ARTHUR – A mixed doubles curling bonspiel held here last weekend held the potential to be a stop on the road to the Olympics for some of the participants.
The Walker Industries Mixed Doubles Spiel, part of the Ontario Mixed Doubles Curling Tour, featured local and area teams, as well as international entries from Slovokia and South Korea.
Tournament organizer Keith Martin of the Arthur Curling Club explained mixed doubles competition, which features two-person teams and modified rules, is a relatively new innovation to the sport.
“It’s a new discipline that World Curling Association (WCA) has got started. And this is the first year of a four-year Olympic cycle … from now until the end of the four years, they get certain points for these events. It’s a matter of accumulating points to see where you land,” said Martin.
“Mixed doubles came out of Europe to start with, because over there some of the clubs are small enough that they had problems trying to get enough people together to make a four-man team.
“So they started the two-person teams and play the game a wee little bit different than what the normal league is played.”
The game begins with two stones pre-placed, a guard stone ahead of the house and another rock of the opposite colour at the back of the four-foot circle.
Teams then throw only five rocks per end, rather than the usual eight. The pre-placed rocks stones can count toward scoring.
Martin said the local club had hoped to draw 16 curlers for the event, but ended up with only 10 due to the high number of other curling events going on during the Jan. 6 to 8 weekend.
Martin said the local event was sanctioned by both the WCA and the Canadian Curling Association and the club plans to make it an annual event, but is looking to move it to October to avoid competing with other similar events.
Wade Scoffin, a curling coach from the Yukon, was on hand at the event watching his proteges from Slovakia, Paulina Hadjuk and Jan Horacek.
Scoffin, who has worked with the team at European events in the past, said they chose to enter the Arthur tournament for an opportunity to compete in North America.
“It’s a situational opportunity, combined with other reasons to be in Canada,” including a family wedding, he explained.