Füssen ready to host inaugural WCF Olympic Qualification Event.
December 5, 2013
Curling's international focus turns to Füssen in Bavaria, Germany when the BLZ Arena hosts the inaugural World Curling Federation Olympic Qualification Event, from Tuesday 10 to Sunday 15 December 2013.
For both men and women, eight nation places have already been allocated for Sochi, either through performances at the world curling championships of 2012 and 2013 or, in the case of the Russian Federation, as hosts. (See note below).
All of the nations that will be competing in Fuessen have taken part in one or other - or both - of the 2012 and 2013 championships, but did not gather enough points to qualify for Sochi directly.
The eight Men's Teams involved are: Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, and the USA. The Women's Teams are: China, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia and Norway.
The Czech men will be skipped by Jiri Snitil, who led his team to their nation's first international championship medal last year and best performance so far on the international stage when they won bronze at the 2012 Le Gruyère European Championship in Karlstad, Sweden.
The Finnish team is skipped by Aku Kauste, and has only been together for a couple of years. They qualified for the 2013 Ford World Men's Curling Championship in Victoria, Canada to allow them to join the Fuessen line-up.
French skip Thomas Dufour and fourth Tony Angiboust are among the most experienced players in the men's field for the event, with both having played at Olympic level before.
Hamburg's experienced John Jahr will lead Germany, fresh from having qualified his country for the 2014 World Men's Curling Championship in Beijing, China, by first winning the ‘B’ division of the Le Gruyère European Championships 2013 in Stavanger, Norway and then beating Latvia in the World Challenge series.
Yusuke Morozumi leads a team trying to become the first Japanese men to compete at an Olympic Winter Games since Japan hosted the 1998 Nagano edition, with the curling event held in Karuizawa. This team came second behind China in the 2013 Pacific-Asia Championships in Shanghai, China.
Soo-Hyuk Kim leads Korea, as the country that will host the 2018 Olympic Winter Games attempts to qualify their men’s team for Sochi. The Korean women have already secured a place. Kim’s team finished third in the recent Pacific-Asia Championships, while New Zealand, led by Peter de Boer, were fourth.
The US men’s team was the last of the fifteen teams to be named, with John Shuster's team beating four others in last month's US Olympic Curling trials.
In the women's line-up, Bingyu Wang skips a team that won gold at the 2009 Mount Titlis World Women's Championship in Gangneung in Korea, as well as silver at the 2008 Ford World Women's Championship in Vernon, Canada, and bronze at the 2011 Capital One World Women's Championship in Esbjerg, Denmark. This squad also won bronze medals at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games and, most recently, they were second at the 2013 Pacific-Asia Championships.
The Czech Republic women's team in Fuessen is built around skip Anna Kubeskova, who finished sixth at the 2013 Le Gruyère European Curling Championships.
Germany's women are led by the most experienced player in the whole field. Andrea Schoepp will be continuing a top-class international curling career that has stretched over 33 years and includes, among its highlights, winning curling's Olympic demonstration event in Albertville in 1992 and two world titles, the most recent of these being at the 2010 Ford World Women's Championship, held in Swift Current, Canada.
Veronica Zappone skips an Italian women's team that is among the youngest in Fuessen, and is also the least experienced in the field, having just made their senior international debut at the European Championships, where they finished tenth, at the bottom of the ‘A’ division.
Japan's women's skip, 34-year-old Ayumi Ogasawara, comes to Fuessen looking to qualify for what would be her third Olympic appearance. Then named Ayumi Onodera, she was in the Japanese team that finished seventh in the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy, and before that, eighth in Ogden at the 2002 Games of Salt Lake City, USA.
The international highlight so far for Latvia’s skip Iveta Stasa-Sarsune and her team was to represent her country on home ice in last season's 2013 Titlis Glacier Mountain World Women's Championship in Riga. This team also played in the 2010 Ford World Women's Championship in Swift Current, Canada. In both world appearances so far, they have finished at the bottom of the field.
The Norwegian women’s team is skipped by the experienced Marianne Roervik, who was in the team that took fourth place in the curling event of the 2006 Turin Games.
The men's and Women's Teams will play in seven sessions of round-robin play from Tuesday 10 December until Friday 13. After tie-breakers, if required, the top three teams will play down for the Olympic spots.
The round-robin leader will play the second-placed team in the first qualifier with the winner securing a place directly for Sochi. The loser of this game meets the third-placed round-robin team to decide the second and last available Olympic spot in what is sure to be a tense weekend.
Extensive televised coverage of the Olympic Qualification 2013 from Fuessen can be seen by viewers in Japan on NHK’s channel and digital media platforms. All Chinese games will be televised by China’s CCTV sport. Live coverage will also be available via the internet on the World Curling Federation’s YouTube Channel World Curling TV. www.youtube.com/user/WorldCurlingTV
Event website: www.sochi2014.curlingevents.com/oqe for further information, schedules of play, full team line ups and results and more information about the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
Event Facebook: www.facebook.com/worldcurlingfederation
Twitter Hashtags: #oqe2013 #curling
NOTE: The eight men's and women's nations already qualified for Sochi 2014 are (in ranking order): www.sochi2014.curlingevents.com/olympics/olympic-qualification
Men: Canada, Sweden, Great Britain (Scotland's world championship points are used for qualification purposes), Norway, Denmark, China, Switzerland, and Russia (as host).
Women: Sweden, Switzerland, Great Britain (Scotland's world championship points are used for qualification purposes), Canada, USA, Denmark, Korea and Russia (as host).