After a season’s delay, caused by COVID-19, international championship curling returns to Norway. The Le Gruyère AOP European Curling Championships 2021 get underway on Saturday 20 November in Lillehammer’s Haakons Hall (A-Division) and the Lillehammer Youth Hall (B-Division) and run until 27 November.
This will be the fourth time Norway hosts the European Championships. Previous editions were held in Oslo in 1977; Lillehammer in 1990 and Stavanger in 2013.
More recently, Lillehammer hosted the curling events of the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games, and the 2019 edition of the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship and World Senior Curling Championships were held in Stavanger.
This will be the 46th European Championships to be held and will be supported by long-term sponsor Le Gruyère AOP for the 19th time.
This year, a total of 26 national Member Associations will be represented. For both women and men, there will be A-Divisions of ten teams. Ten women’s teams will compete in their B-Division, and 16 teams in the men’s B-Division, the latter being divided into two groups of eight teams.
The ten teams competing in the women’s A-Division are: Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Russia, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.
- defending champions Sweden are represented by the current Olympic champions, skipped by Anna Hasselborg
- Switzerland, skipped by Silvana Tirinzoni, who plays third stones, are the current world champions, and took bronze at the last European Championship
- Scotland’s skip Eve Muirhead, who took silver at the last European Championship, will be playing in her 13th European Championship, looking for a tenth medal
- Germany skip Daniela Jentsch will be playing in her eighth European Championship, while this is the sixth appearance for her sister, Analena Jentsch
- Italy’s Stefania Constantini makes her first appearance in the European field as skip, as Italy return to the A-Division for the first time since 2018
- Dilsat Yildiz skips Turkey on their first A-Division appearance since 2017, when they finished ninth.
The ten teams playing in the women’s B-Division are: Austria, England, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.
The ten teams competing in the men’s A-Division are: Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Scotland, Sweden and Switzerland.
- Niklas Edin, who has won European gold seven times, skips the reigning champions from Sweden, who are also current world champions
- Switzerland won silver medals at the last European Championship, skipped by Yannick Schwaller. Now Switzerland is represented by current Olympic and world bronze medallists, Team Peter De Cruz
- Scotland won bronze at the last European Championship, represented by Team Ross Paterson. Now Team Bruce Mouat, current world silver medallists and 2018 European Champions, play for Scotland
- Czech Republic, skipped by Lukas Klima, and Finland, skipped by Kalle Kiiskinen, both gained promotion from the B-Division last time round
- Netherlands skip Jaap van Dorp will be making his tenth European appearance, looking to improve on his team’s best finish – seventh in 2017.
The 16 teams in the men’s B-Division are:
Group A: Austria, Bulgaria, England, France, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey and Wales
Group B: Belgium, Belarus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia and Spain.
Five nations qualified to compete in the B-Divisions due to performances at the 2021 C-Division Championships, held in Geneva, Switzerland in September. On the women’s side these nations are winners Lithuania, runners-up Slovenia and bronze medallists Austria. In the men’s competition these teams are winners Slovenia, runners-up Belgium and third-placed Slovakia.
In the A-Division, round-robin play commences on Saturday (20 November) and will continue until Thursday (25 November). The women’s semi-finals will also take place in the evening of Thursday (25 November), while the men’s semi-finals will be on Friday (26 November). For the semi-finals of both genders, the teams ranked first on the round-robin table will play the fourth-ranked teams, while the second- and third-ranked teams will face each other.
The women’s bronze medals will be contested in the evening of Friday (26 November), and the men’s bronze medal game and both gold medal finals will take place on Saturday (27 November).
As well as being Championships in their own right, the European Championships also act as qualifiers for the World Championships held later in the season. The BKT Tires & OK Tire World Women’s Curling Championship 2022 will be staged in Prince George, Canada, from 19–27 March 2022, while the LGT World Men’s Curling Championship will take place in Las Vegas, United States, from 2–10 April 2022.
This season, the top-placed seven women’s teams and eight men’s teams from the field will qualify directly for their respective World Championship. In the women’s competition the teams placed eighth and ninth, as well as the eventual B-Division winners and runners-up will be entitled to join the field in the World Qualification Event, being held in Lohja, Finland from 17–22 January 2022, while the ninth and tenth teams as well as the B-Division runners-up from the men’s field will also be entitled to join the World Qualification Event 2022. This World Qualification Event offers two places from all the participating teams in both the women’s and men’s World Championships’ line-ups.
Over and above this, there will be relegation and promotion among the Divisions – the teams finishing ninth and tenth in the A-Divisions will be relegated to next season’s B-Divisions, while the first and second teams from the B-Divisions will replace them next season. The bottom three teams from each B-Division will be relegated to next season’s C-Division.
Click here to see the broadcast schedule of the championships.
Engage with the World Curling Federation during the Le Gruyère AOP European Curling Championships 2021 on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Weibo and by searching the hashtag #ECC2021 #curling