Spain look for more success in St Gallen after strong year

  • Photos: © WCF / Richard Gray

Spain’s rise has been a curling feel-good story over the last few years.

Both their men and women’s teams won gold medals in Palau de Gel d’Andorra, Andorra, at the European Curling Championships C-Division earlier this year to qualify for the B-Division.

This is the first time since 2015 that the men have reached the second tier at the European Curling Championships and at the time of writing, they even a chance at promotion to the A-Division after six wins out of a possible seven.

An overall B-Division victory would give them the chance to play Italy in the best-of-three World Challenge Series for the last European place at this season’s World Curling Championship in Las Vegas, United States.

Sergio Vez, the Spanish skip, was hugely positive in St Gallen. He said, “we knew it was going to be a hard week. Our goal was to make the play-offs and we have. We are really happy.”

Vez also explained there are now over 200 curlers in Spain, with clubs in Andalucia, Aragón, Castilla y León, Catalonia, Madrid and País Vasco. He also goes on to speak about the improvement in training facilities, saying, “we now have facilities in Jaca, close to the Pyrenees, which we use for the first four months of the season. We practise there three times a month and that really helps us. We normally had to use hockey rinks which meant a lot of travelling.”

He also talked about his excitement about the possibility of a place in the A-Division, “we are really going to try to focus on that. The last time we were in the A-Division was in 2008, nearly ten years ago, so to know we are close to this is great.”

Vez walked away with a large smile on his face and nobody can blame him. His dream of reaching the top tier is just that bit closer.

For the women, this will be their second stint at the B-Division, having appeared once in 2013.

Spanish skip, Oihane Otaegi, is keen to highlight the efforts of her country’s federation and the progress it has made. She said, “the Spanish Federation is organising more competitions and events. Two years ago, we started with the league, and that means we have more games during the year. We also have more bonspiels and we’ve started a rookie championship for beginners.”

Otaegi is proud of her team’s progress but believes that the A-Division is still just out of reach due to her team’s other commitments.

She explained, “at the moment, it is difficult to see the Spanish women in the A-Division. We have to travel a lot and we are working, which means we have to take time off for a lot of events and can only travel at the weekend. This makes it very hard to try to catch the top teams.”

However, if the Spanish women continue to amass more success over the next few years, who knows just what may happen…

To keep up-to-date with all the action from these championships, and the teams’ journey to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, follow us on Twitter, Instagram (@worldcurling) and Facebook (/WorldCurlingFederation) and use the hashtags: #ECC2017 #curling

by Kristian Ross, sport media trainee