Who Am I?

My photo

I like sports....lots of sports...all sports!  Follow my blog as I talk about sports....if you like sports of course

Friday, 16 November 2018

#ECC2018 Preview

#BetweenTheSheets: Estonia Becomes Lord Of The Rings
Tallinn to deliver as debut host for the 2018 European Curling Championships



"Tere tulemast Eestisse"

Oh you don't speak Estonian? My bad.

"Welcome to Estonia"

Estonia is set to become the Lord of the Rings in hosting the European Curling Championships, a first for the capital city of Tallinn.

But Tallinn is not new to hosting large curling events either. DYK the Tondiraba Ice Hall also hosted the 2015 World Junior Curling Championships? The Ice Hall has three sheets of dedicated curling ice within the complex, also consisting of two ice hockey rinks. These two rinks are perfect to play host to the European A and B-division competition over the next week.

Unfamiliar with Estonian curling you say? Well of course you are and the association has only been around since 2002 and only hosted their first national championship in 2004. Another random fact you say? How about the first curling sheets in the country were actually located in a former Soviet missile factory?! Puts a new perspective on the #GunnerRunback idea this blog uses on a weekly basis right?

From a championships historic viewpoint, Estonia will become just the 12th different nation to serve as host in the now 44-year history of the event. A pretty elite honour when you think about how many nations comprise Europe and how many member associations actually have teams they send to the Europeans, whether it be A, B or C-division on an annual basis.

2018 will also mark the first time a debut nation has hosted the event since Russia made their hosting debut in Moscow in 2011. Other one-time hosts include: Bulgaria (2004) and Finland (2001). Recent history on host selection alone certainly supports the #growthesport movement within Europe and the interest of the World Curling Federation and European member associations to further develop the sport in more nations.

In the previous 43 years of this event, only 6 men's nations and 7 women's nations have ever slide down the ice and onto the top of the podium. For the women, Sweden leads the way with an overwhelming 19 gold medals, including winning 6 in a row from 2000-2005 (Elisabet Gustafson: 2000, Anette Norberg: 2001-2005). Norberg's 5 straight wins is still the longest streak for the men and women; however, fellow Swede Niklas Edin will be looking to tie the mark this year after winning four straight from 2014-2017.

Speaking of Edin, his recent gold medal rush has propelled Sweden up the men's overall standings with 11 total golds won. They now trail overall leader Scotland by one gold. Could Edin tie the record for Sweden and the longevity record for himself in one single event? No pressure #KingNiklas!

Germany sits second on total golds won for the women with 8 while Switzerland sits third on the women's (6) and men's (8) rankings.

Collectively Sweden has appeared in more Euro finals than any other nation. The women have won 11 silver medals, including the past two years from Team Hasselborg. Their 11 silver medal wins tie them with Scotland for the most, two up on third place Switzerland with 9. There have been 9 different nations to collect a silver medal at the European Championships, including surprise runs from Denmark, Norway, Italy and even France (back in 1976 that is).

For the men, Sweden leads the haul with 13 silver, one better than Norway's 12. Scotland is third on the list with 7. Only 6 nations have collected silver medals, the same amount of nations who have collected gold on the men's side. Weird coincidence? Sweden, Scotland, Norway, Germany and Switzerland are the threats you would expect. The outliers? Finland winning 1 gold (2000) and Denmark winning 5 silver (most recent 2010).

On the bronze side of the podium, Switzerland leads the way for the women with 12 medals followed by Denmark with 8 and Norway/Scotland each with 7. Here we see a few more #TeamUpset contenders with 10 different nations collecting at least one bronze medal, capped by Italy's surprise run last year. Other one-off winners include England, Finland and Russia.

For the men, Switzerland reigns supreme once more albeit tied with Norway at the top with 11 total. Scotland is next with 7 with Sweden/Denmark next with 5. Similar to the women we see a few more #TeamUpset results in the bronze medal slot on the men's side, including Czech Republic (2012) and Italy (1979).

Could we see a new #TeamUpset nation emerge in Estonia and land their nation on the podium for perhaps the first time? Looking at you Czech Republic women. And you as well Netherlands men. We want to see a few more first-time podium finishers. Whether it happens in Tallinn or not is yet to be seen.

