Sweden Set to Host 2012 Le Gruyère European Curling Championships
December 3, 2012
For the fourth time in the event's history, Sweden will host the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships when play gets underway on Saturday 8th December in Karlstad's Löfbergs Lila Arena (men and women A Group) and the Karlstad Curling Club (men and women B Group). The previous Swedish host venues were Vasteras (1983), Sundsvall (1994) and Örnsköldsvik (2008).
This will be the 38th edition of these Championships since the inaugural event in Megève, France in 1975. In both the men’s and women’s events, ten national Teams will compete in the A Group while a further ten women’s Teams and sixteen men’s Teams will compete in the B Group event.
2010 and 2011 European men’s champions – Norway - led by Thomas Ulsrud, return this year, to aim for a hat-trick of victories as they defend the title they won twelve months ago in Moscow and in Champéry, Switzerland in 2010. In last year’s final, Ulsrud’s team, who are also Olympic silver medallists, beat Sweden's Niklas Edin, who took this title in Aberdeen in 2009.
Edin and his team have extra incentive this time round as they are all from Karlstad and will be eager to please the home crowd.
Not surprisingly, given the increased focus on developing Teams that will represent their nations at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, there are many familiar faces in the A Group line-ups.
Jiri Snitil once again leads the Czech team that is building experience all the time, while Denmark's Rasmus Stjerne, France's Thomas Dufour, Russia's Alexey Tselousov, and Switzerland's Sven Michel all skip line-ups for whom the Le Gruyère European Championships is a familiar event.
Although there are some familiar names in the team - among them skip Andreas Lang and third Daniel Herberg, Germany is represented by a new combination at this event.
Scotland will be represented by the quartet led by Tom Brewster who have taken world silver in the last two seasons, but with alternate David Murdoch, who has skipped his country to victory in the Le Gruyère European Championships three times, rotated into the team.
By contrast, Hungary, skipped by third player György Nagy, is appearing in the A Group for the first time, having qualified from last season's B Group.
In the women's A Group, Scotland's Eve Muirhead leads the same team that won in Moscow last year. To take gold, the Scots beat Sweden in the final and the same Swedish team - skipped by lead player Margaretha Sigfridsson - will be hoping to use home advantage this time round.
Like the men, there are several familiar line-ups in the women's event. These include Teams led by Linda Klimova of the Czech Republic, Denmark's Lene Nielsen, Italy's Diana Gaspari, and Russia's Anna Sidorova - not forgetting the reigning world champions, led by Switzerland's Mirjam Ott.
Former champion Andrea Schöpp represents Germany again after having been forced out through injury just before the 2012 World Women’s Championship. The German team includes Nicole Muskatewitz as alternate, who represented Germany at the inaugural Youth Olympic Winter Games in Innsbruck, Austria earlier this year. This is the 25th appearance for Schöpp at this event, stretching the appearance record she already holds.
Both Hungary and Finland won promotion from the B Group last year to complete the women's A Group line-up. While the Hungarians, skipped by Ildiko Szekeres, retain the same line-up from last year, the Finnish team is slightly different, now led by new skip Anne Malmi. Complete team line-ups can be seen on the event website: http://ecc2012.curlingevents.com
A unique facet of these Championships is that it is not just about medals and titles, qualification for this season's world curling championships is also up for grabs. And, as Olympic qualifying points can only be gained at world championships, the stakes are high.
In the men's event, the top eight finishers will qualify for the 2013 Ford World Men's Curling Championship, being staged in Victoria, Canada while in the women's event, the top seven finishers will qualify for the World Women's Curling Championship being held in Riga, Latvia. (As host country Latvia is guaranteed a place in the 12-team line-up).
The sixteen men’s Teams in the B Group, which is split into two sections, are: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, England, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey and Wales.
These Championships now extend to C Groups for both men and women, which were contested earlier in the season in Erzurum, Turkey. From this event, on home ice, Turkey gained promotion to both the men's and women's B Group, joined by the men's team from Croatia and the women's team from Belarus.
All groups will open with round-robin play and, after tie-breakers on Thursday 13h December if needed, semi-finals, promotion challenge games (including a challenge from the top B Group Teams as they try to qualify for this season’s world championships) and medal finals take place on Friday 14th and Saturday 15th December.
Extensive televised coverage of the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2012 can be seen by viewers in Europe on Eurosport and in Sweden on TV4. Additional live coverage will be available via the internet on the Eurosport Player for fans in Europe and, for the first time, coverage will also be available on the World Curling Federation’s YouTube Channel World Curling TV for viewers outside of the Eurosport TV/Player European Territory. Complete coverage details can be seen here: http://ecc2012.curlingevents.com/tv-broadcast-web-tv-coverage-schedule
Event website: http://ecc2012.curlingevents.com for further information, schedules of play, full team line ups and Results.
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European Curling Federation http://europeancurling.com/