mixed doubles curling
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OK, so what is mixed doubles curling?

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The 2018 Winter Olympics will officially kick off tonight with a new sport as mixed doubles curling makes its debut in the Winter Games.

But what is mixed doubles curling and why is it separate from the regular men’s and women’s events? All of your questions will be answered right here.

What is mixed doubles curling?
Mixed doubles is played by teams of two – one man and one woman.

Only two?
Yep. No alternates are allowed. If one of the players goes down or can’t play, the team has to forfeit the game.

Where did this sport come from?
While mixed doubles has been popular at curling clubs around the world for quite some time, you may not have heard of this type of curling before because this is the first time it will be played in the Winter Games. The IOC approved it in 2015 because they saw how popular curling had become since it became an Olympic sport back in 1998.

NBCOlympics.com: Watch Team USA in mixed doubles curling, starting at 7:05 pm ET

How is mixed doubles different from regular curling?
For one thing, it’s much faster paced. There are eight ends per game, and each team throws five stones per end, unlike regular curling where they throw eight and play 10 ends.

One player will throw stones one and five, and the other will throw stones two, three and four. The player who isn’t throwing sweeps.

Also, each end starts with both teams putting one stone in play before they begin throwing.

Yea, why is that?
Well, it adds to the pace. It’s called “positioning.” One stone goes inside of the house near the button, and the other serves as a guard just in front of the house. Both stones are placed on the center line.

The team with the hammer, the final throw of the end, gets to choose where these stones are placed to start. But, if you choose to place your stone as the guard, you lose the hammer and have to shoot first.

And these stones still count?
Yep! Even though these stones are placed before the end begins, they can still score points.

What’s this about a power play?
That is a popular term in another Winter Olympic sport, but in curling it means something different. Essentially, once per game the team who is choosing where the stones are positioned is allowed to move the pre-positioned stones off to the side a bit. But they can only do this once, and not if the game goes into extra ends.

Who are the best teams in PyeongChang?
Just like in men’s and women’s, Canada is expected to compete for a medal, and possibly gold. They’re currently ranked No. 1 in the world.

But Switzerland comes in as the hottest team. Jenny Perret and Martin Rios went undefeated at the 2017 World Championships where they won gold. Both players are making their Olympic debuts, and as a duo they are currently ranked No. 2 in the world.

Canada finished second at Worlds, but neither of the players on this team, Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris, were on that team last year. Lawes joined the team when the other woman, Rachel Homan, made the Canadian women’s team and couldn’t do both in PyeongChang. In fact, prior to coming to PyeongChang, Lawes and Morris hadn’t played together in five years.

But, both have previous Olympic experience, and gold medals in curling. You can never count out Team Canada when it comes to curling.

China and Team OAR (from Russia) are also expected to compete for a spot on the medal stand. China was 3rd at the 2017 Worlds and 2nd in 2016. Russia didn’t medal at World last year, but won in 2016.

What about Team USA?
They may be the most interesting team in the entire competition. Matt and Becca Hamilton are brother and sister, and the only players in PyeongChang who will compete in both mixed doubles and Team USA in the men’s and women’s tournaments.

The Hamiltons finished ninth at Worlds, but don’t let that fool you. They went undefeated in group play, and are no slouch. Pay close attention to them because this duo could surprise people and make a run for the podium.

Awesome! Anything else?
Mixed doubles begins Wednesday night with round robins. Teams will play at 7:05 p.m. and 6:05 a.m. EST for four days until the bronze medal match at 7:05 p.m. on February 12. The gold medal match will take place at 6:05 a.m. on February 13.

141 women accept ESPYs Arthur Ashe Courage Award for Larry Nassar survivors

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A total of 141 women accepted the ESPYs’ Arthur Ashe Courage Award on Wednesday night for the hundreds of Larry Nassar survivors, according to ESPN.

“1997. 1998. 1999. 2000. 2004. 2011. 2013. 2014. 2015. 2016,” Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman said on stage. “These were the years we spoke up about Larry Nassar’s abuse. All those years, we were told, you are wrong. You misunderstood. He’s a doctor. It’s OK. Don’t worry. We’ve got it covered. Be careful. There are risks involved. The intention? To silence us. In favor of money, medals and reputation.

“But we persisted, and finally, someone listened and believed us. This past January, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina showed a profound level of understanding by giving us each the opportunity to face our abuser, to speak our truth and feel heard. Thank you, Judge Aquilina [in attendance], for honoring our voices.

“For too long, we were ignored, and you helped us rediscover the power we each possess. You may never meet the hundreds of children you saved, but know they exist. The ripple effect of our actions, or inactions, can be enormous, spanning generations.

“Perhaps the greatest tragedy of this nightmare is that it could have been avoided. Predators thrive in silence. It is all too common for people to choose to not get involved. Whether you act or do nothing, you are shaping the world that we live in, impacting others.

“All we needed was one adult to have the integrity to stand between us and Larry Nassar. If just one adult had listened, believed and acted, the people standing before you on this stage would have never met him. Too often, abusers and enablers perpetuate suffering by making survivors feel their truth doesn’t matter. To all the survivors out there, don’t let anyone rewrite your story. Your truth does matter, you matter and you are not alone.

“We all face hardships. If we choose to listen, and we choose to act with empathy, we can draw strength from each other. We may suffer alone, but we survive together.”

The Ashe award, named after the Grand Slam tennis champion and human rights advocate, goes to those with “strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of peril and the willingness to stand up for their beliefs no matter what the cost.”

Previous Olympian recipients include Muhammad AliCathy FreemanTommie Smith and John CarlosPat Summitt and Caitlyn Jenner.

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Erin Hamlin to run New York City Marathon

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Erin Hamlin, the first U.S. Olympic singles luge medalist and Team USA flag bearer at the PyeongChang Olympic Opening Ceremony, will run the New York City Marathon on Nov. 4.

Hamlin, a 2014 Olympic bronze medalist who retired after her fourth Olympics in PyeongChang at age 31, is running to fundraise for the Women’s Sports Foundation. So is Marlen Esparza, who in 2012 became the first U.S. Olympic women’s boxing medalist (flyweight bronze).

Hamlin has no marathon experience, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation.

“Being challenged in sport is something I am very familiar with,” Hamlin said in a mass email Wednesday, according to TeamUSA.org. “Long distance running is something I most certainly am not!! It will be difficult, mentally and physically daunting, but a way to test my abilities in a sport so far out of my comfort zone.”

Many Olympians in non-running sports have raced the New York City Marathon.

Bill Demong, the 2010 U.S. Olympic Closing Ceremony flag bearer and only U.S. Olympic Nordic combined champion, ran the 2014 NYC Marathon in 2:33:05, crushing eight-time Olympic medalist Apolo Ohno‘s 3:25:14 from 2011.

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