With the European Championships having both an A and B-division competing this upcoming week we have A LOT to preview. Time to throw a few rocks at the house in Tallinn and see if any can find the pin.

#TourLifePredictions


European Curling Championships

Tallinn, Estonia

2017 Champions: Sweden (men), Scotland (women)

A-Division Format: 10-team RR with 4 qualifiers. Bottom 2 relegated to 2019 B-division

B-Division Format:

Men - 16-team RR with 2 pools of 8 with 6 qualifiers. Pool winners qualify for SF with SF winners earning promotion to 2019 A-division. Bottom two teams in each pool face relegation playoff (see below)


Women - 10-team RR with 4 qualifiers. 1 vs 4 and 2 vs 3 SF with winners earning promotion to 2019 A-division. Bottom two teams relegation to 2019 C-division.

MEN

A-Division


#Favourite

Sweden (Team Edin) - No surprise the #SwedishVikings are the favourites heading into Tallinn. The European Championships truly have been where #KingNiklas earned his nickname and will try to add to the history books in search of his 5th consecutive title at this event and  6th in the past 7 years. Team Edin has been a bit hot and cold this season (by their standards). They are a modest 26-14 on the season and while they have some high's (winning Basel, finals in Baden, SF at The Masters) they also have uncharacteristic low's (missing playoffs at Elite 10, Tour Challenge). On paper there are very few teams in this field who can compete with the defending champions when they are on their game and have a positive 4-2 record against the field this year. The question is which Team Edin will we see in Tallinn? The one who looked great during the Swiss stretch of the #wct season or the one who struggled last week in Thunder Bay at the Tour Challenge?

#WatchOutFor

Switzerland (Team De Cruz) - If any team is poised to knock off the champs it looks to be this team. The Swiss boys are sporting an impressive 33-11 record on the season, won back-to-back titles in Basel and Champery and recently had a SF showing in Thunder Bay. They open the championships against the favourites, owning a 1-1 record against them thus far this season. They also own an 8-3 record against the field this season, showing they are a threat for the top of the podium. No team comes to Tallinn on more of a hot streak than Team De Cruz....now if only they can get over the SF hurdle that seems to haunt them at major events. Worth noting though, the only nation to win a Euro title during Edin's domination? Switzerland, skipped by Sven Michel who throws third stones for Team De Cruz.

#TeamUpset

Finland (Team Maakelaa) - You may not be familiar with Willie Maakelaa but you really should be. His curling resume is stronger than most names you probably do know. Did you know Maakelaa is an Olympic silver medal winner (2006)? Did you also know he holds the distinction of being on the only Finnish men's team to win European gold (2000)? This year he will be making his 12th Euro appearance, coming out of retirement to compete with his new team. This team has quietly been competing at some of the #Tour250 events in Europe during the season and while these events have not gained huge coverage (although #TwineTime has covered them, just saying) this team has put together some solid results. They own a 13-5 record on the season after competing in 3 events. They have qualified each time including a championship win in Latvia, a finals appearance in Estonia (at the same #ECC2018 venue) and a QF showing at their last tune-up event in the Czech Republic. While probably not a threat for the title, this team poses a huge threat to those teams in the middle of the pack looking to clinch world championship spots in Lethbridge next year and avoid relegation. Keep your eyes on this team. We saw last season with the women's draw what a flying under the radar team can do when nobody is watching.

#TheField

Germany (Team Muskatewitz) - Many may not be familiar with the skipper's name when this team takes the ice but do not underestimate the experience factor of the team in front of him. This team is, for the most part, the Team Baumman members we have seen at past European and World Championships. Last season this (mostly) team had a strong run up the standings with a 5th place finish and a 5-4 record. #TwineTimeFam member Ryan Sherrard is back in the house at vice and his international experience should help counter the inexperience of skip Marc Muskatewitz. If Sherrard curls anything close to his 5-star level of tour guide, Germany could be right in the playoff picture by the end of the week. The team, with Baumann, has played 4 events this season (all in Switzerland) and failed to qualify in 3 events. The one they did qualify? Their most recent event in Bern so at least they enter with some confidence.

