The World Seniors and Mixed Doubles Curling Championships might only be five days in, but the president of the World Curling Federation already likes what she sees.
“I think of course as soon as you say Olympic sport, Olympic discipline – then it becomes a whole new ballgame,” Kate Caithness said on Wednesday.
At the next Winter Olympics in South Korea, curlers will compete for medals in mixed doubles for the first time.
Doubles curling began in Europe about a decade ago but it’s been gaining traction in Canada ever since.
Kyle Shaw has been to every draw since the tournament began in Lethbridge on Saturday. He’s what you’d call a die-hard curling fan but this is the first time he’s seeing doubles in action.
“It’s pretty entertaining. It’s shorter which is nice for a lot of people and a lot of rocks in play,” Shaw said.
Bob Mouat is visiting all the way from Scotland. He’s in Lethbridge to watch his son compete and says he enjoys doubles action.
“The tactics are different, every end is different,” Mouat said.
But you don’t have to be an expert on the sport to enjoy the game.
“It looks good,” said Marshall Eliason, who drove in from Edmonton. “You can tell the crowd is into it and to me, that’s a good indicator of what’s happening in the game.”
A team consists of two players: one male and one female. But there’s debate over what combination makes the best team: A skip and a front end? Two front ends? Or is it two back ends?
“Having a skip would certainly help but so far the best team, (that) has been the American team and neither of them skip as far as I know,” Shaw said.
“I think if the dynamic is right between the two, any two players can play,” Mouat said
“This is what makes this sport even more special because it’s up to them how they perform,” Caithness said.
The 2018 Olympics will feature eight teams but Caithness says she’ll be pushing the International Olympic Committee to double that in 2022.