Monday 14 November 2016
Curling will be coming home when play gets underway at the Le Gruyère AOP European Curling Championships 2016 (ECC) this weekend (Saturday 19 November), at the intu Braehead Arena in Renfrewshire, near Glasgow, Scotland.
Braehead is near the ancient Paisley Abbey, which played a key role in the origins of the game, with the recording of a challenge about throwing stones across the ice between a monk at the Abbey and a relative of the Abbot in February 1541 – the first-ever formal record of the existence of the sport.
Now, from these beginnings, a total of 27 Member Associations will take part in this championship. This is the 42nd edition of this event and the 15th time that Le Gruyère AOP has acted as title sponsor.
Scotland has hosted this event five times before – in Aberdeen (2009), Perth (1992, 1988), Kirkcaldy (1982) and Aviemore (1978).
Altogether 26 men's teams and 20 women's teams will be taking part in the event's A and B-Divisions. Round robin play will begin on Saturday and continue throughout the week in both A and B-Divisions. Tie-breakers, if required, semi-finals, challenge and medal games will take place between Thursday 24 and Saturday 26 November.
The women’s and men’s gold medal games, in the A-Division, will be held at 10.00 and 15.00 respectively on Saturday 26 November (Greenwich Mean Time).
The ten A-Division men's teams are: Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Norway, Russia, hosts Scotland, 2015 champions Sweden and Switzerland.
Of these, Sweden are represented by the team skipped by Niklas Edin who won last year’s title in Esjberg, Denmark, while last year’s bronze medallists Norway, are once again led by Thomas Ulsrud. If Norway medal this year, it will be the tenth time in a row, this team, will have made it onto the podium.
Switzerland are the same quartet who took silver last year after forcing Sweden into an extra end in the final. They play under skip Peter De Cruz, who once again is scheduled to play second stones.
Austria, under skip Sebastian Wunderer, will take up the place they gained in the A-Division from last year’s B-Division, as will Denmark, skipped by Rasmus Stjerne. Stjerne not only won last year’s B-Division, but subsequently took silver at the World Curling Championships in April 2016.
Finland are also unchanged, with Aku Kauste at the helm, while Germany are skipped by Andreas Kapp. Russia, who ranked seventh last year have a new skip this year, Alexey Timofeev, while Italy are lead by Joel Retornaz. Completing the line-up, Aberdeen’s Tom Brewster leads the Scottish host nation team.
The ten A-Division women’s teams are: Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Norway, Russia, hosts Scotland, Sweden and Switzerland.
Russia won this title last year but are represented by a new team, skipped by Victoria Moiseeva. Scotland lost last year’s final but, the host nation is once again lead by Olympic bronze medallist Eve Muirhead, with a slightly-changed team that includes Lauren Gray, who was Muirhead's Olympic alternate and is playing lead stones.
Although Finland took their first-ever bronze medal at this level last year, a new team, skipped by Anne Malmi will be their representatives at Braehead.
Four familiar skips will be competing, in the shape of Denmark’s Lene Nielsen, Germany’s Daniela Jentsch, Norway’s Kristin Skaslien and Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg. Italy’s Federica Apollo leads her team after gaining promotion at last year’s championship. Like Italy, the Czech Republic team – led by Anna Kubeskova also gained promotion from the 2015 B-Division. Completing the field are the current world champions from Switzerland, skipped by Binia Feltscher.
16 teams will compete in two sections in the men’s B-Division.
Section A: Czech Republic, France (promoted from C-Division), Israel, Lithuania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey and Wales.
Section B: Belgium, England, Estonia (promoted from C-Division), Hungary, Latvia, Netherlands. Poland and Slovenia.
The women’s B-Division consists of ten teams: Belarus (promoted from C-Division), England, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania (promoted from C-Division), Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia and Turkey.
From the A-Division, eight men’s teams will qualify for the Ford World Men’s Curling Championship, being held in Edmonton, Canada between 1-9 April 2017. Also, eight women’s teams will qualify for the World Women’s Curling Championship scheduled for Beijing, China between 18-26 March 2017. These will be the last World Curling Championships where Olympic Qualification Points will be available for PyeongChang 2018.
For the teams in the B-Division, there is all to play for, with whichever nations eventually emerge as B-Division winners. They will go on to challenge the teams that rank eighth in the A-Division in a best-of-three series to decide who goes to the World Curling Championships.
Curling fans around the world will be able to follow live coverage of these championships on the event website and the World Curling Federation’s YouTube Channel, www.youtube.com/WorldCurlingTV
Live broadcast coverage may be geo-blocked in your region. For all broadcast information visit, www.worldcurling.org/broadcast
To keep up-to-date with all the action from the ECC 2016, and the teams’ journey to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, follow us on Twitter, Instagram (@worldcurling) and Facebook (/WorldCurlingFederation) and use the hashtags: #ECC2016 #Roadto2018 #curling