Italy (Team Retornaz) - Remember when Italy was never considered a curling nation? We have certainly come a long way since 2006 folks. Joel Retornaz has elevated Italian curling into a regular fixture in the European A-division as well as at the world championships. This should be an interesting team to watch this week. During the #wct season regular vice Amos Mosaner has been curling with his new team...and skipping! In fact, he has been quite successful. He is 10-4 this season as a skip and recently picked up a #wct title in Bern.  As for Team Italy skip Retornaz, he is a modest 10-6 this season in 3 events, reaching the QF in his last two events in Champery and Bern. Lets see how these two come together representing Italy once again.

Netherlands (Team van Dorp) - Could this finally be the year the Dutch make their push up the standings? We have seen this team really grow on the ice right in front of us at recent European and World Championships. When Netherlands found promotion into the European A-division many people were unsure just how long the promotion would last. Well here we are and this team is now considered a regular fixture among Europe's top nations and has become a huge fan favourite at world championships. #OranjePower is growing folks...as fast as Team van Dorp's game play and results. They are going all in this season, having curled in 8 events already this year and owning a 25-20 record. Those events have taken them to Switzerland and Ontario three times plus Manitoba and Estonia once. They recently competed in Thunder Bay where they reached the Tour Challenge Tier II QF after surviving a TB. If they can fight off some jet lag, they arrive in Tallinn with some positive momentum and a lot of ice under those sliders.

Norway (Team Walstad) - No Ulsrud, No Problem!? Walstad is slowly transitioning from the future of Norway curling to the present. He has represented Norway at the past two world championships, reached a #gsoc final last season and now will hit the ice for his first European experience. You could wonder if nerves may come into play competing in your first Euro but given the two world championship appearances in 2017 and 2018, one has to doubt this will be a factor. If anything drive and determination could make Walstad a bit of a dark horse podium push here, wanting to excel in his first Euro and knowing he has an Ulsrud Euro legacy to follow. They are 24-15 on the season, qualifying in 5 of 6 events. Don't forget they also reached the inaugural final of the Curling World Cup back in September.

Poland (Team Dzikowski) - Welcome to A-division Poland. This will be your debut hanging with the big boys. Good luck! I must admit this is a bit of a surprise with Bartosz Dzikowski flying the Polish flag here when Boris Jasiecki was the skip leading the nation into the top flight this season. Dzikowski has only stepped on the ice once this season on the #wct circuit, recently competing in Prague and finishing 1-3. Meanwhile Jasiecki has competed in two tour events, reaching the final both times and collecting a championship win in Latvia. Great experience for Team Dzikowski, don't get me wrong. And a great #growthesport moment for Polish curling. But staying in A-division for 2019 is going to be tough.

Russia (Team Vaskov) - There has been some mention above of teams who recently competed in Prague. Well add the champions of the Prague Classic to the list on competing teams in Tallinn folks. Russia's Mikhail Vaskov made his season debut at the inaugural event and went 5-2 en route to claiming the title. Many may not be familiar with Vaskov but he is a past Euro junior champ (2015) and has been going back and forth with different teammates over the past few seasons. He will be making his Euro debut and what a field to really put your slider on the men's ice for the first time. The tour W in Prague was nice but this is a much, much, much stronger field. Anything can happen of course, especially when your opposition knows little to nothing about you. But avoiding relegation would be a huge win for this team this week.

Scotland (Team Mouat) - We all know the story on Bruce and his team from last season. The "mou-ed" down the competition collecting their first #gsoc title and coming home with a bronze medal at their first world championship. Enter the sophomore season and trying to avoid the sophomore slump. It has been a mixed bag of rocks this season for young Team Mouat. A modest 19-15 record overall sees them qualify in 4 of 6 events, including their most recent time on the ice being a SF showing at The Masters. They seemed to have erased the tough go from the beginning of the season though, qualifying in their past 3 events and now looking like a serious threat for the podium here. Their talent is arguably a few slides ahead of some of their competition so it is not a question of whether they make the playoffs but rather which medal do they go home with, if any?!


