The 2013-14 season has been a busy one but it seems to have passed very quickly and now here we are in April ready for the final events of the season.
Happily, they are close to home and there are no pesky time differences! Sochi and Beijing in the same season…anyone else still catching up on sleep?
Dumfries, Scotland is currently hosting the 2014 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship and the 2014 World Senior Curling Championships and I think it’s fair to say that the town’s population has grown significantly thanks to the record number of teams taking part.
Of the 53 nations that make up the World Curling Federation, 34 have sent teams to this year’s World Mixed Doubles while there are 25 across the men’s and women’s events at the World Seniors – impressive numbers I’m sure you will agree.
‘Home’ nation interest is stronger than ever before as well with all four entering teams into the Mixed Doubles for the first time.
There are also six ‘home’ nation teams in the Seniors with a full complement in the men’s – excellent stuff.
All in all it’s set to be a busy week in Dumfries so here’s the first part of my guide to this end-of-season extravaganza.
World Mixed Doubles Championship
2014 sees the seventh edition of this Championship being held in Scotland for the first time.
Wednesday 23 was training day for all of the teams and play gets underway early on Thursday morning.
Round-robin play continues until the afternoon of Tuesday 29 with playoffs scheduled for later that evening with further playoffs and medal games on Wednesday 30.
The full schedule is here.
For those of you unfamiliar with Mixed Doubles curling I suggest you take a look at this page on the WCF website and watch the video at the bottom.
Oh and be sure to bookmark the official event website here.
This format of the game will be under real scrutiny in Dumfries as the World Curling Federation is proposing its inclusion in the Winter Olympic programme for Pyeongchang in 2018.
All games are scheduled to be eight ends and tied games will be decided by an extra end (or ends) – a minimum of six ends must be played in all games.
The 34 teams have been divided into four groups – let’s meet them.
Group A: Austria, Belarus, Denmark, England, Hungary*, Italy, Korea, Russia, Wales
Group B: Brazil, Canada, Estonia, Finland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Scotland, Slovenia, Sweden
Group C: Australia, Czech Republic, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland
Group D: China, France, Germany, Ireland, Norway, New Zealand, Spain, USA
Three nations are making their World Mixed Doubles debuts – Belarus, Kazakhstan and, of course, Brazil. More on them later.
Here’s who will be playing for the ‘home’ nations:
England – Angharad Ward and Bryan Zachary (Coach Rosaleen Boardman not pictured)
Angharad (18) is the youngest competitor in Dumfries.
Ireland – Louise Kerr and John Furey (Coach Peter Wilson not pictured)
Love the green laces John!
Scotland – Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat (Coach David Aitken not pictured)
Wales – Dawn Watson and Adrian Meikle (Coach Chris Wells not pictured)
With England and Wales in the same group we are all set for a grudge match on Friday evening!
Full team lineups are here.
Watch this space for an interview I did with the Slovenian team a few days ago.
‘Home’ nation involvement doesn’t just stop with the players, however, as England’s Glenda Barrowman is Deputy Chief Umpire while Scotland is well-represented in the officials with Jill Donald, Peter Allan and Calder Benzies working as Game Umpires.
Harold Forrester and Brian Yeats are Chief Timer and Deputy Chief Timer respectively and Chief Ice Technician Mark Callan has Scott Henderson and Chris Noble working with him as deputies.
I’ve been casting my eye over the other teams and here’s who else to look out for…
- Expat Scot Kenny Thomson is playing for New Zealand.
- Markku Uusipaavalniemi, playing for Finland, skipped his nation to Winter Olympic silver in 2006.
- Kim Tuck, playing with her husband Wayne for Canada, is also coaching Brazil in Dumfries.
And talking of Brazil…
Say hello to Aline Lima Gonçalves and Marcelo Cabral de Mello who are making curling history this week by becoming the first Brazilians to play in any World Curling Championship event.
The Brazilian Ice Sport Federation has been part of the WCF since 1998 but didn’t play a game until 2009 when Marcelo skipped a team in the Americas World Curling Championship Challenge in Bismarck, North Dakota, USA against Todd Birr’s American side – they lost 13-2, 13-2 and 11-5.
Undaunted, they tried again in 2010 but this time in Grafton, North Dakota with Marcelo playing third against Pete Fenson’s rink – they lost 10-4, 8-1 and 8-2.
Marcelo and Aline have spent a week training intensively in Vancouver, Canada in preparation for this event and I am sure we wish them all the very best for the competition in Dumfries. Boa sorte!
Where to Watch
The event is ticketed and you can go along and watch all the action live – details here.
Alternatively you can watch some games at home as the WCF’s YouTube channel will be streaming games throughout the week – full schedule here (click on Webcasting Schedule).
Scotland are being broadcast twice:
Fri. 25 – 1745 – v. Brazil
Sat. 26 – 2100 – v. Canada
Be sure to tune in to not only watch Bruce and Gina try and improve on their seventh-place finish in Canada in 2013 but also to see the Brazilians in action. Commentary is being provided by Sara Carlsson, Kenny Edwards, Logan Gray and Richard Harding.
Part two of my guide, featuring the World Seniors, will be online soon.
Photos are © WCF/Richard Gray 2014
Image is © WCF