Monday 13 March 2017
The international curling spotlight turns to China on Saturday (18 March), when the CPT World Women's Curling Championship 2017 (WWCC) gets underway at the Capital Gymnasium in Beijing.
This event is the last chance for women’s teams to earn Olympic Qualification Points for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games [8-15 February] in Gangneung, Republic of Korea. It is also the second time that that the World Curling Federation (WCF) has staged a World Curling Championship in China, the last time being in 2014, when the Capital Gymnasium hosted the CPT World Men’s Curling Championship.
This event represents another significant step forward in curling’s journey towards the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing. It also comes in the wake of the WCF and the Chinese Curling Association coming together to sign a formal Memorandum of Understanding in December 2016. This will see the two organisations work together to develop the sport of curling, both in China and across the world.
The venue, originally opened in 1968, has a seating capacity of more than 17,000 and was renovated and used as a volleyball venue during the 2008 Olympic Summer Games.
With 12 of the top women's teams from the international world of curling taking part, play will continue until Sunday 26 March, when the medals will be decided and the brand-new Word Women’s Curling Championship trophy will be lifted for the very first time.
This is the World Curling Federation’s 50th anniversary season and as part of the celebration two identical world trophies – for women and men – were commissioned. The trophies were designed and created by Thomas Lyte of England.
The field for WWCC 2017 includes three former world champion skips – from China (Bingyu Wang), Scotland (Eve Muirhead) and Switzerland (Alina Paetz); one skip making her tenth appearance – Italy’s Diana Gaspari; and two newcomer teams at this level, representing Korea – lead by Eunjung Kim – and Sweden – skipped by Anna Hasselborg.
The 12 teams who have qualified are: Canada, hosts China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Korea, Russia, Scotland, defending champion nation Sweden, Switzerland and USA.
Canada is represented by Rachel Homan’s team. This is a third appearance for Homan who previously took bronze at the Titlis Glacier Mountain World Women’s Curling Championship 2013 in Riga, Latvia and silver at the Ford World Women’s Curling Championship 2014 in Saint John, Canada. The team representing the host nation is skipped by Bingyu Wang, who took China’s first-ever world title in Gangneung, Republic of Korea in 2009.
Anna Kubeskova will be making her third appearance at this championship as she skips Czech Republic, while Denmark’s skip Lene Nielsen has already made seven previous appearances, with a best finish among these of fourth place in 2011 on home ice in Esbjerg.
Germany’s skip Daniela Jentsch has appeared at three previous championships, however, Italy’s Diana Gaspari is arguably the most experienced in a career that stretches all the way back to 2003, in Winnipeg, Canada.
By contrast, the Korean team led by Eunjung Kim – who won silver at the Asian Winter Games 2017 in Sapporo, Japan last month – is appearing at world level for the first time, having won the Pacific-Asia Curling Championships 2016, in front of a home crowd in Uiseong last November, to gain qualification.
Anna Sidorova leads a Russian team that has taken bronze in the last three World Curling Championships, while having won World Curling Championship gold in 2013, and silver in 2010, Scotland's Olympic bronze medallist skip Eve Muirhead will be looking to return to the podium.
Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg leads a team making their debut at this level, having taken silver at the Le Gruyère AOP European Championships 2016 in Braehead, Scotland. Hasselborg has a world junior title to her name, from 2010.
Defending champions Switzerland have won a remarkable four world titles in the last five years – with three different teams – and the team that represents Switzerland this time, skipped by Alina Paetz, was one of them – taking gold in Sapporo, Japan in 2015.
The field is rounded off by USA, whose skip Nina Roth finished fifth when she last appeared – as third player – at the 2010 championship in Canada. USA reached these championships by winning the best of five Americas Challenge, against Brazil, in January.
Following the opening ceremony on Saturday 18 March, the teams battle it out in 17 sessions of round-robin play, until the evening of Thursday 23 March. After this, one session tie-breakers will be played, if needed, to determine the top four ranked teams.
Then, curling's Page play-off system will be used, in which the top two ranked teams from the round-robin face each other (Page 1v2), with the winner of that game going direct to the final. The loser is given a second chance by playing a semi-final against the winner of the play-off between the teams ranked third and fourth (Page 3v4). The winner of that sole semi-final goes onto the final to compete for gold and the loser faces the Page 3v4 loser for bronze. These gold and bronze medal finals take place on Sunday 26 March. The bronze medal game will be at 10:00 and the gold medal game at 15:00 (these times are +8 hours ahead of Universal Coordinated Time).
This is the last event at which points to qualify for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, Republic of Korea will be available. The qualification process involves this championship and the Ford World Women's Championship 2016, which was held in Swift Current, Canada.
As hosts, Korea have qualified for PyeongChang, as will the seven teams with the best qualifying points tally from 2016 and 2017. The final two places on the Olympic line-up will be decided at a special Olympic Qualification Event, to be held between 5 and 10 December 2017, in Pilsen, Czech Republic.
World Curling TV (WCTV), the television arm of the World Curling Federation, will produce extensive live coverage for broadcasters around the world. WCF Broadcast Partners for the event include Eurosport, TSN in Canada (RDS in Quebec), CCTV-5 China, La Chaine Equipe France, NHK Japan, SBS Korea, TVP Poland, MatchTV Russia, NBC and UniversalHD in the USA.
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 WWCC 2017, and the teams’ journey to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, follow us on Twitter, Instagram (@worldcurling) and Facebook (/WorldCurlingFederation) and use the hashtags: #WWCC2017 #Roadto2018 #curling