Projected Standings:  1. Switzerland  2. Sweden  3. Scotland  4. Norway  5. Netherlands  6. Italy  7. Germany  8. Finland  9. Russia  10. Poland

Qualifiers: Switzerland, Sweden, Scotland, Norway

Relegation: Russia, Poland


#ECC2018 Men's Bronze: Scotland (Mouat) def. Norway (Walstad)

#ECC2018 Men's Gold: Switzerland (De Cruz) def. Sweden (Edin)


B-Division


#Favourite

Czech Republic (Team Sik) - Experience alone is an advantage for David Sik this week as he has Euro and World experience and should be considered a strong favourite to earn promotion for the Czech Republic. It has been a strong European #wct season for the boys based out of Prague. They own a 9-8 record overall from 3 events but they have reached the QF in their two tune-up events leading into Tallinn. They also have played a few teams joining them in Estonia this week, going 2-2 overall with victories over Germany and Hungary but losses to Russia and Spain. Not bad to say you are 1-1 against A-division and B-division. This will not be an easy RR though with many trap slides along the ice, notable Spain, Estonia and Latvia. But if they can navigate the ice and the draw they should be in the running for a playoff spot by the end of the week and have a strong shot at promotion. And Canadian curling fans, you may recognize a familiar name during those timeout calls this week. Team Sik has requested the coaching services of Shannon Kleibrink this week. Her experience in big events (*cough* 2006 Olympics *cough*) could be the ultimate game changer for this team.

#WatchOutFor

Spain (Team Vez) - Spain: 2019 European A-division contenders. You heard it here first rock heads! Don't laugh off this prediction either. Sergio Vez is having one of the best breakout seasons an international curler could ask for. He won a silver medal at the World Mixed Curling Championships, a first podium result for the nation. Not to mention this team has competed in two #wct events this season, reaching the QF at their opening in Basel by reeling off 4 straight wins to qualify C-side before having to default their QF match vs. Edin due to flight/work commitments back home. What a weird win/loss story right there. Vez is curling with confidence right now and in a wide open B-division that is very dangerous. The major downside is the pool he was drawn in. He is in Pool A, arguably the more experienced of the two pools and will have to face Czech's Team Sik, Latvia's Team Gulbis, Turkey's Team Karagoz and host nation Estonia's Team Lill (coached by two-time Euro and one-time world champ Kristian Lindstrom by the way). But you know me, I love a #growthesport moment!

#TeamUpset


Belarus (Team Shalamitski) - Can a team go from C-division to A-division in one calendar year? Well if you ask Belarussian skipper Ilya Shalamitski he might say "Why not?" And honestly why not indeed? Shalamitski already made history earlier this season when he led his team to the first #wct title ever for Belarus, picking up the W at the Tallinn Men's International Challenger. Yup, he already has competed in Tallinn this season and walked away with a W so good memories and positive vibes are already on his side. He went 6-1 at the event, including a SF W over A-division competitor Netherlands' Team van Dorp and a RR W over fellow B-division competitors Latvia's Team Gulbis and Denmarks's Team Poulson (the other nation to qualify out of C-division last April). His only loss on the season? To A-division competitor Finland's Team Maakelaa. The draw gods are on his side giving his a spot in Pool B, the less experienced grouping of the two meaning a spot in the playoffs is well within reason. Do not sleep on this underdog.


Projected Standings:

Pool A -  1. Czech Republic  2. Latvia  3. Spain  4. Estonia  5. Turkey  6. Hungary  7. France  8. Slovakia

Pool B -  1. Austria  2. Belarus  3. Wales 4. England  5. Denmark  6. Lithuania  7. Israel  8. Slovenia


Promotion Qualifiers: Czech Republic, Austria, Latvia, Belarus, Spain, England

Relegation Qualifiers: France, Israel, Slovakia, Slovenia

#ECC2019 Promotion: Austria, Spain

#ECC2019 Relegation: Israel, Slovenia


WOMEN

A-Division

#Favourite


Sweden (Team Hasselborg) - No surprise here right? The Olympic champs are not just on fire since their Olympic gold medal win but they are melting the ice away this season. 24-4 record this season. 4 events played, 4 championship finals, 3 #wct title (including two #gsoc titles in the Elite 10 and The Masters). Their only real blemish to riding a perfect season is the Curling World Cup leg one final loss to Team Homan, nothing to hold your head about that's for sure. The Olympic win really seemed to ignite something special in this team and they have a taste for gold now. Having played in the past two Euro finals and coming up just short (literally), could this finally be the season where Hasselborg claims a title she has wanted for so long and exorcise the Euro demon on her back? The way they are playing I would not want to bet against them. Oh you want to make them even more intimidating? Look who will be their coach this week....Wayne Middaugh!

