With the season just a few months from completion, it is time for the world’s best junior curlers to battle it out at the World Junior Curling Championships.
The Ice Cube Curling Centre in Sochi, Russia, is hosting the event as a test for next year’s Olympic Winter Games – the World Wheelchair Championship was the first test event and now it’s time for the juniors. The official event website is here.
The competition got underway yesterday (Thursday) and the finals will be on Sunday 10 March. For viewing purposes and for keeping track of scores, Sochi is four hours ahead of GMT – this means the games are either very early morning, morning or afternoon for fans in the UK.
So who is competing over in Sochi?
Both the junior men’s and junior women’s events feature ten teams from across the world – all players must have been less than 21 years of age on 30 June 2012 to be eligible.
Junior men’s teams: Canada, China, Czech Republic, Italy, Norway, Russia, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, USA
Junior women’s teams: Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Japan, Norway, Russia, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, USA
For those who like their trivia, the Italian junior men’s team features the oldest and youngest players in the junior men’s draw – Andrea Pilzer (21) and Sebastiano Arman (16).
Similarly, the Danish team features the two extremes in the junior women’s draw – Stephanie Risdal Nielsen (21) and Julie Dall Høgh (13).
Two players will also get to celebrate their birthdays during the tournament – and once again they are both on the same team. Dongxu Jiang and Rongrui Zhang of the Chinese junior men’s team will be having their birthdays in Sochi this year.
Enough stats for now…
Who will be wearing Scotland colours in 2013?
Hannah Fleming and her team are looking to defend their title from 2012 in Östersund, Sweden. Jennifer Dodds is a new addition to the lineup this year and the team can already boast a Scottish Junior title and a Scottish Women’s final appearance this season – expect medals from these girls under the guidance of coach Debbie Knox.
Like Hannah Fleming, Kyle Smith welcomed a new player for this season with brother Cameron coming in at lead. Kyle picked up a bronze in 2012 and will be no doubt be hoping for greater things this time around along with coach David Ramsay.
Photos are © WCF / Alina Pavliuchik 2013
So where can you watch Team Scotland’s junior men and women in action?
The World Curling Federation’s YouTube page is featuring live games throughout the tournament and we will be able to see at least three Scotland games:
Friday 1 March – 1500 (UK) – Canada v. Scotland (Women)
Monday 4 March – 1500 (UK) – Russia v. Scotland (Men)
Wednesday 6 March – 1000 (UK) – Switzerland v. Scotland (Women)
The full viewing schedule is here. Coverage has been really good and best of all, it’s free.
How have Scotland been getting on so far?
In a word, perfectly! As I write, both of Scotland’s teams are undefeated after two days of play. Here are the current standings:
Junior Men (W-L)
2-0 Canada, Norway, Scotland
2-1 Italy, Sweden
0-2 China, Switzerland
0-3 Czech Republic
Junior Women (W-L)
2-0 Czech Republic, Denmark, Japan
0-2 Canada, Sweden, Switzerland
A great start from both teams and I am sure we all wish them the very best of luck over in Sochi. Keep checking back for updates and pictures throughout the tournament.