Reigning Mixed Double World Champions, Hungary, know what it takes to win

  • Zsolt Kiss and Dorottya Palancsa of Hungary Photo: WCF / Richard Gray

Out of Hungary’s 150 curlers Dorottya Palancsa and Zsolt Kiss are two names to remember.

The two-time Mixed Doubles World Champions play out of Hungary’s one and only curling club – a two sheet rink in Budapest, Hungary. After the team unexpectedly won Gold in their first ever World Championship in 2013, some may have said it was luck. But, with a fourth place finish in 2014, followed by another Gold medal in 2015, Hungary proved they aren’t a one time show.

Six years ago, in a Mixed Doubles tournament in Budapest, Zsolt filled in as Dorottya’s partner to play in the Bronze medal game after her original teammate had a flight to catch.

“So that was our first game,” Zsolt said.

The pair had team chemistry immediately and enjoyed the new challenge of playing Mixed Doubles.

“Then we started playing together. We reached Bronze in the first Nationals, and we decided to play more. It was a lot of fun, it’s different than the regular game,” Zsolt said.

Even though they do not have top training facilities, or access to national calibre coaching in Hungary, they know how to create their own successes with what they do have – strong team dynamics.

“I’m sure that a lot of nations have better players or education for curling, we are a small country with a short history. They know much more About Curling than us,” said Zsolt.

Finishing fourth place at their second World Mixed Doubles Championship in 2014 solidified the right to believe they belong at the top.

“When we got fourth at the second Worlds, that was also good. That was the moment we knew, even though we are from Hungary, which is not a Traditional Curling nation, we are good at Mixed Doubles and we have to focus on Mixed Doubles. We know that everyone wants to beat us, so it is hard,” Zsolt said.

With this their fourth World Championship appearance, the two understand how to be a dominant team.

He said: “I think we find a tune together, we know our roles of what I have to do on the ice and what Dorottya has to do. We rely on each other. We do not doubt each other’s decisions and I think that is the main key.”

Even though this is the first year that Olympic points are up for grabs, the duo claim they don’t feel any added pressure. At just 20 years old, Dorottya is already playing in her second World Championship this season, after returning from the World Junior Curling Championships, skipping her Hungarian team to a fourth place finish.

“I think a lot of teams are stronger than last year. So they are growing. Everyone wants to go to the Olympics,” explained Dorottya.

Zsolt said: “I don’t feel the pressure. We know that some people have expectations for our performance. We want to play good. We want to be in the Olympics and we have to win games.”

This year, there are a record number of teams – 42 – playing in the World Mixed Doubles Championships, all fighting for Olympic points. The Hungarians say the task will not be easy, but have confidence in their abilities.

“It’s quite tough now. This Canada team is better than ever, China is playing so well – USA as well and Norway is always good. There are a lot of teams who are playing well. So we can’t take anything for granted. We have to fight every game. If it works well then, I think our chances are quite good.”

The World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship 2016 runs until Saturday 23 April. For all live coverage visit, www.worldcurling.org/wmdcc2016

by Emily Dwyer, Journalist Sports Media Trainee