Love is rock solid for couples in mixed doubles curling

  • Norway's Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten Photo © WCF / Richard Gray

Curling may not seem the most conventional way of finding a spouse or partner, but in the mixed doubles competition at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games a couple of pairs have combined romance with their quest for gold.

Anastasia Bryzgalova and Aleksandr Krushelnitckii (OAR) married last summer after first meeting through junior curling competitions in Russia.

"We've been dating for about six years now," Bryzgalova said. "Although there's a lot of pressure out there, I don't see any disadvantages to competing with your partner.

"We both have one goal. We support each other better and we know each other better through playing together."

It initially appeared less idyllic for Norway's Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregottem, who have been dating since 2012 after meeting through the sport. While this encouraged them to take up mixed doubles together, it has at times caused tension in their relationship.

"We started off as just friends," Skaslien said. "Then it kind of developed, we began dating. Magnus had his men's team and I used to play with my ladies' team. And then we decided to play mixed doubles together as it was our common hobby, so why not do it together?

"But it hasn't always strengthened our relationship. We can have quite a big argument out there on the ice, which can lead to a lot of discussions afterwards."

Skaslien says she is prone to nagging her boyfriend on the ice and, at times in the past, tension between them during matches has led to mistakes in the heat of the action.

"Especially in the beginning, we could get really angry at each other," she said. "One time, one of these rows led to Magnus actually playing the wrong colour. We were red, and he got confused mid-match and thought we were yellow.

"So he was throwing this guard and I shouted, 'No, no, no!' And he turned to me and was like, 'But it's a perfect shot?' And I said, 'No, it's not, because we're red'."

The couple eventually tried to resolve their issues by turning to a sports psychologist, who also acted as a relationship therapist. "He made us realise how each of us reacts out on the field, and accept that we're different," Skaslien said.

"In stressful situations, Magnus likes to give me all this information because that's the way he is. But I can get a bit stressed out there and sometimes I just really want to go into the zone, and I don't want to hear all these details.

"But now I know he's only telling me this because he wants us to do the best we can. So it's about me accepting that's the way he is and not letting it affect me. We've been really lucky to have him. This season has been really good for us and thanks to him we've learnt to take deep breaths at times and keep focused during matches."

After a fine start to the mixed doubles competition, in which they have won four of their opening five matches (after the morning session on Saturday 10 February), it seems to be paying dividends on the biggest stage.

"I've still been doing some nagging at times but we've tried to smile as well," Skaslien said. "Our dynamic could be worse. We do still have our arguments and discussions but it's just the way we are. It's working. And it's a real adventure to experience all of this with your boyfriend, that's for sure."

For Nedregotten, competing at PyeongChang 2018 with his girlfriend symbolises the essence of the Olympic Games. "This is the root of the Olympic spirit," he said. "We're sharing the same passion, sharing our hobby and trying to make dreams together."

article provided by the Olympic Information Service