As curlers bid Esbjerg “farvel,” Scotland preps for ECC 2016

  • Photo: WCF / Laura Godenzi

As the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships (ECC) 2015 in Esbjerg, Denmark reaches its climax, preparations for the ECC 2016 in Braehead, Scotland are ramping up.

Braehead’s ECC 2016, between 18 and 26 November, will be the first of four major international curling championships Scotland will host in the next five years, together with the World Junior Curling Championships 2018 in Aberdeen, the World Wheelchair Curling Championship 2019 in Stirling and the World Men’s Curling Championship 2020 in Glasgow, at the iconic SSE Hydro.

Mark Stewart, the senior events manager for EventScotland, an agency devoted to developing major sporting and cultural events in Scotland, was one of a team of Scottish sporting event organisers who were in Esbjerg this week to learn from Denmark’s experience hosting ECC 2015.

“Scotland’s the home of curling,” said Stewart. “We’ve got excellent expertise across the country, event venues, sports governing bodies, college and local authorities and marketing agencies, and with curling having such a strong resonance with Scotland, it was time, we felt, to host some of the major events.”

Holding large-scale international sports events, such as the ECC 2016, comes with huge benefits for the host country.

He said: “One benefit is about promoting Scotland as a place to visit, a destination, so that’s achieved through international TV coverage and media coverage that the events pick up.”

“There’s undoubtedly also an economic benefit that comes out of hosting the event because you have visiting teams in both the men’s and women’s competitions and spectators staying in Scotland throughout the week.”

Developing the sport is also a key reason for bringing more international curling competitions to Scotland, Stewart said. With people attending curling games and watching matches on TV, he said, the ECC 2016 “becomes the platform that helps promote the different initiatives of places like the Royal Caledonian Curling Club to promote curling as a sport.”

Lars Lundov, the CEO at Sport Event Denmark, one of the organisations responsible for bringing the ECC 2015 to Esbjerg, looks at hosting an international curling event slightly differently.

He said: “Of course it affects the economy, but I think it’s important to say that the economic impact is not the most important issue when we’re hosting major sporting events in Denmark.”

“The most important thing is to have an international event to give spectators a greater experience, to give the playing teams a better experience.”

For Danish skip Rasmus Stjerne, who skipped his team to Gold in the ECC 2015 B-Division, winning in front of Danish fans made the tournament all the more memorable.

“It’s major,” Stjerne said. “It’s been a great week seeing those folks being in the stands and cheering us on.”

And, like the Danes here in Esbjerg, Scotland will surely be buoyed by their home support at the next Le Gruyère European Curling Championships in Glasgow [18-26 November 2016] next year!

by Patrick Butler (Journalism Sport Media Trainee)