Flims, Switzerland – The international curling focus will move on from the Olympic Winter Games and turn to Switzerland when the 2014 World Junior Curling Championships get underway in Flims on Wednesday 26 February.
Altogether ten women’s and ten men’s teams will compete in the Waldhaus Arena this year, which was also the venue the last time the World Junior Curling Championships took place in Switzerland, in 2010.
To be eligible to play in the World Junior Curling Championships, a player must be less than 21 years of age by the end of the 30th day of June of the year immediately preceding the year in which the championship is to take place.
The ten women’s teams taking part are representing Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy, Korea, defending champions Russia, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA.
Of these, teams with at least some members returning from last year’s Championship in Sochi, Russia, include the USA, whose skip Cory Christensen is making her third appearance in the World Junior Curling Championships, while second player Anna Bauman is making her second appearance.
This will also be a third World Junior Championship campaign for almost the entire Czech Republic team. Under skip Zuzana Hájková they finished fourth last year, and won silver medals in 2012.
For Denmark, the Clemmensen sisters – Isabella and Charlotte, as well as Julie Dall Hoegh, make a return appearance, hoping to improve on their sixth place in 2013.
Italy return to the women’s line-up this year, having qualified by winning the European Junior Curling Challenge in Lohja, Finland in January.
Their team is skipped by Veronica Zappone, and they have already had a busy international season, having taken part in Le Gruyere European Championships 2013 in Stavanger, Norway, in November where they finished 10th, and then in the WCF Olympic Qualification Event in Fuessen, Germany in December where they finished seventh.
The Italian team also includes one of ten 2012 Youth Olympians participating in these Championships. Arianna Losano was part of the mixed Italian team that took the silver medals at the event which was held in Innsbruck, Austria.
Korea is making its first-ever appearance at this level. The Korean team, skipped by Kyeong-Ae Kim, won the women’s competition of January’s Pacific-Asia Junior Curling Championships in Harbin, China to gain the right to play at this event. She also won the bronze medal in the 2012 Pacific-Asia Curling Championships in Naseby, New Zealand.
Russia won the women’s title for the first time last year in Sochi, with skip Alina Kovaleva leading her team to the gold medal. She returns this year again both as skip and playing in third position.
The team from Canada, skipped by Kelsey Rocque; Scotland, skipped by Gina Aitken; Sweden, skipped by Isabella Wranå; and hosts Switzerland, skipped by Corina Mani, are all newcomers at this level.
Notably, Switzerland women include Elena Stern, as alternate, a gold medal winner in the mixed team event in the 2012 Youth Olympic Winter Games.
The ten men’s teams involved this year are: Austria, Canada, China, Italy, Norway, Russia, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA.
Scotland won gold last year, and the entire team, skipped by Kyle Smith, return to defend their title.
For Austria, skipped by Sebastian Wunderer, this is a first-ever appearance at this level thanks to their win in the men’s division of the European Junior Curling Challenge in January.
The Canadian team are newcomers at this level but are assisted by alternate Matt Dunstone, who skipped last year’s Canadian team to a bronze medal finish.
China are led by Zhilin Shao, who skipped a different team to a seventh-place finish in the 2013 Championship.
Amos Mosaner skips an Italian team that includes two other members of the team that finished sixth last year. Mosaner was another member of the mixed Italian team that won the silver medals in the 2012 Youth Olympic Games.
The Norwegian team, skipped by Eirik Mjøen, return intact from last year, and will be looking to improve on their fifth-place finish. Third Martin Sesaker already has silverware to his name having won silver at the Youth Olympic Games in 2012 in the Mixed Doubles event with partner Eunbi Kim from Korea.
Russia won silver medals in 2013’s Championship and the team that achieved that result return, but without skip Evgeny Arkhipov who graduated to the Russian Olympic team that competed in the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Instead, Sergey Glukhov moves from third to skip this year.
Sweden have a new line up with Fredrik Nyman as skip. He was alternate in last year’s event where Sweden finished in fourth place.
There is a new team from Switzerland also, skipped by Yannick Schwaller, who is the son of Christof Schwaller, European and World silver medallist in 2001. Alternate, Romano Meier, is another member if the mixed Swiss team who won the gold medals in the 2012 Youth Olympic Games.
The USA team are newcomers at this level, skipped by Jake Vukich from Seattle.
Round-robin play commences on Wednesday 26 February and continues until Sunday March 2. Thereafter tie-breakers will be held if needed to establish the top four teams.
This will be followed by curling’s Page Play-off games in which the top two ranked teams face each other, with the winner of that game going direct to the final, and the loser being given a second chance by playing a semi-final against the winner of the Play-off between the team ranked third and fourth.
The winner of that sole semi-final goes onto the final to play for gold and silver, and the loser faces the Page 3/4 loser for bronze.
These gold and bronze medal finals, for both men and women, take place on Wednesday 5 March.