Canada will decide its first Olympic mixed doubles entry in January 2018 if the country qualifies, it has been announced.
The first Canadian Mixed Doubles Olympic Trials will be staged by Curling Canada between January 2 and 7, 2018, with the location to be announced at a later date.
A total of 18 teams will compete in the trials, all aiming to represent Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where mixed doubles curling will make its first appearance as an Olympic discipline.
Canada, though, still needs to clinch its Olympic berth in Pyeongchang through the ongoing qualifying process.
Seven countries plus the hosts South Korea will compete for gold in 2018, and Canada currently sits fifth in the qualifying standings.
Canadian pairing Marliese Kasner and Dustin Kalthoff represented their country at the 2016 World Mixed Doubles Championships and, as a result, have claimed the first position in the 2018 trials.
The rest of the field will be made up of the top three Canadian finishers at the 2017 National Mixed Doubles Championships, the top 10 teams from the Canadian Mixed Doubles Rankings who fail to qualify and four spots will also go to regional bonspiel qualifiers.
The Trials will feature two pools of nine teams, with the first- and second-best teams in each pool, along with the next four best, advancing to the modified double-knock-out play-off round.
“We’re excited about what is ahead for Canadian mixed doubles curling, and to get this qualifying process done makes 2018 and Pyeongchang feel that much closer,” said Jeff Stoughton, Curling Canada’s mixed doubles programme manager.
“Our Canadian athletes have truly committed to the mixed doubles discipline, and they’re excited about this opportunity to represent Canada in South Korea and give us another shot at gold.”
Players on the winning men’s and women’s teams at the 2017 Canadian Curling Trials in Ottawa, the traditional qualifying event for Canada’s four-player teams for the 2018 Winter Olympics, will not be eligible to compete for the mixed doubles berths.
“Representing Canada in curling at the Winter Olympics, with the accompanying expectations and demands on your time, is tough enough in one discipline, let alone two,” said Gerry Peckham, director of high performance for Curling Canada.
“We want our players going to South Korea with the best preparation and support system possible, and we deemed it best for all of our athletes to keep their focus on one discipline.”