Pared-down versions of sports have become part of the Olympics with the selling points being they are faster and more kinetic than the full versions of the sports, take up less time in both game and tournament length, and don’t bloat the Athletes Village with excessive numbers.
You can see the attraction to the IOC of now having sevens rugby and three-on-three basketball in the Summer Games and mixed-pairs curling in the Winter Games. Island fans can get a taste of the latter in the World Curling Tour Victoria Mixed Doubles taking place Friday to Saturday at the Esquimalt Curling Club.
“It’s definitely different than traditional [fours] curling. It’s much faster paced and quicker. It’s for the more active person,” said Connar Croteau, organizer of the Victoria Mixed Doubles, which counts for World Curling Tour points.
Mixed-doubles curling is also part of the growing trend of mixed-gender Olympic events such as the triathlon relay, 4x400 mixed track relay, 4x100 mixed-medley swim relay, three mixed-team shooting events, mixed-team archery and mixed-team judo in the Summer Olympics and mixed-team snowboard-cross, ski jumping, ski aerials and short-track speed skating in the Winter Olympics.
All the boxes will be ticked this weekend in Esquimalt.
“Mixed-doubles curling is part of a trend and this version of the sport is growing, all the way up to the Olympics since 2018 [when it was introduced in the Pyeongchang, South Korea, Winter Games],” said Croteau.
“And we have assembled some of the most talented curlers in the province here this weekend for our event.”
That includes Croteau himself as the 28-year-old out of the Victoria Curling Club has placed third and fourth in the past two provincial championships with playing partner Karly King Simpson of Comox.
“There are still not a lot of big events for mixed doubles and I thought I would bring the event to me,” said Croteau, of his dual player/organizer capacity this weekend.
Other notable teams among the 20 include Grand Slam champion Jim Cotter, who has 10 Brier national men’s championship appearances, and Jaelyn Cotter. Diane Gushulak, who has four Scottie’s Tournament of Hearts national women’s championship appearances, is playing with Patrick Prade. Scottie’s veteran Sarah Wark is with playing-partner Keith Clarke. Two-time world junior men’s champion Sterling Middleton is paired with Emily Bowles. Two-time B.C. junior men’s champion Corey Chester and Kayla Wilson, who have both reached the podium at the B.C. mixed championships with other partners, are another pair to watch for.
Draw times are Friday at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., Saturday at 9 a.m. and 12:30, 3:15, 6:30, 9:15 p.m. and Sunday with the semifinals at 7:30 a.m. and final at 10:15 a.m. Admission is free.
Croteau said the plan is to make this an annual event.