Muirhead and Edwards Set For Swiss Euro Challenge
Scottish skips Eve Muirhead and David Edwards head to Switzerland today with their teams for the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2014 which get underway on Saturday 22 November in Champéry.
The 40th edition of the championships will see ten men’s and women’s curling teams from the World Curling Federation’s European Zone competing in the A Division. A further sixteen men’s teams and ten women’s teams will compete in the B Division. As in 2010, the Palladium in Champéry will stage the A Division event, with the B Division games being played in the nearby Verney Ice Rink in Monthey.
As often is the case with the post-Olympics season, many WCF Member Associations are fielding new teams to this level of play and familiar skips are heading new line ups as, after Sochi, sights are now set on the next Olympic Winter Games in 2018 in Pyeongchang, Korea.
In the women’s A Division Scotland will be represented by Eve Muirhead’s Olympic Bronze Medallists, Anna Sloan (Third), Vicki Adams (Second) and Sarah Reid who replaces Lead Claire Hamilton after she announced her decision to move on after the 2014 Winter Games. Lauren Gray completes the line up as Alternate. Team Muirhead earned their place at the European Championships after winning the Scottish European Playdowns in Perth last month.
In the women’s event, Sweden are the defending champions. They are represented by a new team to this level, skipped by Anna Hasselborg. The other eight teams in the women’s A Division are: the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Russia and Switzerland.
The Swiss will be represented by reigning world champions, skipped by Binia Feltscher. Anna Sidorova skipped Russia to a historic first world medal – bronze – at last season’s world women’s championship and returns with the same team this season. Linda Klimova returns for the third time to skip the Czech Republic at these championships. Lene Nielsen from Denmark fields a new line up. Latvia will be represented by Iveta Stasa-Sarsune. A new German line-up competes this time round, skipped by Daniela Driendl. Both Estonia (Maile Molder) and Finland (Sanna Puustinen) gained promotion from last season’s B Division. It is the first time that Estonia competes at this level of the European Championships.
In the men’s A Division championship, Scotland will be represented by David Edwards, who defeated David Murdoch at the Scottish European Playdowns to earn his team a place in Switzerland. His line up comprises John Penny (Third), Scott MacLeod (Second) and Billy Morton (Lead) with Olympic Silver Medallist Tom Brewster as Alternate (not pictured).
Hosts Switzerland, skipped by Sven Michel, will be defending the title they won in Stavanger, Norway, last year. Michel brings a new line up to Champéry. The other eight teams in the men’s A Division are: the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Norway, Russia and Sweden.
There are line-up changes for: the Czech Republic skipped by Jiri Snitil who took a historic first bronze medal in this Championship in 2012, Rasmus Stjerne and his team from Denmark, 2014 Olympic bronze medallist and past world (2013) and European champion (2013) Niklas Edin leads a new look team from Sweden. Evegeny Arikhipov skips a new Russian line-up.
Meanwhile, reigning World Champions, Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud and his teammates and their fancy pants won gold at the event in Champéry in 2010 and will look to repeat the exploit this year. Ritvars Gulbis and his team from Latvia return to improve on their 9th place finish in Norway last year. Newcomers to this level are Italy, skipped by Amos Mosaner. Italy qualified out of the B Division last year along with Germany who will be skipped by Alexander Baumann.
In the last ten years Scotland’s men’s and women’s teams have achieved 10 European Championship medals including 3 Gold, 4 Silver and 3 Bronze. At the 2013 European Championships Scotland’s women (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Claire Hamilton and Alternate Lauren Gray) claimed Silver medal while Scotland’s men (David Murdoch, Tom Brewster, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews and Michael Goodfellow) took Bronze (pictured left Photo WCF/Richard Gray).
As well as being a Championship in its own right, the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships also acts as the European qualifier for the World Championships. The top eight nations in both men’s and women’s events in Champéry will go on to the world stage, with the 2015 World Women’s Curling Championship taking place in Sapporo, Japan from 14-22 March and the Ford World Men’s Curling Championship 2015 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada between 28 March and 5 April.
It is not just the A Division teams that are vying for world qualification. The teams that win the B Division will then challenge the eighth-place teams in the A Division in a best-of-three series, with the winners taking the last available slots at the world championships.
The ten teams in the women’s B Division are: Austria, Belarus, England, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia and Turkey. The sixteen teams in the men’s B Division are divided into two sections. A Group consists of Croatia, England, Estonia, France, Israel, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Turkey. The men’s B Group has Austria, Belgium, Spain, Finland, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Wales.
The competition opens with round-robin play from Saturday 22 November. Team Edwards begin their campaign against Norway while Muirhead take on Denmark in their first game.
The Royal Caledonian Curling Club is delighted to continue its long standing partnership with paper, packaging and printing experts Tullis Russell who are Official Team Sponsors of Scotland’s Men’s and Women’s European Curling Teams.
Official Sponsors of Scotland’s European Teams
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Televised coverage of the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2014 can be seen by viewers in Europe on Eurosport and Eurosport 2. Live coverage will also be available on the World Curling Federation’s YouTube Channel World Curling TV. Click for complete coverage details.
Daily Reports: Throughout the Championships, the RCCC website news page will carry draw-by-draw reports, player reaction and action photography.
Event website: For further information, schedules of play, full team line ups and results visit European Championships
Twitter Hashtags: #ecc2014 #curling
Photo top background: WCF/Richard Gray