#WatchOutFor

Russia (Team Kovaleva) - If you read this blog, especially the weekly #PowerRankings, you are not surprised to see Team Kovaleva listed as the team to #WatchOutFor this week. #TwineTime become a huge fan of this Russian team as the season progressed and they just could shock the world for Russia once again and pull out a victory here, similar to Victoria Moiseeva's victory in 2016. Leading into this season Kovaleva spent most of her best women's moments as an alternate for Anna Sidorova. She turned to skip this season and appears ready to never look back. This team is 29-7 on the season. They have qualified in all 5 events played. They have reached the final in 4 of those 5 events. They have 2 #wct titles to show for it (Edmonton, China). Up until their championship final loss in Switzerland at their final tune-up event (loss to Kubeskova), the team was on a 15-match winning streak. They are 20-4 since the start of October. They are also 4-1 against their competition this season. Yup, watch out indeed!

#TeamUpset

Finland (Team Kauste) -  Team Finn For The Win? Ok maybe not for the Euro title but this is the second straight #TeamUpset nomination for the nation in this preview. Kauste is back in the A-division folks after a slightly surprising result in last year's B-division. Throughout the RR her team struggled, barely reaching the playoffs with a 5-4 record, before shocking Norway's Skaslien in the SF and punching her ticket to the elite group once again. Remember, Kauste is also a bronze medal winner here (2015) so do not overlook her resume and potential to surprise a few teams. The team is 9-12 on the season thus far qualifying in 2 of 4 events. However, both of those events ended up being championship final appearances with the team hoisting the title here in Tallinn and falling just short in Latvia at their final tune-up event.

#TheField

Czech Republic (Team Kubeskova) - Is it just me or have we all been waiting for that true break out moment for Anna Kubeskova on the international scene for a few years now? When she finished 4th at the 2016 Europeans most thought this was going to be the flip of the ignite switch to make this team a real threat on the world championship stage. Instead the flame fizzled out as fast as it was lit. Last season was a complete debacle at Euro's where the team went 3-6 and finished in 7th place. What is happening? This really is a good team and Kubeskova herself has the makings of a strong skip able to lead her team to victory. But the puzzle pieces just have not come together yet. This could be the year though. They are a modest 8-7 on the season through 3 events but have qualified for the playoffs each time. In their final tune-up event in Switzerland they won the title, meaning momentum and confidence should be riding high on the place over to Estonia. Anna's father, curler Karel Kubeskova, will be coaching the team as well hoping to add his Euro experience to the collective and finally get this team back in the playoff conversation.

Denmark (Team Dupont) - Are the best days of Dupont sister curling behind them or can they turn back the clock and rediscover the magic on ice? This year's Euro event could be the landing point on which side of the argument the needle falls. Dupont is a former Euro silver medal winner (2002) and world silver medal winner (2007). She is an Olympian as well, recently competing again on the Olympic stage in PyeongChang. But last season the team struggled here once again, ending in 8th place with a 2-7 record and barely qualifying for the world championships by surviving the World Challenge best-of-3 against Finland's Team Kauste. We have only seen them compete once on tour this season at the China Open where they finished 3-4 and missed the playoffs. However, along the way they did defeat defending world champion Canada's Jennifer Jones...after losing of course to fellow A-division competitors Team Kovaleva and Team Jentsch. Time is ticking for Dupont....

