Ireland will be represented at the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championships in Östersund, Sweden, April 21-28, by Eoin McCrossan and Jen Ward.
The team are hoping to boost Ireland’s ranking up from 23 into the top 12 to gain Olympic qualification as part of the Irish Curling Association’s strategy to have representation in the Olympic Mixed Doubles in Beijing in 2022.
Eoin and Jen won the Irish Mixed Doubles Championships in December 2017 and have been putting in hours of practice on the ice ahead of their debut in the world championships, although both have represented Ireland in International competition.
In 2016, the Irish father and daughter team of Neil and Alison Fyfe were ranked 12th in the world by the World Curling Federation, gaining one Olympic qualification point for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. But at last year’s world championships in Canada they slipped down the ranking table, and out of Olympic contention. Eoin and Jen now aim to rectify the situation and climb back up the rankings with the goal of a top seven place by 2021. Both curlers are self-funded and hold down full time jobs while pursuing their Olympic dream.
This is the 11th edition of this event and the second time that the mixed doubles have been staged in Sweden, with Karlstad acting as host in 2016.
With a total of 40 teams involved, from Asia, Australasia, Europe, North America and South America, the global popularity of mixed doubles continues. Among these, Guyana is making its first-ever international championship appearance, while Hong Kong is making a debut in this discipline.
Instead of playing in teams of four, mixed doubles is for teams of two players – one male and one female – with no alternate/spare player. The game is played on the same sheets of ice as team curling, with some differences, including:
- Teams have only six stones each (instead of eight) and one of those stones, from each team, is prepositioned 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.
- Sweeping can be done by both team members.
- Each team receives 22 minutes of thinking time and games are fixed at eight ends, three minutes of thinking time is added for each extra-end.
The teams involved this year have been divided into five groups, based on a World Curling Federation ranking established over the last three years.
Group A: Australia, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Slovenia, Switzerland and United States.
Group B: Belarus, Croatia, Denmark, England, Hungary, Norway, Romania and Turkey.
Group C: Estonia, Finland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, New Zealand, Poland and Russia.
Group D: China, Spain, France, Hong Kong, Israel, Scotland, Slovakia and Sweden.
Group E: Austria, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Guyana, Ireland and Korea.
Round-robin play gets underway on Saturday 21 April and continues until Thursday 26 April. After this, the 16 top-ranked teams will play in a head-to-head format, starting on Friday 27 April. Winners will continue to the quarter-finals and onwards to the rankings and medal games on Saturday 28 April. Live coverage from the event will be available on the World Curling Federation YouTube channel www.youtube.com/worldcurlingtv
You can also follow the Irish Mixed Doubles team’s progress on the Irish Curling Association website and Facebook page.