Island hosting provincial mixed doubles championships

LITTLE CURRENT—The Little Current Curling Club has the honour of hosting the mixed doubles provincial playdowns from February 14 to 16 where six of the best rinks in the sport that’s rapidly gaining popularity will compete for a berth at the nationals.

John Hodder, who is organizing the Northern Ontario event (in curling, Northern Ontario is considered its own province), explained that there is no one locally on the team, but curlers from Iroquois Falls, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury will make up the rinks.

The rules of mixed doubles are quite different from the standard game. According to one online source it consists of an eight-end game with two rocks in play at the start of each end (one for each team).

Starting in 2007, dedicated sweepers were eliminated to create a true “doubles” game, and any sweeping is to be done by either the thrower or the skip, the online source states.

According to the current rules of mixed doubles curling, two rocks, one for each team, are put in play at the start of each end. One rock is placed inside the house and the other rock is a guard. Five rocks are played per team, with scoring tallied as in team curling. One thrower must throw the first and last stones of each end, while the other thrower must throw the three stones in between. The assignment of which stones to throw by which player may be freely changed between ends, and is simply determined by who throws the first stone. Each team is given 48 minutes on the game clock, and (as an extension of the free-guard zone rule) stones may not be removed from play until the third stone in each end is thrown (effectively creating a “five-rock rule”).

There is an additional concept, known as the option, given to one of the teams, the site continues. The option is given to the team which did not score in the previous end (a draw to the button determines which team will have the option in the first end), and switches teams in the event of a blank end. The team with the option has the option to select which of the two rocks in play is theirs, with the hammer going to the team with the rock in the house.

The official opening of the event will take place on Friday, February 14 at 7 pm including a traditional bagpiper, the curlers from the little rock program making a presentation to the guests followed by the throwing of the first rock to mark the start of the mixed doubles playdowns.

Spectators are encouraged to come watch some great curling in this relatively new version of one of Canada’s favourite winter pasttimes.

Alicia McCutcheon