Mixed feelings

JIM BENDER

, Last Updated: 7:48 AM ET

While Europeans have pounced on the relatively new concept like kids at Christmas, some of those closer to home are reserving their judgment.

A slightly different version of the Mixed Doubles competition was first unveiled at the first Continental Cup back in 2002. After failing to get a singles competition added as an Olympic medal sport, the World Curling Federation turned to Mixed Doubles. But, to get accepted, it had to establish a world championship and the first one was played in Finland last year.

The Europeans loved it. The North Americans? Not so much.

"It's interesting but, as a fan, I'd say there's not as much sweeping and not as much yelling during the games," Jill Officer said before leaving for this year's Continental Cup, which starts in Camrose, Alta., tomorrow.

SECOND TRIP

This is Officer's second trip to the Continental Cup where she observed her skip, Jennifer Jones, and third, Cathy Overton-Clapham, play Mixed Doubles.

"The strategy's different because you start the game with one rock in the house and a tight guard out front, then throw six rocks," said Officer, who once won the four-person Manitoba Mixed title at third for Terry McNamee.

"But it's so quiet. You don't get the drama of a skip screaming at the sweepers to get a rock to skinny a guard and the adrenaline that goes with it."

At the first couple of Continental Cups, there were designated sweepers who did not throw a single rock. In the current version, a thrower must brush his or her own rock. That is difficult for someone like Officer who throws right but also sweeps on the right side of the rock. (Try it).

But, just like the move toward eight-end games, Mixed Doubles is catching on. And that could kill the four-person Mixed, which has never actually had a world championship of its own.

"That's because the Canadian Curling Association would have to develop a national championship so curlers would play the kind of games that are going to the Olympics," Officer said. "But I really enjoyed (four-person) Mixed and I could see myself playing that again in the future. But the social aspect would be no different in the two-man."

In fact, should Mixed Doubles become an Olympic medal sport, both men's and women's doubles could be added as disciplines. If they become popular, that would set up new ways for curling clubs to lure new patrons, CCA director Mitch Tarapasky suggested on 1290 CFRW's Rock Talk Show on Monday.

You can get a chance to see Mixed Doubles for yourself as TSN is televising the event for the first time both tomorrow and Friday at 2 p.m.

Of course, that is only one of a number of different events that the Jones foursome will be playing as part of Team North America. The others include singles, skins and regular games.

"It is different because you become part of a much bigger team," Officer said. "But it's a really good time and a really fun event."

TWO-MAN SPIEL: You can try playing doubles yourselves as the Pembina Curling Club is offering a bonspiel between Christmas and New Year's. Contact the Pembina for more info.

SR ZONES: Pembina's Lionel Walz has been deemed the No. 1 seed for the senior men's city zone playdowns, which will be played at both the Victoria and Grain Exchange Curling Clubs today through Sunday. Fort Rouge's Ron Westcott, Clare DeBlonde and Mark Franklin are the second, third and fifth seeds, respectively. West Kildonan's Carl German is No. 4.

Fort Garry's Chris Scalena is the No. 1 seed for the senior women's city zone playdowns, being played at the Grain Ex, Friday through Sunday.


Videos

Photos