World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship begins Saturday

Hungary's Dorottya Palancsa and Zsolt Kiss will be looking to repeat their 2013 championship win this year Photo: WCF/Richard Gray

The international curling spotlight returns to the Ice Cube Curling Centre in Sochi, Russia on Saturday 18 April when competition gets underway in the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship 2015.

The eighth edition of this event (the inaugural Championship took place in Vierumaki, Finland in 2008) will take place in the same venue that hosted the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games curling competitions.

A total of 30 teams will take part this year, from Asia; Australasia; Europe; North and South America, which shows that this discipline continues to grow around the world.

The teams involved this year have been divided into three groups. Group A includes Australia; Czech Republic; Denmark; France; Japan; Russia; Slovakia; Switzerland; Turkey; and the USA.

Group B is comprised of Austria; Brazil; China; Finland; Italy; Latvia; New Zealand; Norway; Slovenia and Sweden.

Group C includes teams representing Belarus; Canada; England; Estonia; Hungary; Korea; Poland; Romania; Scotland and Spain.

A number of athletes competing this year have won medals at this event in the past.

They include 2013 gold medallists Dorottya Palancsa and Zsolt Kiss from Hungary; 2010 gold medal winner Peter Dron from Russia; 2014 and 2012 silver medallists Camilla Johansson and Per Noréen from Sweden and Spain’s Irantzu Garcia Vez, a bronze medallist at last year’s event in Dumfries, Scotland.

Several other athletes participating this year have enjoyed success on the international stage.

Carole Howald from Switzerland is a 2015 and 2014 World Women’s Curling Championship gold medallist, in addition to winning the Le Gruyere European Curling Championships last year, all as an alternate.

Her teammate, Marc Pfister, skipped Switzerland men to a seventh place finish at the Ford World Men’s Curling Championship 2015 that concluded earlier this month in Halifax, Canada.

The Olympians in the field include: Kalle Kiiskinen (Finland, Silver Medallist - Turin 2006), Denise Dupont (Denmark - Turin 2006 and Vancouver 2010), Dan Mustapic (New Zealand - Turin 2006) Michiko Tomabechi (Japan - Sochi 2014) and Petr Dron (Sochi 2014).

The USA’s Korey Dropkin and Sarah Anderson both competed together at the 2012 Youth Olympic Games as part of the Mixed Team event.

At that event in Innsbruck, Austria, Dropkin won a bronze medal in the Mixed Doubles competition with teammate Marina Verenich from Russia.

Mixed Doubles curling is played on the same sheets of ice as ‘traditional’ curling, with some differences.

Instead of playing in teams of four, mixed doubles curling is for teams of two players – one male and one female (no alternate/spare player is allowed).

Teams have only six stones each (instead of eight) and one of those stones from each team is prepositioned on the centreline before each end of play starts.

Player one delivers the first and last stones and player two plays the second, third and fourth stones. If they choose to, the two players may swap positions from one end to the next while sweeping can be done by one or both team members.

Each team receives 22 minutes of Thinking Time and games are scheduled for 8 ends – compared to 38 minutes and 10 ends for ‘traditional’ curling.

Round-robin play in each of the groups gets underway on Saturday 18 April and continues until Thursday 23 April.

Friday 24 April will host one tie-breaker game if required, followed by one quarter-final qualification game. All four quarter-final games will then take place that evening.

Both semi-finals will take place on Saturday 25 April, followed by the bronze and gold medal games.

The World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship in Sochi takes place while the discipline is being considered by the International Olympic Committee for inclusion in the Olympic programme of the 2018 PyeongChang games. A decision is expected later this year.

At the same time as staging the World Mixed Doubles Championship, Sochi will also host the Men's and Women's World Senior Curling Championships, in the Iceberg Skating Palace Training Rink.

Live streaming and video highlights from games throughout the Championship will be available to watch on the World Curling Federation’s YouTube Channel

The live streaming schedule will be published here:

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