Preview: World Women’s Championship 2013
Following on from the World Junior Championships at the Olympic venue in Sochi, the world curling focus now moves to Latvia’s capital Riga, where The 2013 Titlis Glacier Mountain World Women’s Curling Championship is being staged from Saturday March 16th until Sunday March 24th, with the Volvo Sports Centre there playing host to twelve of the top teams from the international world of curling.
This is the first curling World Championship to be staged in Latvia, and Scotland will be represented by the national champions, the Eve Muirhead team – Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Claire Hamilton and new alternate Lauren Gray, along with coach David Hay – a unit that is supported by paper-makers Tullis Russell and travels with real medal hopes.
The twelve teams who have qualified for this event are: Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, hosts Latvia, Russia, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA.
There are many familiar names among the competitors. However they do not include current world champion Mirjam Ott from Switzerland, who won gold last year. She lost the right to defend her title when her team was beaten by the team skipped by Silvana Tirinzoni in the Swiss national championship final, and now Tirinzoni will represent her country on the world stage this year.
Among the newcomers is Canada’s Rachel Homan who will wear the Maple Leaf for the first time since she appeared in the 2010 World Junior Championships. She faces Scotland on the opening day of play in what will be her first-ever appearance at this level.
USA are represented by a re-cast team of seasoned Olympians, led by Erika Brown, which includes former world champions Debbie McCormick and Ann Swisshelm.
There are many well-known teams among the remainder of the European contingent, who all qualified from December’s 2012 European Championships in Karlstad, Sweden. Russia, led by Anna Sidorova, are now reigning European champions, having beaten Muirhead’s team in the European final, while Denmark’s Lene Nielsen, Italy’s Diane Gaspari, and Sweden’s Margaretha Sigfridsson are all experienced campaigners at this level.
Germany’s Andrea Schoepp, the 2010 world champion, will make a remarkable nineteenth World Championship appearance – a figure that would have been one higher had she not been ruled out last year because of a late injury.
Following the opening ceremony on Saturday March 16th, the teams battle it out in seventeen sessions of round-robin play, scheduled from Saturday 16th March until the evening of Thursday 21th March. After this, tie-breakers will be played , if needed, to determine the top four ranked teams, then it is on to Page Play-offs and then medal games, with the gold and bronze medal finals taking place on Sunday 24th March.
The Scots sit out the first session of round-robin play on Saturday morning, but open their campaign on Saturday evening against Canada. They then have two games on Sunday, against Sweden and then Germany.
Adding to the tension of this event, the 2013 world championships for both men and women are the last opportunities for nations to gather Olympic qualification points.
Scotland’s teams’ qualification points are applied to Great Britain’s Olympic teams, and Scotland/Great Britain is currently in sixth place on the women’s table.
Qualification for the Winter Olympic is available through cumulative points allocated – based on final rankings – at the 2012 and 2013 world championships, with the host nation and the top seven ranking nations of each gender being allocated a place. New for the 2014 Games, the WCF has introduced a stand-alone Olympic qualification event to determine the last two available places for each gender, which will take place in December 2013 at a venue yet to be announced.
To be eligible to participate in this eliminator, nations that have not already qualified for the Winter Olympic Games, either by ranking in the top seven qualifying positions or by being host nation, must have participated in the world championships in any one of 2011, 2012, or 2013.
Throughout the Championship, the usual RCCC international service will be available on this website, with full reports after every Scottish game as well as other important developments.
World Curling TV (WCTV), the television arm of the World Curling Federation, will provide extensive live and video-on-demand coverage to broadcasters around the world. WCF Broadcast Partners for the 2013 World Curling Championships include Eurosport (Eurosport, Eurosport 2 and Eurosport Player) in Europe, NHK in Japan, CCTV-5 in China, Universal Sports Network in the USA, SporTV in Brazil, TSN in Canada (RDS in Quebec).
In addition, Curling fans around the world will be able to follow selected live coverage of the events via the World Curling Federation’s YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/WorldCurlingTV
The live coverage schedule will be available along with news, live scores and galleries on the event website: http://wwcc2013.curlingevents.com
Event Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/WorldWomensCurlingChampionship
Event Twitter Hashtags: #wwcc2013 #curling
The Ford World Women’s Curling Championship 2014 will take place in St John, New Brunswick, Canada from 15-23 March in the Harbour Station – the same venue as the 1999 World Championships.
Report: Mike Haggerty
Photo: Leslie Ingram Brown