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The Los Compadres mixed team. SUR
Local curling team return to home soil to train at Benalmádena ice rink
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Local curling team return to home soil to train at Benalmádena ice rink

Los Compadres, the only Andalusian team in the Spanish curling league, have launched their first mixed team this season

Alekk M. Saanders

Malaga

Monday, 29 January 2024, 11:47

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Malaga's curling club, Los Compadres, have two reasons to celebrate this season. The first is that they have a place to train locally, with the recent reopening of the Benalmádena ice rink; the second is that they have adopted a mixed format, with women players joining the men in the club.

Curling, an unlikely sport for a place with the climate of the Costa del Sol, emerged in Malaga in 2010 thanks to an enthusiastic group of friends living in Huelin, and they now have the support of the provincial authority, Diputación.

Until now the local players had to travel abroad to train. In fact, as team captain Fernando Galván told SUR in English in a recent interview, Scotland became a second home for them, although they also trained in Italy. While Granada also used to offer curling opportunities, these disappeared when the local Don Patin club closed a couple of years ago.

First training Sunday in Benalmádena.
First training Sunday in Benalmádena. SUR

Fortunately, the ice rink in Benalmádena re-opened in November 2023 after being closed since the start of the pandemic, and the club's new owners hope that it will now become a benchmark for sports such as hockey, figure skating and now, curling. In December Los Compadres announced that Club de Hielo Benalmádena had set aside a couple of hours a week for curling training.

"This year we have an agreement with the rink to train on Sunday afternoons. That time is designated for our practice sessions, but we also want to hold open days to recruit new players or players who have stopped playing. People of all ages are welcome to attend and test their skills. We also want to start a wheelchair curling team because we already have the facilities to do that. I would stress that we are especially looking forward to recruiting women because we want to strengthen our mixed-format team," Fernando Galván told SUR in English.

The Malaga curlers competing in Jaca.
The Malaga curlers competing in Jaca. SUR

Mixed curling

The idea of a mixed team was developed by Canadian curler Warren Hansen in 2001 as one of four categories for the inaugural Continental Curling Cup. It specifies that each team should consist of one male and one female. Today, the term "mixed" is used not only for two-person teams but also refers to a specific format of four-person team curling. This mixed team consists of two men and two women, and the order of throws is alternated by gender. The first World Mixed Curling Championships were held in 2008, and ten years later mixed curling made its debut at the Winter Olympics. That same year, Spain finished second at the World Mixed Team Curling Championships held in Canada.

In October this year, their success was repeated. The Spanish team of Oihane Otaegi, Leire Otaegi, Mikel Unanue and Sergio Vez won the silver medal at the 2023 World Mixed Team Championships held in Aberdeen, Scotland. It was a fantastic tournament for the Spanish curling players, in which they were only defeated in the final against Sweden, the leading country in the sport.

That success is already having a positive impact. Clearly, a new curling boom is in full swing, especially in the mixed division, and this prompted the curlers of Malaga to test their skills at the Spanish Mixed Curling Championships held in Jaca this November.

"This year has been a revolutionary year for Malaga curling as it was the first time we participated in the mixed category"

Fernando Galván

Captain

Speaking in December, Fernando Galván said: "The National Mixed Championships are held in Spain in the town of Jaca (Huesca). This year has been a revolutionary year for Malaga curling as it was the first time we participated in the mixed category. Yes... we didn't have any women in the Los Compadres team, but as you know, family bonds are strong in Andalucía. So all my family members joined together and became one team. One of the players is my 14-year-old son Fernando, who has been playing with the adults for the last few years. Now my wife Mercedes Torres and our 11-year-old daughter Cristina Galván have joined us. Surprisingly, we are pretty good."

Malaga players in Jaca.
Malaga players in Jaca. SUR

Fernando noted that they are hoping that locals and foreigners with or without experience will join them at the ice rink in Benalmádena on Sundays from 2.30pm to 4pm. They already have all the equipment ready, there is no need to take any. The training sessions are free. Anyone interested should email: compadrescurling@gmail.com.

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