Preview: European Curling Championships
Play gets underway in the 2012 Le Gruyere European Curling Championships on Saturday 8th December in Karlstad’s Löfbergs Lila Arena and the Karlstad Curling Club, as Sweden hosts these Championships for the fourth time in the event’s history.
Scotland’s men and women will be playing in the Löfbergs Lila Arena, where the A division games will be staged, while the B division teams – including men and women from England, and men’s teams from Ireland and Wales – will battle it out on the ice of the Karlstad Curling Club.
Both the Scottish men and women face a challenging opening day.
Tom Brewster’s double world silver medallists, third Greg Drummond, second Scott Andrews, lead Michael Goodfellow and new rotating alternate David Murdoch, have two games on Saturday’s first day of 10-team round-robin play. They open their campaign against the Czech Republic’s Jiri Snitil, who has claimed victory over Scotland more than once, including at last year’s European Championships in Moscow.
After this, the Scottish men, who are coached by National Coach Soren Gran, face a new German line-up that includes well-known players Andreas Lang and Daniel Herberg in their second game of the week on Saturday evening.
In between these men’s games, Scotland’s Eve Muirhead (pictured with her 2011 European Champions) opens the defence of her title in the toughest possible way – a match-up with reigning world champion Mirjam Ott of Switzerland.
The core Muirhead team line-up remains the same as last season – third Anna Sloan, second Vicki Adams and lead Claire Hamilton, with Sarah Reid coming in as alternate, all under the watchful eyes of team coach David Hay and National Coach Rhona Martin.
With the focus for the top teams increasingly turning to the 2014 Winter Olympic games in Sochi – just some 14 months away – the standard and competitiveness at this event will be high. Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud – current Olympic silver medallist – will be going for his third European crown in succession, while last year’s losing finalist Niklas Edin of Sweden, who won this title in 2009 in Aberdeen, will be playing in front of his home-town crowd.
As well as reigning world champion Ott from Switzerland, the Scottish women face some strong opposition, including the same Swedish team, skipped by lead player Margaretha Sigfridsson, that they beat in last year’s final. Other potentially strong teams include those led by Denmark’s Lene Nielsen, Russia’s Anna Siderova and the perennial Andrea Schopp of Germany, who is making her 26th appearance in this event.
As ever at the European Championships, qualification for this season’s world championships is also up for grabs as well as titles and medals. And as Olympic qualifying points can only be gained at world championships, the stakes are high indeed.
This site will carry its normal international championship service, with full reports being posted in our news section after every Scottish game, including player reaction and other details.
Extensive televised coverage of the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2012 can be seen by viewers in Europe on Eurosport. 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.
Event Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EuropeanCurlingChampionships
Twitter Hashtags: #ecc2012 #curling
European Curling Federation http://europeancurling.com/
Photo: Leslie Ingram-Brown