Turkey (Oznur Polat) – Turkey has been slowly moving up the curling rankings in Europe and this could be the year they make the big jump. Back in 2012, Polat and Turkey were competing in Group C trying to just fight for a spot in Group B. When they defeated the Netherlands (a fellow Group B contender now), they advanced to Group B and finished 1 game out of a playoff spot. In 2013 and 2014, Turkey lost out on a tiebreaker to make the playoffs. This team has been consistent and competitive within Group B competition. Do not underestimate this team because they do not come from a traditional curling/winter sport hot spot.
Netherlands (Marianne Neeleman) – Can you tell my favorite color is orange? Seems to be a bit of a theme in the dark horse category this year with one nation taking the title as Dark Horse Nation! In 2014, Neeleman began her European Championship campaign sitting in Group C. After winning the group, Neeleman found herself promoted to Group B. This was a first for Netherlands. Back in 2012, Netherlands did not even have a curling team competing at the European Championships. Three years later, they are competing in Group B and could surprise a few teams/nations. Sure they will be competing against teams with more experience and who have been around Group B (and Group A) in the past but Neeleman has fought hard to make curling relevant in the small soccer-crazed nation of Netherlands. This would be a huge win for her and the Dutch to follow the footsteps of their male counterparts and qualify for Group A next year. #TeamOranje
Pool A Pool B Latvia
Denmark Latvia Czech Republic
Hungary Austria England
Wales England Netherlands
Turkey Israel Italy
Belgium Croatia Poland
Poland Estonia Austria
Slovenia Slovakia France
Lithuania Spain Slovakia
MEN’S EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP: Norway (Team Ulsrud) over Sweden (Team Edin)
MEN'S EUROPEAN BRONZE MEDAL: Switzerland (De Cruz) over Finland (Kauste)
WOMEN'S EUROPEAN BRONZE MEDAL: Switzerland (Paetz) over Denmark (Nielson)
MEN’S B DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP: Denmark (Team Stjerne) over Latvia (Team Gulbis)
The European Championships are always one of the best events to follow on the annual curling calendar #SeasonofChampions. The added bonus this year is the men's and women's champion will receive a berth in the season ending Champion's Cup. With the European teams struggling at the grand slam events on tour this season, minus Switzerland's Silvana Tirinzoni winning the Tour Challenge, the opportunity to guarantee your spot at this massive end of year event is huge.
Back on North American soil, the #TwineTime vs @NerdCurl challenge is heating up. NerdCurl won The National event to maintain a slim lead heading into the European Championships. The point structure will be different for this event mind you as points will be collected for correctly predicting Final 4 and final placement (hence the bronze medal predictions above). Have faith Canadian curling fans, #TwineTime can still win this competition....there is lots of curling still to come.
Following along with draw by draw results on CurlingZone or the official event website HERE. Best of luck to all the teams also competing in Manitoba and Nova Scotia. My apologies for not covering these two events this week but I think our European teams deserve the main focus given they are competing for a continental championship.
Enjoy rock heads and stoners....