VoIP Defender WJCC 2017 testing teams from around the globe and the 2018 Olympic venue

  • Gangneung Curling Centre Courtesy of PyeongChang Organising Committee Olympic Winter Games

Women’s and men’s teams representing 12 Member Associations from across the globe will come together in the Republic of Korea on Thursday (16 February), as the VoIP Defender World Junior Curling Championships 2017 (WJCC) gets underway.

This Olympic Winter Games 2018 test event will be held in the Gangneung Curling Centre, in Gangneung, Korea from 16 to 26 February.

Altogether ten women’s and ten men’s teams will take part. In each gender, six of these teams qualified from their performances at last year’s VoIP Defender World Junior Championships 2016 in Copenhagen, Denmark, while – again in each gender – a further three teams gained qualification at the World Junior-B Curling Championships 2017, held in Oestersund, Sweden last month. As hosts, the two Korean teams join the others and complete the line-up.

To be eligible to play in the World Junior Curling Championships, 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 the championships are to take place.

As well as being a World Curling Championship event, this competition also acts as curling’s test event for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games, because the Gangneung Curling Centre is the Olympic and Paralympic venue next year. The World Wheelchair Curling Championship 2017 – the second of the two test events – will be held here between 4 and 11 March.

The curling centre is at the heart of the Gangneung cluster for the 2018 PyeongChang Games – where all the ice sport will be held – and is the only venue in that cluster to have existed prior to PyeongChang winning its bid. It was opened in 1998, has a seating capacity of 3,500, and has undergone renovations ahead of the Games. Previously, it was named the Gangneung Indoor Ice Rink and was the venue for the World Women’s Curling Championship 2009 as well as other international ice-based competitions.

The ten women’s teams taking part are: defending champion nation Canada, Hungary, Japan, hosts Korea, Russia, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and USA.

Of these, Scotland, Turkey and Japan qualified from the World Junior-B event.

Defending champions Canada are represented by a new team, skipped by Kristen Streifel, while Hungary’s skip Bernadett Biro moves up from lead in last year’s line-up, which finished fourth overall.

For Korea, Min Ji Kim leads the same quartet that took bronze medals in 2016, while a new line-up wears the colours of Japan. Misaki Tanaka is skip for Japan. Maria Baksheeva returns to skip in a re-cast Russian team, looking to better the seventh place of last year. Scotland’s skip Sophie Jackson and third player Naomi Brown return, having won the Junior-B event in Oestersund with their new team-mates, while for Switzerland, Selina Witschonke skips this year, having been the alternate last year when the Swiss finished sixth overall.

Skip Isabella Wranaa – fresh from winning silver at the Winter Universiade Games in Almaty, Kazakhstan last week – and third player Jennie Waahlin were in the Sweden team that finished fourth at the 2015 Championship, and Turkey’s Dilsat Yildiz returns for last year’s event to skip a new line-up. The USA team is making its debut at this level, lead by Annmarie Dubberstein.

The ten men’s teams competing are: Canada, China, Italy, hosts Korea, Norway, defending champion nation Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and USA.

Canada took bronze last year and are represented by a new line-up, skipped by Winter Youth Olympic Games 2016 gold medallist, Tyler Tardi. Neither China or Italy were in last year’s line-up, with both qualifying for this year’s Championship through their performances at the Junior-B Championship. China are skipped by Ming Jie Yuan and leading Italy is Marco Onnis.

Hosts Korea are skipped by Ki Jeong Lee. Korea’s vice-skip Yu Jin Seong, returns having skipped last year when the Koreans finished tenth. The Norway quartet is the same team that finished fifth overall and features cousins Magnus (skip) and Bendik Ramsjfell, coached this time round by their famous uncle Bent – former Olympic champion and current World Curling Federation (WCF) vice president.

For the defending champion nation, skip Cameron Bryce leads a Scotland team performing at this level for the first time. Along with China and Italy, Turkey qualified from this year’s Junior-B Championship, and their skip Ugurcan Karogoz returns, leading a different team from last year, where he finished ninth overall.

Sweden, Switzerland and USA all have teams making their World Curling Championship debuts. Johan Nygren leads Sweden, taking the helm for Switzerland is Jan Hess and skipping USA is Andrew Stopera.

Altogether 24 sessions of round-robin play will take place, concluding on Thursday 23 February. Thereafter tie-breakers will be held, if needed, to establish the top four teams in each gender.

After this, curling's Page Play-off system will be used, in which the top two ranked teams face each other, with the winner of that game going direct to the gold medal final, and the loser being given a second chance by playing a semi-final against the winner of the Play-off between the teams ranked third and fourth.

The winner of that sole semi-final goes on to the final to play for gold and silver medals, and the loser faces the Page 3v4 loser for bronze medals. The women’s medal games will take place on Saturday 25 February at 15:00, while the men’s medal games will be staged on Sunday 26 February at 14:00. The times are Korea Standard Time, nine hours ahead of Universal Coordinated Time.

Sportsmanship Awards are presented at the closing ceremony to a junior man and woman selected by their peers as those ‘who exemplify the traditional values of skill, honesty, fair play, sportsmanship and friendship in the world of curling.’ Lastly, throughout the championships the WCF will be running a #CurlClean campaign with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) – a social media lead initiative engaging and educating athletes on anti-doping.

Curling fans around the world will be able to follow live coverage of these championships on the event website and the World Curling Federation’s YouTube Channel, www.youtube.com/WorldCurlingTV, from Sunday 19 February.

For all broadcast information visit, www.worldcurling.org/broadcast

To keep up-to-date with all the action from the WJCC 2017, and the preparations for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, follow us on Twitter, Instagram (@worldcurling) and Facebook (/WorldCurlingFederation) and use the hashtags: #WJCC2016 #curling #CurlClean #Roadto2018

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