Slovenia success story at Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2015

  • Slovenia in action in the ECC 2015 B-Division Photo: WCF / Laura Godenzi

Slovenia skip Tomas Tisler says this year’s Le Gruyère European Curling Championships in Esbjerg, Denmark, are a big step forward for his team, and his country.

Tisler’s squad, who train at Ljubljana’s Zalog Curling Club, were promoted to the European Curling Championships (ECC) B-Division after they won the C-Division title in Champéry, Switzerland in October.

“It’s great. I think it’s totally different,” Tisler said. “You see all the familiar faces you see on TV here, and the teams are a lot better.”

Tisler and his teammates – fourth Gasper Ursic, second Jure Culic, lead Jost Lajovec and alternate Gregor Verbinc – have played together for four years.

When their country launched its first curling program in Ljubljana five years ago, they were some of the first Slovenian players to be introduced to the sport.

Since then, the Slovenia Curling Association has been busy building the sport’s profile, recruiting new players and sending athletes to international competitions.

Tisler continued: “We’re still trying to get more people in, working with new juniors.”

“We’re going to every competition we can – mixed and doubles – and we haven’t been to the seniors yet but maybe next year will be the first time. We’re working on everything right now.”

Tisler said the Slovenia Curling Association do still face challenges in developing curling though: “We still play on hockey ice – we don’t have a dedicated curling arena – and even that ice isn’t very good.”

But, that hasn’t stopped the country from faring well at the ECC 2015. So far, it finished out the B-Division round-robin tied for third place with Turkey, with a 4-3 record. Today, they face Turkey in a tie-breaker [at 16.00, CET] to decide who will play in the men’s B-Division cross-section play-offs [today at 20.00, CET].

Tisler said the team’s performance is proof Slovenian curling is getting better and its players are progressing to a higher level.

Recently, the country’s women’s team finished sixth at the C-Division European Curling Championships. A Slovenian team also competed for the first time at the World Mixed Curling Championship in Berne, Switzerland this September.

According to Tisler, making it to the B-Division for the first time was a victory for Slovenia, even if they don’t win the title. The country’s strong showing at the ECC 2015 means it will return for next year’s tournament in Braehead, Scotland (18-26 November 2016).

“We just hoped to stay here. That was our first goal. Your appetite goes a little higher when you win but we’re still grounded, we’re staying realistic,” Tisler said.

“We just have to keep our heads on straight and keep focused.”

To follow Slovenia at the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships, visit: http://www.worldcurling.org/ecc2015/b-division-live-scores

by Patrick Butler (Journalism Sport Media Trainee)