So, you’re watching mixed doubles curling for the first time in the Winter Olympics and wondering what’s going on?
We’ll admit, the rules can be confusing — especially when regular curling is tricky enough to figure out — but we don’t judge and are here to help.
While it’s played on the same kind of ice sheet and using identical equipment and rocks, there are some key differences from the traditional four-person team event. Here are the rules you need to know.
A brief history of mixed doubles curling
Mixed doubles curling started as part of the Continental Cup, a Ryder Cup-style tournament with Canada and the U.S. teaming up to take on the rest of the world.
A world mixed doubles curling championship has been held annually since 2008. Switzerland leads the way with six titles while Russia and Hungary have won two each.
A total of 39 countries competed in last year’s world mixed doubles curling championship as the sport has caught on globally. In 2015 it was announced mixed doubles curling had been added to the 2018 Winter Games schedule and make its Olympic debut in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Number of players
Each team consists of one male and one female player as oppose to four players of the same gender in the traditional game that we’ll see later in the Winter Olympics.
Number of rocks & scoring
Teams have six stones each although they actually only throw five of them.
The team with the hammer (throwing second in order) has one rock pre-positioned on the centre line behind the button in the house with one rock from the opposing team guarding it about a broom-length away from the top of the house in the free-guard zone.
Player one throws the first and last rocks while the second player delivers the middle three. The players can switch positions between ends.
The teams alternate throwing their rocks until all of them have been played.
Last-rock advantage, or the hammer, is determined by a draw-to-the-button shootout by all players prior to the start of the match.
After both teams have finished throwing their rocks, the team with the most rocks closer to the pin of the button (the centre of the house) than their opponent’s nearest rock scores a corresponding amount of points. This is the team with the hammer usually since they throw last, however, the team without the hammer can also “steal” points if the other team is unable to eliminate their closest rock(s).
Just one team can score per end and since each team only has six rocks, a maximum of six points can be scored in each end.
When a rock is thrown, the second player can sweep the rock or remain the house to keep an eye on the path while the shooter gets up and sweeps the rock themselves.
Number of ends
Each period of play is called an end and mixed doubles curling is played to eight ends. Traditional curling in the Winter Olympics goes to …read more