The International Olympic Committee’s ambitious Agenda 2020 programme, which marks the way forward for the Olympic Movement, includes a pledge to foster gender equality. Part of this will be accomplished through new, mixed team events – and curling is an early beneficiary.
As well as the traditional men’s and women’s curling events, PyeongChang 2018 will see mixed doubles make its Games debut. Two competitors – one male and one female – will compete in the new, faster discipline, which is played over eight ends instead of the usual 10, and with each team having only six stones rather than eight.
The format has already been recognised as a fascinating addition to the sport on an international level, with the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship being contested since 2008. The Swiss have dominated since then, lifting six titles; Hungary and Russia each won two of the other four.
Qualification will be determined by ranking points gained from the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championships held in 2016 and 2017; seven nations go through alongside hosts the Republic of Korea. Current champions Switzerland’s pairing of Jenny Perret and Martin Rios will be hoping to continue their dominance.
The mixed doubles take place before the men’s and women’s events get under way, and will involve four days of round robin play (8-11 February), with semi-finals on 12 February and the medal matches on 13 February.
Action takes place at the 3,500 capacity Gangneung Curling Centre. Opened in 1998, it was the only previously existing venue in the city, and has been renovated for PyeongChang 2018.
The curling world is certainly happy about the prospect of additional medals being awarded.
“Our athletes have showcased this exciting and dynamic alternative to traditional team curling at our World Mixed Doubles Championships for many years now,” World Curling Federation president Kate Caithness said. “We’re thrilled that their progress has been rewarded by the IOC’s decision.”