Nathalie Wiksten
World Curling

12-year-old competes at world curling championship

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In a sport where athletes in their 40s and 50s have won Olympic medals, a 12-year-old girl competed at a world championship last week.

Nathalie Wiksten and her dad, Kasper, made up Denmark’s team at the world mixed doubles curling championship in Lethbridge, Canada.

“We just started [competing] this year for fun,” Kasper said at worlds. “It was supposed to be just a father-daughter thing. And then, suddenly, we qualify for the worlds. So it’s been going really fast. But we love it.”

Mixed doubles makes its Olympic debut in PyeongChang. Worlds in Lethbridge marked the final qualifying event.

The Wikstens did not qualify an Olympic spot for Denmark, finishing 2-5 in group play and failing to reach the 16-team knockout stage.

“We had some disappointing games where it would have been nice to play better,” Kasper said, according to the World Curling Federation. “[Playing with Nathalie], I can’t describe it. I think we have learned a lot, especially Nathalie has, because I think the most import thing for us was to come here and learn something about the mixed doubles game.”

There is no age minimum for curling at the Olympics.

The youngest Olympic curler of all time was German Stella Heiss, who competed at Vancouver 2010 at age 17, according to Olympic historians.

American Erika Brown competed at the 1988 Olympics at age 15, when curling was an unofficial demonstration sport, and again in Sochi at age 41.

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MORE: U.S. qualifies for Olympics in every curling event

Curling siblings secure mixed doubles Olympic quota spot for U.S.

Rich Harmer/USA Curling
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The United States will be represented when mixed doubles curling makes its Olympic debut in PyeongChang, thanks, in part, to the performance of siblings Becca and Matt Hamilton at the 2017 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship.

Although the Hamiltons finished well off the podium in 10th, their work, coupled with a third place finish at the 2016 World Championships by Joe Polo and Tabitha Peterson, is all the U.S. needed to lock in an Olympic spot for 2018. The bronze won by Polo and Peterson in 2016 was the first time the United States had won a world championship medal in mixed doubles curling, according to TeamUSA.org.

The Hamiltons opened the 2017 World Championships with a perfect 7-0 record through pool play, but a 6-5 loss to Finland in a match that needed extra ends took them out of contention for a medal. Wins against Hungary and Italy moved them into position to get the necessary points to land the Olympic quota spot. In their final match at the 2017 Worlds the Hamiltons fell to Russia, 5-7.

At the top of the 2017 World Championship final standings, Switzerland won the gold, Canada took silver and China left with bronze.

The eight mixed doubles team field set to compete in PyeongChang includes China, Canada, Russia, Switzerland, United States, Norway, Finland and hosts Korea. Curling begins in PyeongChang on February 8, 2018, one day ahead of the Opening Ceremony, with competition lasting throughout the entire span of the Olympic Games.

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Vernon Davis plans curling return at PyeongChang Olympics

AP
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NFL tight end Vernon Davis said he expects to attend his third straight Winter Olympics next year, according to ESPN.com.

USA Curling has a standing offer that he can reprise his role as honorary team captain.

Davis, then with the San Francisco 49ers, learned about curling from a 49ers beat writer before the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, gave it a try and took to it.

Within weeks, USA Curling found out and extended the honorary captain offer.

“I’m open to try new things and different things,” Davis said in Sochi while watching the U.S. men play. “I find it fascinating.”

He began curling recreationally in the Bay Area, then moved to Denver in 2015 and Washington last year.

Hopefully, he has raised awareness for one of the cult-following sports of the Winter Games.

“The Winter Olympics, when everyone hears curling, they’re thinking … oh, Vernon does that,” Davis said in Sochi. “It makes people want to look at it. They want to get involved. They want to see what’s going on. They want to learn more about it. They’re on the Internet, Googling ‘curling,’ trying to find out about it. Which is a pretty good thing.”

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