The opening ceremonies for the 2022 Winter Olympics won’t officially kick off the Beijing Games until Friday, Feb. 4, but some athletes will begin playing as soon as Wednesday when the mixed doubles curling competition begins.
Ten teams will fight for gold in the two-player curling discipline, which is making its second appearance in the Winter Olympics.
Canada sends star power to mixed doubles competition
Unlike the traditional four-player game – which will come later on in the Olympic program – mixed doubles curling features smaller teams of one man and one woman. The players throw just five rocks per end. Each end begins with two rocks in play, and teams will play only eight ends per game. The result is a faster-paced game where draw weight is at a premium.
Canada won mixed doubles curling gold in 2018, which stunningly turned out to be the country’s only medal in the sport it traditionally dominates. John Morris is back from that gold medal squad, but this time he’s partnering with famed skip Rachel Homan. Four years ago, Homan skipped the Canadian women’s team to a disappointing sixth-place finish.
Regardless of that result, many rate Homan as the best women’s curler in the world, and Canada clearly boasts the most star power in the field. Canada also has a couple of world-class alternates ready to go in Lisa Weagle and Marc Kennedy, should COVID throw a wrench into its plans. DraftKings Sportsbook rates Canada as the +250 favorite to win another gold in mixed doubles curling.
“We clearly came to the decision that we wanted to select a highly ranked team with a lot of international experience,” Scott Pfeiffer, head of Canada’s mixed doubles program, said in explaining the country’s choice. “Jon and Rachel, with their experience at the Olympics, and John’s especially in mixed doubles, makes them a perfect team to represent Canada.”
Great Britain, Switzerland among top medal contenders
Canada’s road to gold won’t be easy. In its first game, it will face off against Great Britain (+300), the second choice for gold. Bruce Mouat will pull double duty for Great Britain, playing both mixed doubles and skipping its men’s team, which will also be a strong medal contender. He’s pairing up with Jennifer Dodds, who will also play second for Eve Muirhead’s rink in the women’s competition.
A couple of contenders are returning the same mixed doubles pairs who competed in the 2018 Olympics.
|Olympic Mixed Doubles Curling Odds (via DraftKings Sportsbook)|
|Canada: +250||Great Britain: +300|
|Switzerland: +400||Norway: +700|
|Sweden: +700||USA: +900|
|China: +1400||Czech Republic: +2500|
|Italy: +5000||Australia: +5000|
Jenny Perret and Martin Rios won silver medals for Switzerland at the 2018 Games, and return as a +400 pick to win gold this year. Norway (+700) returns with Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten, who made the medal round and won bronze four years ago after a Russian Olympic Committee player tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
Sweden (+700) also expects to be competitive with its team of Almida de Val and Oskar Eriksson. The United States (+900) boasts a capable team in Vicky Persinger and Chris Plys, who battled through the Olympic Qualification Event to secure their spot in Beijing.
The 10 mixed doubles curling teams will play a full round-robin, with the top four reaching the medal rounds. The final two teams will face off in the gold medal game on Tuesday, Feb. 8, a day before the men’s curling competition begins.