International Curling focus turns to World Juniors 2012 in Sweden

The international curling focus will turn to Sweden when the World Junior Curling Championships 2012 get underway in Östersund, Sweden, on Saturday 3rd March.

Altogether ten junior women’s and ten men’s teams will compete at the Z-hallen in Östersund in the heart of Sweden, this the third occasion on which Östersund has hosted this event – the others being in 1999 and 2008.

The ten women’s teams taking part are Canada, Czech Republic, Italy, Japan, Norway, Russia, Scotland, hosts Sweden, Switzerland and the USA.

Last year in Perth, Scotland, Eve Muirhead won a record fourth junior world crown, but she is now too old to compete, meaning that Scotland’s defence of the title will be in the hands of a team led by Hannah Fleming. Canada is led by Jocelyn Peterman, while Cory Christensen skips USA. Italy, skipped by Federica Apollonio, became the last European nation to qualify when they won the European Junior Curling Challenge in Denmark earlier this year to complete the European line-up.

Japan won the Pacific-Asia Junior Championships to claim their place in the line-up and now Sayaka Yoshimua and her team will be hoping to improve on the eighth place they secured last year. Other teams returning this year with the same or similar line-ups are: 2011 Junior Bronze medallists Russia (skipped by Anna Sidorova who also won bronze at the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2011 in Moscow), Norway (skipped by Kristine Davanger), Sweden (Sara McManus skipping instead of her older sister Jonna), and Switzerland (third Briar Hürlimann and lead Janine Wyss returning).

The ten men’s teams are Canada, China, Czech Republic, Finland, Italy, Norway, Scotland, hosts Sweden, Switzerland and the USA.

Hosts Sweden won gold in 2011, and it falls to the team led by Rasmus Wranå to defend the gold medals won in Perth by Oskar Eriksson’s team. As in the women’s event, the Italian men were victorious in the European Junior Curling Challenge, allowing skip Andrea Pilzer and his team to join the line-up, while China, represented by Xiuyue Ma’s team, won the men’s section of the Pacific-Asia Junior Championships. Canada is led by Brendan Bottcher and the USA skip is Stephen Dropkin, with neither of these line-ups taking part last year.

Three teams in the men’s line-up are almost the same as last year: Norway, who won bronze in Perth, has Markus Høiberg moving up to skip. The Czech Republic, skipped by Lukas Klima, finished ninth last year, while the Finnish team led by Iiro Sipola was ranked one place above them.

Among the other newcomer teams at this level are Scotland, skipped by Kyle Smith and Switzerland skipped by Dominik Märki.

Round-robin play commences on Saturday 3rd March and continues until Thursday 8th March. Thereafter tie-breakers will be held if needed, followed by Page Play-offs, with the gold and bronze medal games being staged on Sunday 11th March.

Curling fans around the world will be able to follow live coverage of the event on the World Curling Federation’s YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/WorldCurlingTV In a new venture for this event, the action will be live streamed globally through YouTube. www.wjcc2012.curlingevents.com/wjcc-2012-live-coverage-schedule

The live coverage and schedule will also be available along with news, live scores and galleries here on the event website. www.wjcc2012.curlingevents.com

Event Facebook Page: Hit ‘like’ to keep updated: www.facebook.com/wjcc2012sweden

The World Junior Curling Championships 2013 will take place in Sochi, Russia, from 28 February-10 March.

WCF Rules of Competition:
To be eligible to play in the World Junior Curling Championships (WJCC) and qualifying events, a player must be less than 21 years of age by the end of the 30th day of June of the year immediately preceding the year in which the championship is to take place.