Who’s competing at the Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Curling Championship 2019?
The Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Curling Championship 2019 is set to take place from 30 March to 7 April in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. A total of 13 men’s teams from around the globe, each with their own journey to get to the championship, will battle for the world title over nine days of play.
Defending champions, Sweden, to be skipped once again by Niklas Edin, will lead the field of men’s teams after their victory over Canada’s Brad Gushue in Las Vegas, United States in 2018. Edin has represented Sweden at eight world championships and has collected three gold, one silver and two bronze medals over 13 years. His team won silver at last years’ Olympic Winter Games after losing the final to United States’ John Shuster. The team collected European silver medals in November, after losing the final to Scotland’s Bruce Mouat, 5-9. With that second-place finish at the Le Guyère AOP European Curling Championships, the Swede’s solidified their spot at the world championship and can look to defend their title.
Hosts, Canada, will be represented by Kevin Koe [pictured above © WCF / Céline Stucki] who hails from Alberta. At the beginning of the season, Koe formed a new team for the next Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 cycle. Koe’s team won, Canada’s national championship, the Brier, against Brendan Bottcher, 4-3, with an extraordinary last stone double take-out to score two points in the tenth end. The Canadians opened their season with a Curling World Cup victory over Sweden in Suzhou, China and will be capping-off their season at the Grand Final in Beijing. Koe has previously won the world championship in 2010 and 2016.
This season’s winners of the Americas Challenge, United States, will be backed by no other than the Olympic champions, John Shuster. United States went undefeated in the challenge series, defeating Brazil and Guyana in round-robin. The team won the USA Curling National Championships in February against Rich Ruohonen in the final 8-4. Shuster won the second leg of the Curling World Cup on home ice in Omaha, booking a ticket to the Grand Final in May as well. The Americans finished in sixth place at last year’s world championship.
From the Pacific-Asia zone, there will be representation from three teams – Japan and China – who qualified through the Pacific-Asia Curling Championships 2018 in November and Korea, who earned their place through the new World Qualification Event in January.
After claiming gold at the Pacific-Asia Curling Championship 2018 over China, 9-7, Japan’s Yuta Matsumura [pictured above © WCF / Céline Stucki] grabbed the first of two spots to qualify. The same team went on to win the Japan National Championship against Junpei Kanda, 6-2, to book their ticket to Lethbridge. On the international stage, the team played at the second leg of the Curling World Cup, winning two games. This will be Matsumura’s second appearance at the worlds after a sixth-place finish in 2015.
China’s second place finish at the Pacific-Asia Curling Championships 2018 earned their Member Association the right to compete in Lethbridge. Skip Qiang Zou competed in the second leg of the Curling World Cup, finishing with three wins and three losses. The skip will be making his third consecutive appearance at the worlds. So far, a fifth-place finish in 2017 is his best result.
For the first time ever, eight more Member Association who have not previously won a spot at the worlds are given a second chance to earn a place. The World Qualification Event debuted in Naseby, New Zealand in January. The event gave two additional teams the opportunity to book their ticket to Lethbridge. In New Zealand, Korea won the first spot over England, 7-3. Long-time skip SooHyuk Kim will be returning to the worlds, after a two-year hiatus, for his fourth time.
The Dutch may have taken the long way to the world championship, but it was well worth the trip to Naseby after defeating England, 8-5, at the World Qualification Event to seal the second spot available. Skip, Jaap Van Dorp, has competed in the last two world championships and the team has picked up plenty of international experience with showings in the last eight Le Guyère AOP European Curling Championships.
Additionally, seven teams earned their Member Association a spot at the Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Curling Championship 2019 based on their performances at the Le Guyère AOP European Curling Championships 2018 in November.
The 2018-2019 season has been one to remember for Scotland, starting off with winning the bronze medal against Korea, 11-4, at the 2018 world men’s [pictured above © WCF / Stephen Fisher]. Then, in November, skip Bruce Mouat claimed the Le Guyère AOP European title in his first year competing at the event, over reigning world champions, Sweden, 9-5 in Tallinn, Estonia. The 2016 World Junior champion has also competed in two legs of the Curling World Cup.
The Italian Olympic team who won bronze at the Le Guyère AOP European Curling Championships against Germany, 8-6, will be making their third consecutive appearance at the world championship. With an eighth-place finish last year, skip Joel Retornaz will be looking to use that European bronze as motivation on the world stage.
German skip Marc Muskatewitz has steadily improved at the Europeans – with his team’s fourth place finish this season, best to date since 2014. This team also competed in the 2016 Worlds.
There will be a fresh face representing Norway at this year’s championship. The Norwegians have historically been represented by Thomas Ulsrud who won the world title in 2015 or Steffen Walstad. However, at the Norwegian national championship Magnus Ramsfjell [pictured above © WCF / Richard Gray] won the trophy after defeating Ulsrud in the final, 7-5. The junior team also competed in the World Junior Curling Championships 2019 in Liverpool, Canada in February and finished fourth. After the juniors, Ramsfjell headed to the Winter Universiade Games in Russia, with a different line-up, where he claimed gold.
Switzerland will be backed by Olympic bronze medallist, Peter de Cruz. De Cruz’s Swiss team won their nationals against Yannick Schwaller, 8-7, in a tense extra end final to advance to the world championship. In both 2014 and 2017 the Swiss team won bronze at the world championship and this year, with a new line-up, competed in the Curling World Cup.
Russian skip Sergey Glukhov is returning for a second consecutive year, after a ninth-place finish in Las Vegas in 2018. The Russians finished seventh in Tallinn at the Europeans and will look to benefit from that international experience.
To engage with the World Curling Federation on social media in the build to the Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Curling Championship 2019 follow it on Twitter, Instagram (@worldcurling) and Facebook (@WorldCurlingFederation) and use the hashtags when posting: #WMCC2019 #curling