European Curling Championships ‘C’ Group

Sunday 5 October saw the start of play at the 2014 European Curling Championships ‘C’ Group in Zoetermeer in the Netherlands.

Seven women’s and ten men’s teams are in attendance all hoping to secure promotion to the European ‘B’ competition that takes place in Switzerland at the end of November.

The teams are playing a round-robin competition until Friday afternoon when the teams who are ranked first to fourth play a knockout round to decide the four nations (two men’s, two women’s) heading to Switzerland.

Women’s teams: Croatia, Ireland, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain

Men’s teams: Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Luxembourg, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia

You will see there is ‘home’ nation interest as both Irish teams find themselves in this season’s competition – here’s how they line up:

Men: James Russell (Fourth), Craig Whyte (Third), Alan Mitchell (Second and Skip), Arran Cameron (Lead), John Furey (Alternate), Martin Sutherland (Coach)

Women: Katie Kerr (Fourth), Margarita Sweeney Baird (Third and Skip), Hazel Gormley Leahy (Second), Clare McCormick (Lead), Ailsa Anderson (Alternate)

Did you know that everyone in the Irish women’s team except for Hazel Gormley Leahy is making their first appearance at an international tournament? Katie Kerr, meanwhile, has made the trip from the USA for this event – read more about her here and here.

I would like to wish both Irish teams the very best of luck in the Netherlands not least because in Craig Whyte they have a good friend and clubmate of mine!

I’ll also be keeping an eye on my Slovenian friends hoping they can get themselves promoted this year.

It is worth noting that ‘home’ nation interest also extends to the competition officials where we find Scotland’s Anne Malcolm as Chief Umpire, Ireland’s John Burns as a Game Umpire and Mark Callan from Scotland as Chief Ice Technician.

A special mention should go to the men’s team representing the Israel Curling Federation in Zoetermeer – Israel was a member of the WCF from 1999 to 2008 but rejoined the international curling community in 2013.

I have previously linked to this article about a recruitment drive that the ICF had in North America and it seems to have worked – see here.

If you follow the World Curling Tour at all then you may have noticed that a certain Team Freilich, listed as being based in Jerusalem, Israel, now appears on the WCT website – the very same team currently in the Netherlands.

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So from Israel to Ireland and a review of how the tournament has gone so far.

Ireland’s women have found it tough going with no wins and three losses after three days of play – they were defeated by Slovakia 10-1, Croatia 12-6 and Spain 8-6.

The men, meanwhile, have been enjoying more success than their female counterparts and are sitting on four wins and one loss going into Wednesday’s draw – they have beaten Belarus 12-8, Serbia 9-7, Israel 6-4 and Iceland 9-4 while their only defeat was against Slovenia 8-3.

For all the latest scores, news, pictures and information I suggest you visit the comprehensive event website here.

Zoetermeer is one hour ahead of the UK if you are planning to follow games as they happen.

It wouldn’t be an international event post without me mentioning some kind of statistic, interesting scoreline or piece of trivia so spare a thought for the Dutch women’s team who, on home ice, scored a five against Slovenia but still lost 10-7.

Images are © WCF, ICF and ICA