European Championships Underway This Weekend
The international spotlight falls on Moscow this weekend when Russia hosts its first-ever top rank international championships event – the 2011 Le Gruyère European Curling Championships. After Saturday morning’s opening ceremony, play gets underway in the mammoth Megasport Arena.
Although both of Scotland’s teams are new line-ups this year, each has real medal prospects.
At last year’s Europeans, Scottish skip Eve Muirhead had to settle for silver when she lost a tight final against Sweden, and this year with her new line-up of lead Claire Hamilton, second Vicki Adams, third Anna Sloan and alternate Kay Adams, with Muirhead’s father Gordon as team coach, she is looking to go one better.
Two-times world champion David Murdoch skips the Scottish men’s team of lead Richard Woods, second Ross Paterson, third Glen Muirhead, alternate David Edwards, coached by David Ramsay, and he too is looking to add to the three European gold medals he already has in his collection.
Despite these ambitions, both skips are clear on what is the first priority for both teams at this event. Murdoch speaks for them both when he says, “the target, as always, is to get Scotland qualified (for the World Championships) and then take it from there”.
While both teams are aware of the extra qualification pressure that this event brings, both skips are experienced enough to deal with it. Muirhead says, “first things first, but you try to forget about that. This year we’re going to play hard to get to the final again. The Europeans is a great event, and I’m looking forward to it” adding, “I think this year, with a new team, we’ve got a chance to do well”.
The Scottish women are first onto the ice, with two round-robin games on Saturday, against Norway’s Linn Githmark and then Denmark’s Lene Nielsen. In between, the Scottish men open their campaign against Italy’s Joel Retornaz.
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.
The week’s competition starts with round-robin play and, after tie-breakers on Thursday 8 December if needed, page playoffs, semi-finals and promotion challenge games (including a challenge from the top B Group teams as they try to qualify for this season's world championships) take place. Medal games take place on Friday 9 and Saturday 10 December.
Draw-by-draw reportage will feature on the RCCC website shortly after each game, while extensive televised coverage of the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships can be seen by viewers in Europe on Eurosport. Additional live and on demand coverage will be available via the internet on the Eurosport Player. http://www.worldcurling.org/ecc2011-tv-and-web-coverage
Links to results can be found on the event website: www.ecc2011.ru
All results will be mirrored on the World Curling Federation (WCF) results database: http://results.worldcurling.org/default.aspx
Full team line ups and schedules of play can be seen at http://www.worldcurling.org/le-gruyere-european-curling-championships-2011
Daily updates from the event will be posted on the WCF website: http://www.worldcurling.org