Olympics Today: Mixed curling is fast, fun and worth your time

Beginning today and during each day of the Games, Olympics Today will keep you up-to-date on the biggest news and happenings, on and off the field of play.

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In mixed curling action Canada lost to Norway 9-6 as the Norwegians stole two in the eighth end to secure the victory away from the Canadian duo of Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris. But they did bounce back early Thursday morning. Despite a couple miscues from Lawes, she was clutch down the stretch with her final rock in the eighth end as Canada beat the United States 6-4 to even their record at 1-1.

My biggest takeaway from the early mixed curling action is the new version of curling might help make the sport more inviting to a younger generation of fans. For starters, it is a much faster paced game. Mixed curling games take just 90 minutes to complete, as opposed to team curling which can take anywhere from two-and-a-half to three hours to complete. Plus, there is a cool dynamic of having a male and female on the same team.

Traditional curling fans in Canada have had trouble warming up to this version of the game while the sport continues to grow in popularity around the world. As for myself, I wasn’t a curling fan growing up and I have no real relationship with the sport. But I found myself enjoying the drama of the mixed game. In traditional curling, if you’re down a couple of points you’re in trouble, but in the mixed game you have a better chance at a comeback with a three or a four-ender.

So if you’re a a traditional curling fan, don’t hate on the mixed game. It’s a fun alternative, and not a replacement for the sport you love. And if you’re not a curling fan, use these Olympics as an opportunity to give the game another shot, this time via the fan-friendly mixed version.

Russians dominating Games talk for wrong reasons:

The XXIII Olympic Winter Games are already being overshadowed by doping scandals and political drama. The last time South Korea hosted the Olympics, in 1988, of course it was Canada that featured prominently in a doping scandal.

I was five-years-old in 1988, but I can recall the euphoria of Ben Johnson’s 9.79 and the shame that followed two days later when he failed his drug test.

Fast forward to today where it’s been proven that Russia sanctioned state-sponsored doping. And apparently at least one Canadian isn’t too happy about it as there have been reports of a heated exchange between members of the Canadian contingent and Russian officials.

Good for us. At least someone is standing up to Russia. The Court of Arbitration for Sport has reversed sanctions against 28 Russian athletes accused of doping. The games have already begun and an additional 30 Russian athletes are appealing their ban. In the end, the number of Russian athletes that compete in these Games won’t be that far off from the number that competed four years ago in Sochi.