Thursday, April 16, 2009

World Mixed Doubles

Question for today. When is this curling season going to end? You may well be heading for Elgin this weekend, and I look forward to hearing how the first Moray International event goes. Best wishes to Andy Cameron for his efforts up there.

The Dolomites would also be a lovely destination to be heading to this weekend, and with some interesting curling to watch too in the Olympic Ice Stadium in Cortina d'Ampezzo, the ski resort area in northeast Italy. The World Mixed Doubles has teams representing 27 nations taking part, including Scotland's Vicky Sloan and Keith MacLennan who won the Scottish Mixed Doubles Championship in December, see here.

The Round Robin begins on Sunday. The semifinals will take place on Friday, with the Championship Final and Closing Ceremony on Saturday, April 25.

Cortina is the venue for the 2010 Capital One World Men's Curling Championship, less than one month after the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. So the MDs is something of a test event for the 'big one'!

"The venue has a great view of the mountains and it was also home to events in the 1956 Olympic Winter Games," said Massimo Antonelli, President of the Organizing Committee. "We are very proud to host the World Mixed Doubles in Cortina d'Ampezzo and we are looking forward to the competition."

There are three pools of nine teams (Blue, Red and Green groups) contesting the second WMDCC, following last year's inaugural championship at Vierumaki, Finland. Then, Switzerland's Irene Schori and Toni Mueller rolled to an overall 9-0 record in winning the championship trophy, including a tight 5-4 final-game victory over opponents Anne Malmi and Jussi Uusipaavalniemi of the host country. See here, and here.

I said a year ago after seeing the event in Vierumaki that I thought Mixed Doubles is just a great event. I hope Cortina will prove this to be the case. One disappointment would seem to be that, despite the suggestion of the WCF President Les Harrison that there would be, there seems to be no webcasting from the event. And that's so frustrating. The more people see how great this type of curling is, the more it will be accepted. But how can you persuade people, if they can't see what's going on? Sometimes I despair!

Anyway, Schori and Mueller return to Cortina, nominated by Switzerland to represent their country a second time, and lead the Blue Group along with Austria's Karina Toth and Andreas Unterberger, Latvia's Robert Krusts and Iveta Stasa-Sarsune, Slovakia's Milan and Gabriela Kajan, France's Wilfred and Solene Coulot, Japan's Fukuhiro Ohno and Matsuda Atsuko, Karel Kubeska and Anna Kubeskova of the Czech Republic, Poland's Agnieszka Ogrodniczek and Herman Damian, and Elizabeth and Stewart Cairns of Wales.

Also returning is 2008 silver medallist Jussi Uusipaavalniemi of Finland, but with a new partner in Jaana Haemaelaeinen. Their Red Group also includes Canada's Sean Grassie and Allison Nimik, Scotland's Keith MacLennan and Vicki Sloan, Italy's Andrea Pilzer and Chiara Zanotelli, Russia's Olga Jarkova and Alexander Kirikov, New Zealand's Brydie Donald and Scott Becker, Australia's Jennifer Thomas and Gerald Chick, England's Jane Clark and John Sharp, and Borislava Petrova and Lubomir Velinov of Bulgaria.

The Green Group features newcomers Brady and Cristin Clark of the United States, who have a powerful legacy of four-person mixed play in their home country, having already won their sixth mixed title this season. No other athletes in US history have won this many mixed titles.

They will be challenged by Hungary's Ildiko Szekeres and Gyorgy Nagy, Sweden's Sofia Gustafsson and Andreas Prytz, China's Sun Yue and Zhang Zhipeng, Norway's Hilde Stenseth and Ole Hauge, Denmark's Christine and Per Svenson, Korea's Kyung-mi Park and Jun-pyo Hong, Estonia's Kristiine and Martin Lill, and Estrella Labrador and Alberto Vez of Spain.

Good luck to Vicky and Keith! We're supporting you from afar!

The event website is here. Results and standings are here. Game stories and photos will also appear on the World Curling Federation website. Thanks to the WCF press release for some of the above.

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