International curling returns to Estonia with Le Gruyère AOP Europeans

  • Estonia women at 2017 Europeans © WCF / Richard Gray

International championship curling returns to Estonia when the Le Gruyère AOP European Curling Championships 2018 gets underway on Saturday (17 November) in Tallinn’s Tondiraba Ice Hall.

Previously, the World Junior Curling Championships 2015 had been successfully staged at this venue, just after it opened, but the European championships – with 20 women’s and 26 men’s teams taking part, is larger than the World Juniors.

This year, a total of 26 Member Associations will be represented. For both women and men, tens teams will compete in the A-Division, meanwhile a further ten women’s and 16 men’s teams will compete in the B-Division, which includes the host nation Estonia.

The ten A-Division women’s teams are: Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Russia, Scotland, Sweden and Switzerland.

  • Scotland, skipped by Eve Muirhead, are the defending European champions [pictured above, © WCF / Eakin Howard].
  • Sweden, skipped by Anna Hasselborg, are the reigning Olympic champions, as well as current world and European silver medallists.
  • Switzerland’s vice-skip Alina Paetz was world champion in both 2012 and 2015.
  • Danish skip Madeleine Dupont will be making her eighth European appearance, while her sister, third player Denise, will be playing in her tenth Europeans.

The ten B-Division women’s teams are: England, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain and Turkey.

The ten A-Division men’s teams are: Finland, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Scotland, Sweden and Switzerland.

  • Sweden, skipped by Niklas Edin, won this title last season, as well as going on to take Olympic silver and the world title – Edin is attempting to win his fifth successive European crown [pictured above, © WCF / Richard Gray].
  • Poland are making their nation’s first-ever appearance in the European A-Division.
  • Italy’s skip Joel Retornaz will be making his 11th European appearance.
  • The teams representing Finland, Germany and Russia will be making their European championships’ debuts at this event.

The 16 B-Division men’s teams are:

Group A: Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Hungary, Latvia, Slovakia, Spain and Turkey.
Group B: Austria, Belarus, Denmark, England, Israel, Lithuania, Slovenia and Wales.

Four nations qualified to compete in the B-Divisions due to performances at the C-Division championships, held in Taarnby, Denmark in April. These were the women’s winners Slovakia and runners-up Poland, and the men’s winners Denmark and runners-up Belarus. Slovenia women were also invited to the B-Division, despite missing out on qualification from the C-Division after Netherlands women did not re-enter the B-Division after 2017.

Round-robin play commences on Saturday 17 November and will continue until Thursday 22 November. The men’s semi-finals will take place in the evening of Thursday 22 November at 19:00, while the women’s semi-finals will be on the afternoon of Friday 23 November at 14:00. The bronze medals will be contested at 19:00 on Friday (23 November) evening, and the finals will be staged on Saturday 24 November – women at 10:00 and men at 15:00.

All times are Eastern European Time (+2 hours from Universal Coordinated Time).

From these Championships, seven men’s teams will qualify their Member Associations for the Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Curling Championship 2019, being held in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada from Saturday 30 March until Sunday 7 April.

Some six women’s teams will qualify for the World Women’s Curling Championship in Silkeborg, Denmark between Saturday 16 March and Sunday 24 March. Event hosts, Denmark are already assured of a place in the World Women’s Championship line-up.

In addition, for both women and men, there will be four places available in the inaugural World Qualification Event, which is being staged in Naseby, New Zealand, between Friday 18 January and Wednesday 23 January. The available European places at the World Qualification Event will go to the two highest ranked teams behind the World qualifiers in the A-Division and the winners and runners-up in the B-Division.

The championships will have extensive TV coverage across Europe and North America, including, for the first time television coverage from the B-Division.

Follow the championships via the World Curling Federation’s broadcast partners: Eurosport 1 and 2, Eurosport Player, Eurosport Asia Pacific, RTS, SRF and RSI (Switzerland), SVT (Sweden), Polsat (Poland), Viasat (Norway, Finland and Denmark), La Chaine Equipe (France), Match TV (Russia), ERR (Estonia), TVR (Romania), TSN (Canada), NBC’s Olympic Channel (United States).

Coverage will also be available live on the event website, the World Curling Federation’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube Channel (geo-blocking may apply in certain territories).

To engage with the World Curling Federation on social media in the build the Le Gruyère AOP European Curling Championships 2018 follow it on Twitter, Instagram (@WorldCurling) and Facebook (/WorldCurlingFederation) and use the hashtags when posting: #ECC2018 #curling