two championships at which Olympic Qualification Points are available. Therefore, by the end of this championship the eight Member Associations – from a field of 39 teams – to compete at the Games will be known.
16 teams will gain Qualification Points from this event and the seven Member Associations with the most points from 2016 and 2017 will gain qualification to the Games and join hosts Korea, whose place is already guaranteed, in PyeongChang.
With a total of 39 teams involved, from the World Curling Federation’s three zones – Americas, European and Pacific-Asia – the global popularity of mixed doubles continues.
Instead of playing in teams of four, mixed doubles curling is for teams of two players – one male and one female. The game is played on the same sheets of ice as ‘traditional’ curling but, with some differences, including:
- Teams have only six stones each (instead of eight) and one of those stones, from each team, is prepositioned before each end of play starts.
- Player one delivers the first and last stones and player two plays the second, third and fourth stones. If they choose to, the two players may swap positions from one end to the next.
- Sweeping can be done by both team members.
- Each team receives 22 minutes of thinking time and games are fixed at eight ends – compared to 38 minutes and ten ends for ‘traditional’ curling.
The teams involved this year have been divided into five groups. They are:
Group A: Belarus, Brazil, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Japan, and Latvia
Group B: Bulgaria, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Scotland, Serbia, and Wales
Group C: Australia, Austria, China, Israel, Korea, Netherlands, Poland, and Sweden
Group D: hosts Canada, Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Kazakhstan, Turkey and USA
Group E: New Zealand, Romania, defending champions Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Switzerland
Round-robin play gets underway on Saturday 22 April and continues until Thursday 27 April. After tie-breakers if needed, the 16 top-ranked teams will play in a head-to-head, knock-out format. Winners will continue to the quarter-finals and onwards to the medal games at 16.00 on Saturday 29 April – this time is minus six Universal Coordinated Time. Losers of the last-16 games will play additional games to establish their final ranking.
Two medal teams from last year’s championship in Karlstad, Sweden return for this event. They are defending champions Anastasia Brygalova and Alexander Krushelnitskiy of Russia and Rui Wang and Dexin Ba of China who won silver medals in 2016. Recent World Women’s champion, Joanne Courtney – who played second for Rachel Homan’s team in Beijing – pairs up with Reid Carruthers, as the host nation seek Olympic qualification.
Also, a number of family pairings will aim for Olympic qualification, for their Member Associations, in Lethbridge. Brothers and sisters from England (Anna and Ben Fowler), New Zealand (Bridget and Scott Becker), Spain (Irantzu and Gontzal Garcia) and USA (Becca and Matt Hamilton) will compete. Meanwhile, mother Lynn and son Dean Hewitt will compete for Australia; father Neil and daughter Alison Fyfe will represent Ireland and husband and wife Per and Camilla Noreen will turn-out for Sweden.
At the same time as staging the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship 2017, Lethbridge will also act as host to the men’s and women’s World Senior Curling Championships 2017. These will also be held in the ATB Centre.