2014 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship begins next week

Hungary's Dorottya Palancsa and Zsolt Kiss defeated Sweden in last year's gold medal game and will return to defend their title this year Photo: WCF/Richard Gray

In what has already been a remarkable curling season, the international spotlight turns to Dumfries Ice Bowl in Scotland on Thursday 24 April, when competition gets underway in the 2014 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship.

This is the seventh edition of the event and the first time that Scotland has hosted this Championship. The inaugural World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship took place in Vierumaki, Finland, in 2008.

With a record total of 34 teams taking part from Asia, Australasia, Europe, North America and, for the first time ever, South America, Mixed Doubles’ global popularity continues to grow.

With this in mind, 2014 is going to be a crucial year for this discipline as the World Curling Federation will propose its inclusion in the Olympic Winter Games programme for the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

Instead of playing in teams of four, Mixed Doubles curling is for teams of two athletes – one male and one female (no alternate is allowed).

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

Teams only have 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.

Athlete one delivers the first and last stones and athlete 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 46 minutes of playing time and games are eight ends. This is in comparison to ‘traditional’ team curling which gives teams 73 minutes and 10 ends.

The 34 teams involved this year have been divided into four groups. Group A includes Austria; Belarus; Denmark; England; Hungary; Italy; Korea; Russia and Wales.

Group B consists of Brazil; Canada; Estonia; Finland; Kazakhstan; Latvia; Scotland; Slovenia and Sweden.

Group C is made up of Australia; Czech Republic; Japan; Netherlands; Poland; Romania; Slovakia and Switzerland.

And in group D China; France; Germany; Ireland; New Zealand; Norway; Spain and USA will play against each other.

Round-robin play in each of the four Groups gets underway on Thursday 24 April and continues until the morning of Tuesday 29 April.

Later that afternoon, the quarter-finals will take place. The first place teams in each of the four groups qualify automatically while the second and third placed teams in each group play-off to determine the other four qualifying teams for the quarter-finals.

After that, Wednesday 30 April sees the semi-finals take place, followed by both the bronze and gold medal games.

Among the 34 teams involved, Hungary will be represented by the duo who won the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship in 2013 - Dorottya Palancsa and Zsolt Kiss. This was Hungary’s first-ever World Curling Championship title.

Also returning are last year's bronze medallists from the Czech Republic, Zuzana Hajkova and Tomas Paul.

Representing Finland this year is Turin 2006 Olympic Winter Games silver medallist Markku Uusipaavalniemi, along with Mixed Doubles partner Eszter Juhasz.

World Mixed Doubles silver medallists from 2012, Per Noreen and Camilla Johansson, return to represent Sweden along with Austria’s Christian Roth and Claudia Fischer (formerly Toth) who won the bronze medals that same year.

The host country, Scotland, is represented by Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat who finished seventh at this Championship last year in Fredericton, Canada.

The Brazilian Federation - represented by Aline Lima Goncalves and Marcelo Cabral De Mello - will be making their World Curling Championship debut at this event.

Curling fans around the world will be able to see a number of live games and selected highlights from the 2014 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship via the World Curling Federation’s YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/WorldCurlingTV

You can see the full webcast schedule here: http://wmdcc2014.worldcurling.net/schedule

At the same time as staging the World Mixed Doubles Championship, the Dumfries Ice Bowl will also act as host to the Men's and Women's World Senior Curling Championships. More information about that event can be found here: http://wscc2014.worldcurling.net

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