Controversy has already hit at the Winter Olympics in mixed doubles curling

NBC Sports
  • Switzerland defeated China in the first mixed doubles curling match for both countries.
  • China lost a chance to win the match in regulation when players for both teams moved a stone that was touching a second stone that needed to be measured.
  • Switzerland eventually won with two points when the match went to an extra end.

The Winter Olympics has not even had its opening ceremony, and yet we have already had a controversial finish.

The controversy came in the first session of round-robin matches in the mixed doubles event in curling between China and Switzerland. It was the first match for both countries.

Entering the final end of regulation, Switzerland held a 5-4 lead. After the final stone, it wasn’t clear whether China had added one point to tie the match or two points for the win.

China clearly had picked up one point from the stone in the middle. The question was whether the second stone was closer to the center than Switzerland’s closest stone. If China’s was closer, it would get two points; if Switzerland’s was closer, China would get just one point.

CurlingNBC Sports

The normal procedure here is to move the stone in the middle out of the way and then measure the distance of the two other stones in question, if necessary.

But here is where things get weird.

In the image above, you can see the red stone in the middle is up against the yellow stone. Both men reach to move the red stone at the same time, and there was a feeling that the yellow stone may have moved.

Winter Olympics curlingNBC Sports

The middle stone was now out of the way, but it was unclear whether the yellow stone could still be measured.

Complicating matters is how rulings are made in curling. Like golf, or a pickup game of basketball, the competitors make their own rulings. There is an official to help with the rules, but ultimately it is up to the players.

The players asked whether the movement could be reviewed on television. It is unclear whether that happened, but the stone did not appear to move when NBC showed the replay. China’s Ba Dexin, however, seemed to think the stone did move.

Winter Olympics curlingNBC sports

After the middle stone was moved, it was still impossible to tell with the naked eye which of the two stones was closer to the middle. If the red stone was deemed closer, the match would have been over.

Winter Olympics curlingNBC Sports

In the end, the teams did not measure the stones. China appeared to concede the extra point, acknowledging that the yellow stone could not be measured.

With the match tied, 5-5, the two teams went to an extra end to decide the winner. In the extra end, Switzerland scored two points for the win, 7-5.

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