|World champions Martin Rios and Jenny Perret, Switzerland. Photo © WCF / Richard Gray|
18 Aug 2017 – The current World Champions, a smattering of other top-10 sides and two previous Winter Games gold medallists should ensure some thrilling curling at this month’s Audi quattro Winter Games NZ Mixed Doubles tournament.
“This is the best field ever to take to the ice outside a World Championship”, said Sam Inder, Winter Games Curling Manager.
“With the Winter Olympics just around the corner, six of the eight nations in the Mixed Doubles at PyeongChang are sending teams to the Winter Games.”
“The current World Champions from Switzerland, Martin Rios and Jenny Perret, have to be among the favourites,” he continued, “as do the Norwegian team who have had five top 10 finishes in the last five years."
| • Audi quattro Winter Games NZ website
• 2017 Mixed Doubles curling tournament
"The Finland and Korea sides were also in the top 10 at the Worlds this year.”
Canadians Kalynn Park and Charley Thomas are back to defend their 2015 Audi quattro Winter Games title. 2011 champions, Ildiko Szekeres and György Nagy from Hungary, are also in the 16-team field.
The New Zealand challenge will be headed by Maniototo brother and sister Bridget and Scott Becker, with Bridget being a two-time medallist at previous Games.
Joining them are Eleanor Adviento and Brett Sargon, who finished 7th at the 2015 Games, and first-time internationals Jessica and Ben Smith.
|Ben and Jessica Smith. Photo © NZCA|
The teenage Smith siblings, silver medallists in last year’s NZ championship, are not daunted by the task ahead of them.
“This is an insanely big opportunity for us,” said Ben. “We’re just looking forward to playing these high-class teams and see how we go, to compare ourselves and look forward to the future.”
“To get this experience against top-level players will be really good for us,” agreed Jess. “And the fact that it’s literally on our doorstep as well is just awesome."
The first stones will be thrown at Naseby’s Maniototo Curling International rink next Saturday, 26th August. The semi-finals and finals will be played on Wednesday 30th and screened live in New Zealand on TVNZ Duke.