President hails "exceptional" Olympic mixed doubles curling debut

  • China's Dexin Ba and Rui Wang in action © WCF / Richard Gray

Curling officials and athletes are hoping the mixed doubles competition can be expanded at future Olympic Winter Games after the it's debut at the PyeongChang 2018 Games.

Eight teams competed in the inaugural competition but the World Curling Federation has already proposed a bigger team event for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

"It's the first time with eight teams in the Olympics but hopefully in the future we will get 16 teams," World Curling Federation president Kate Caithness said. "It's much easier for countries to find one man and one woman and it's fast and furious.

"We've already applied to have 16 teams for 2022 and we should hear in June and July.

"We will go forward to the programme commission and thereafter the recommendation will go to the IOC (International Olympic Committee) executive board, they take the decision."

Caithness said the first mixed doubles competition, won by Canada, had been an outstanding success that had exceeded the WCF's expectations.

"I'm absolutely delighted, it's been exceptional," she said.

"It's a different sport and it's different rules and you wonder how the public can embrace this sport, but it's been playing to packed stadiums and everybody's buzzing about it. It's chess on ice.

"We started the day before the Opening Ceremony and every day we played to packed stadiums

"The focus down here [at the curling venue] is that people have come to see curling and they've just fallen in love with it and people are coming back and back and now we're struggling for tickets."

Gold medallists John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes were not surprised at the positive reaction and also supported the proposal for more teams.

"I don't know what the magic number would be but expanding to at least 12 teams would be great and I think that the more teams you can get in here the better," Morris said.

Lawes said the eight-team format had been perfect for PyeongChang 2018 because it exhibited the very best teams but she agreed expansion would help raise the sport's profile.

"I think for the first Games, having an exclusive, really tough competition was really important to showcase the talent of the athletes," she said. "And now to be able to include more teams from the world playing in this wonderful event I think it's going to help grow the sport."

article provided by the Olympic Information Service