2018 Olympic Mixed Doubles Curling Predictions

2016 world mixed doubles gold medalists Alexander Krushelnitskiy and Anastasia Bryzgalova (WCF)

One of the four new events at the upcoming Winter Olympics is going to be mixed doubles curling, a bizarre but fast-paced variant between teams consisting of one female and one male. Fewer ends, fewer stones, higher scoring, and everyone’s doing a little bit of everything.

Unlike the women’s and men’s 10-country events, mixed doubles will have just eight slots — a dramatic drop from the world event’s slate of 42 teams. This is probably for the best, as the current world championship had far too many lopsided matches — over 50 percent of games had games won by five points or more, and about one-sixth of games by at least 10 points … in a game where you can only score, at max, six points per end. Still, eight feels like too few. This variant is going to be several countries’ alternate access into the Olympics, so hopefully they expand it to something like 12 or 16.

The qualifying for this is just a straight sum of points accrued in the 2016 and 2017. From the qualifying table:

  1. Russia 14
  2. China 12
  3. USA 10
  4. Great Britain (Scotland’s points) 9
  5. Canada 8
  6. Estonia 7
  7. Finland 6

[England 5]

8. Norway 4
9. Slovakia 3
10. Austria 2
11. Ireland 1

Absent in the standings is Hungary, who finished first, fourth and first in the last three worlds before, then in 2016 went 6–0 in pool play only to lose to Scotland then bow out against Ireland (!) to come away with bupkis in the Olympic standings. Sweden also had four straight silver finishes, and Switzerland has claimed five of the nine all-time world titles, but both missed out on the 2016 world playoffs. Nine points might be enough so if any of those nations bounce back with a top-four finish in 2017, all might be well. Hungary is the most likely to do this.

An interesting note here is England, who finished ninth, basically pocked their 5 qualifying points into a black hole since Great Britain’s internal agreement is that Scotland’s points will determine their standing, giving the seven teams ahead of them a slight cushion.

But with this discipline being so new, and national lineups seemingly fluid annually (except for Hungary’s), it would be pointless to figure out which individuals will make it. (To wit, Team Canada sent their bronze medal team to 2016 worlds as their gold and silver finishers had at least one player with a schedule conflict). So I’ll just break it up into tiers, given the information we have with previous world championships and rankings:

Host Nation: South Korea
Almost Certainly In
: Russia, China, USA, Great Britain
Probably In: Canada
Maybe: Estonia, Norway, Finland
Lurking: Hungary, Switzerland, Sweden
I’m Guessing Probably Not: Slovakia, Austria, Ireland, The Field
Teams That Lost By A Combined Score Of 104–4 In Last Year’s World Championships: Qatar
Okay No More Waffling, Final Guesses
: South Korea, Russia, China, USA, Great Britain, Canada, Hungary

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