GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL – Grand Falls-Windsor will play host to the mixed doubles provincial championships next month, and the host team is preparing to take a run at the top prize.
Kelly Cribb and Ben Fennimore will represent the Exploits Regional Curling Club in the event, which takes place Feb. 28-March 4.
The mixed doubles event is still relatively new and should not be confused with a more traditional game.
“You have the mixed four-person and the mixed doubles. We’re talking about mixed doubles, so there’s only two people on a team,” said Cribb. “The mixed doubles idea only came to Canada three or four years ago, but I think it’s been played longer than that in the European countries. It is gaining popularity because it was added as an Olympic sport. “
Four teams will compete in the provincial event. Along with the local squad, two teams will travel from St. John’s, while a duo from Gander/St. John’s will make up the fourth team.
Cribb and Fennimore first got together for a practice last week and prepared for a number of different scenarios should they arise. From knowing when the person throwing the rock is going to help sweep and when they’re not, to creating specific situations when they have the hammer and they don’t, Cribb said the team is trying to put in the practice time to be as prepared as possible for provincials.
In this two-person event, Cribb said the scoring is higher and there are more rocks in play, which usually always leads to some exciting curling.
“If you love curling and you want to see how it can be played a little bit differently, you get to see a different aspect of the game with mixed doubles,” she said. “There’s a totally different strategy and it’s a totally different game. Two rocks are in play right from the start, and you’re not getting black ends like you are in a four-person game. Someone’s always going to score.
“There are a lot of rocks in play, so it’s nothing to score four or five in one end, and your opponent comes back to score four or five the next end. The game isn’t over just because you’re down by six.”
According to the rules, the game starts with two rocks in play. The team with the hammer has a rock in the house, and the other team has a rock outside as a guard. Teams cannot start taking out rocks until the fourth rock is thrown.
Cribb said mixed doubles is more of a touch game with a lot of draws and taps and bumps.
“Once you can start to take out rocks, you’ll get to see a few high-risk shots because there’s already a lot of rocks in play and you have to figure out how to score,” said Cribb. “You get to see a lot of runbacks, taps and in-offs. It gets interesting.”
More information on the event can be found by visiting the Exploits Curling Club’s Facebook page. The club is currently recruiting timekeepers for the mixed doubles provincials, and those interested can contact the club through its Facebook page.