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Thursday, 20 November 2014

The Euro's Are Coming....The Euro's Are Coming
Time to crown a Continental Champion

Well most of North American curling fans have their attention dialed to the action on the ice in the Soo, our European curling friends will be enjoying the beautiful backdrop of Champery, Switzerland for the 2014 European Curling Championships.  The top European men's and women's teams will be looking to not only become European Champions but also qualify for the 2015 World Curling Championship.

A few points of interest heading into this event:

  • The European Curling Federation is divided into three pools.  The A Pool is the championship group, where the winners become European champions.  Also, only teams competing in the A pool can qualify for the upcoming world championship
  • The 2 bottom finishers from the A pool are regulated into the B pool the following year, while the top 2 teams from B are promoted (similar to how many European football leagues operate).  This is the same for teams moving from C to B (and vice versa)
  • The defending men's champions are Team Sven Michel (Switzerland) and Team Margaretha Sigfridsson (Sweden).  Team Michel is back to try and defend their title while Team Sigfidsson was not selected as the Sweden representative
  • Worth noting, just because a team wins the Europeans and/or qualifies for the World Championship, does not mean that will be the team representing the country at the World Championship.  This event serves as a qualifier for the country, but not necessarily the team.  National federations, in some countries, choose which teams to send to the both competitions.  Some countries hold national championships to determine their designated teams (similar to Canada)
  • For 2014, Germany and Italy were promoted to the A pool while France and Finland were relegated to Pool B for the men.  Norway and Italy were regulated for the women while Finland and Estonia (a first for the small nation) were promoted
  • Overall, Scotland has won the most men's European championships with 12 (last being 2008) and Sweden has won the most women's European championships with 19 (last being 2013)
  • Pool A and Pool B both take place at the same time.  The top 8 nations, men and women, from Pool A (Championship Round) will qualify for the World Championship
MEN - Championship Pool

The Favorites

Team Norway Thomas Ulsrud (5 Order of Merit/20 Year to Date) - Team Fancy Pants is hard to bet against.  They are the defending world champions after all.  They have had a relatively quiet year on the tour this year though.  We have only seen them in 3 events but they have a victory in Baden and qualified in Basel.  It appears these boys curl well when in Switzerland...and where does the European Championships happen to take place this year?  Yup, chocolate for everyone!

Watch Out For

Team Sweden Niklas Edin (9/9) - Team Edin started the season strong, qualifying in 4 of their first 5 events.  However, they have failed to qualify in their past 3 events.  However, Edin is a European Champion (2012) and has the experience to lead this team to another title.  Remember as well, members of this new team finished runner-up to Team Ulsrud at the World Championship last year.

Team Switzerland Sven Michel (12/12) - Never count out the defending champions.  Many were surprised last year when Sven and his Swiss team came through and won this championship.  They will not be considered under the radar this year though.  As well, they are the hometown team.  Even if they have a tough game, that hometown crowd can be a pick me up to get you through.

Dark Horse

Team Scotland David Edwards (62/69) - Oh you haven't heard of Team Edwards before?  Don't worry, many curling fans have not.  But you will after this event.  This team came out and surprised David Murdoch and his Olympic Silver-winning team as well as Tom Brewster's team at the Scottish Championships a few weeks ago to claim their spot at the Europeans.  Don't let the rankings fool you, this is a good team.  They are more than capable of pulling off some "upsets" and finding new fans along the way.

Projected Final Round Robin Standings (Q=playoffs, q=qualified for worlds, R=regulated)

1.  Sweden (Edin) Q
2.  Norway (Ulsrud) Q
3.  Switzerland (Michel) Q
4.  Denmark (Sterjne) Q
5.  Scotland (Edwards) q
6.  Czech Republic (Snitil) q
7.  Russia (Arkhipov) q
8.  Germany (Baumann) q
9.  Latvia (Gulbis) R
10.  Italy (Mosaner) R

Men's Championship - Team Sweden (Edin) over Team Norway (Ulsrud)

Projected Pool B Promoted Nations:  Finland (Kauste) and Hungary (Hall)


 The Favorites

Team Switzerland Binia Feltscher (9/10) - The defending women's world champions and home town team....what's not to like about putting the Favorite label on this team?  They won the event in Basel earlier this year and went undefeated in the round robin at the Masters a few weeks ago.  Sure they lost in the QF of the event, but they sure looked strong throughout the entire event.  Do not be surprised to see these ladies become the Swiss darlings on home ice and add another gold medal to their hardware collection.

Watch Our For

Team Scotland Eve Muirhead (3/8) - It has been a bit of an up and down year for the Scottish champs.  One event they look like the world champion contenders we expect, the next they look like they are struggling.  However, they enter this event fresh off a tour victory in Saskatoon a few weeks ago, where they went undefeated en route to the title.  Eve has a medal at the last 4 European Championships, winning Gold in 2011 and a silver last year.  Remember it was only 2 years ago when Eve was also a world champion.  This team comes to play in the big international events.

Dark Horse

Team Germany Andrea Schopp (63/80) - Ok so she probably is not a threat to win this championship with her best curling days behind her but never count out a two-time World Champion and seven-time European Champion.  They are also coming off a 4th place finish at their recent tour event in Switzerland, a good sign heading into Euro's.  Will they be playing for a medal at the end of the event, probably not.  Will they qualify Germany for the World Championship and give the top teams a run for the money all week, count on it. 

Projected Final Round Robin Standings (Q=playoffs, q=qualified for worlds, R=regulated)

1.  Switzerland (Feltscher)  Q
2.  Scotland (Muirhead)  Q
3.  Russia (Sidorova)  Q
4.  Denmark (Nielsen)  Q
5.  Sweden (Hasselborg)  q
6.  Germany (Schopp)  q
7.  Latvia (Stasa-Sarsune)  q
8.  Czech Republic (Klimova)  q
9.  Finland (Puustinen) R
10.  Estonia (Molder)  R

Women's Championship -  Team Switzerland (Feltscher) over Team Scotland (Muirhead)

Projected Pool B Promoted Nations:  England (Fowler) and Austria (Toth)

Rock on Europe!!