New teams bring unique experiences at first world championship

  • Netherlands have a team talk in front of the busy Northlands Coliseum crowd Photos: © Christian Leibbrandt

For Edmonton residents, it’s nothing new to see orange and blue playing on the ice surface at the Northlands Coliseum.

As the previous home arena of the Canadian NHL hockey team, the Edmonton Oilers, there’s one team in particular who are happy to see the odd orange Oiler jersey in the crowd – team Netherlands, who is led by skip Jaap Van Dorp, followed by third Wouter Goesgens, second Laurens Hoekman, lead Carlo Glasbergen, alternate Alexander Magan and coach, Canadian native Shari Leibbrant-Demmon.

“[The worlds] have been great – we love the crowd. We noticed that a lot of people are really respectful and have been cheering us on. I think they’re also seeing the work that we put in and we’re having some close games and we definitely belong here,” said skip Van Dorp.

One of the perks of coming from a country with few and far curlers between means you get to know your teammates pretty well.

“Carlo [lead] and I have been together for quite a long time – we’ve curled for 13, 14 years together. We’ve played together with Shari [coach] for a long time, she’s trained us throughout juniors. We grew up together curling,” Van Dorp said.

Although it’s only their third year as a unit, this young team, complete with two high school students, is familiar with playing together throughout the development programme their coach set up.

“Throughout the winter we train in Zoetermeer, with three sheets of dedicated ice. We do fitness, sport psychology sessions and have a fitness trainer – basically what you see from all the other teams,” the skip said.

He explained the big difference is the lack of curling ice and competition nearby.

“We don’t really have competitive tournaments at home that we can learn from. There’s one dedicated curling rink and three more clubs that have hockey ice, but they only have ice two hours a week.”

The foursome earned their way to Edmonton through a successful week at the Le Gruyère AOP European Curling Championships 2016 last November, after winning the final spot in the championship. They achieved this by defeating Austria in the best-of-three World Challenge Series – which puts the eighth placed A-Division team (Austria) against the winner of the B-Division (Netherlands).

“It was definitely our goal to come here and actually stay in the race for the Olympics as well. It might be tough here to qualify directly, but if we get on a roll then who knows what can happen,” Van Dorp said.

The Netherlands are joined by a second rookie team making their debut, after taking down a certain household curling name from Norway. Steffen Walstad [pictured below, © WCF / Richard Gray], third Markus Hoeiberg, second Magnus Nedregotten and lead Alexander Lindstroem, beat Thomas Ulsrud to make 2017 their first world championship appearance.

Although they are first-timers here in Edmonton, other teams in the championship aren’t taking the Norwegians lightly, as they’re considered a play-off contenders by many.

“It is really good [being at the world championships] - the atmosphere and the knowledge of the audience,” said Walstad. “We're having a blast. We have not been in any event similar to this at all, so it is a new experience for sure.”

Also, lead Alexander Linstroem highlighted how important it is for the team to compete well in Edmonton, despite it being their debut. He said: "We have done really well on tour this season, so heading into this event our main goal was to make it to the play-offs and with doing that make sure we secure the Olympic spot for Norway."
To follow these two teams at the Ford World Men’s Curling Championship 2017, in the Northlands Coliseum, in Edmonton, Canada, visit www.worldcurling.org/wmcc2017/livescores

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
Live broadcast coverage may be geo-blocked in your region. For all broadcast information visit, www.worldcurling.org/broadcast

To keep up-to-date with all the action from the FWMCC 2017, and the teams’ journey to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, follow us on Twitter, Instagram (@worldcurling) and Facebook (/WorldCurlingFederation) and use the hashtags: #FWMCC2017 #Roadto2018 #curling
by Emily Dwyer, feature writer