Germany (Team Jentsch) - Speaking of waiting for the breakthrough, lets talk about Germany's Daniela Jentsch. She has been to the past four world and European championships but has finished middle to bottom of the pack each time. She is still looking for that signature breakout moment in the big competitions. The team has played 5 #wct events, owns a sub-.500 record of 10-14 and have only qualified in one event played. On the bright side, the one event played happened to be their tune-up event in Switzerland where they reached the SF and ended up finishing 4th. The big question for this team is always confidence. When they are happy, having fun and confident, they can compete with anyone opposing them. But when they get down, in the game or on themselves, it is often a tough fight to make the game go 8 ends. If they can ride the wave of momentum and confidence from Switzerland over to Estonia perhaps this is the year the make a strong push for the playoffs. They will certainly want to better their 3-6 record from last year.

Italy (Team Zappone) - Last year Italy shocked the world when they not only reached the playoffs at the European Championships but took home a bronze medal. Replicating that feat is going to be a very tall order this time around however as Diana Gaspari is no longer skipping the national team. The team is now led by Veronica Zappone, who was the vice to Gaspari last year. The 25-year old has played vice almost her entire career so the move to skip could be a tough one against this caliber of field. Zappone is 3-10 on the season, failing to qualify in each of the 3 events entered. In their final tune-up event in Switzerland they went 0-5, including losses to fellow A-division competitors Kubeskova and Jentsch. This team will need to turn the tides quick and try to rekindle the magic on ice from last year....to at least avoid going from podium to relegation.

Latvia (Team Stasa-Sarsline) - Guess who's back? Back again? Latvia's back. Tell a friend. It seems we play this evil game with Latvia doesn't it? Promotion --> Relegation --> Promotion --> Relegation --> Promotion....and so on and so on. Which way will the story go this time around? Iveta Stasa-Sarsline led her team back to the A-division last season with a B-division SF win over Estonia. One can guess they may not have a ton of Estonia fans in the stands this week. Good thing Latvia is a short plane ride over for their own fans. This will be the 42-year old skips 10th European championship but, in that time, she has only qualified for the world championships twice (2010, 2013). History dictates even number years in A lead to odd number years in B, for the most part. The Latvians are 4-7 on the year having qualified (QF) in one of their three events played. This field is very tough and a huge W would be escaping relegation this week for Team Stasa-Sarsline.

Scotland (Team Muirhead) - Welcome back the defending champions from Scotland, Team Eve Muirhead! The now two-time European champ will be making her 11th Euro appearance....at the age of 28. Feel old yet? Yup I do! Muirhead is always considered a medal threat, especially in international competitions. She is a three-time Olympian (winning bronze in 2014) and a 8-time world championship participant (winning gold in 2013). This has been an up and down season for the new-look team though as skipper Eve missed the start of the season recovering from surgery and the new line-up has had to adjust accordingly with Jennifer Dodds throwing third stones now. They are 11-12 on the season, weird to see them sub-.500 heading into the Euro's right? They have reached the playoffs in 2 of the 4 events played; however, went a disappointing 1-3 at their last event The Masters. Muirhead gets fired up for Europeans though so never discount her from being a medal threat. Toss in Glenn Howard as their skip and this team is going to be considered one of the pre-event playoff contenders.

Switzerland (Team Tirinzoni) - What an interesting 2018 it has been for Silvana Tirinzoni. She qualifies for her first Olympic games. Then her team disbands. She joins forces with former Swiss rival and former world champion Alina Paetz looking to form a #SuperSwissTeam. The results seem to favour the hashtag. They are 25-16 on the season, qualifying in 6 of the 7 events entered. They have two championship final appearances, including the #gsoc Elite 10, and 3 SF results. Pretty solid season I would say. For Tirinzoni this will only be her 3rd Euro though with last year being her first as skip (2007 she was alternate for Mirjam Ott). In her Euro skipping debut she went 7-4 in the RR, reached the playoffs and then went 0-2 to wound up in 4th place. For a "debut" many would say this is quite amazing. But Tirinzoni is not a "debut" skip. She is an experienced skip so the hunger and drive to better the result of a year ago should be strong. Add in Paetz, a Euro silver medal winner in 2013, and a run to the playoffs is expected. We should almost pencil them in now for 7 or 8 wins, 2nd or 3rd in the RR and one heck of a great SF against whomever they play (Russia perhaps?!?!).


Projected Standings:  1. Sweden  2. Russia  3. Switzerland  4. Scotland  5. Czech Republic  6. Germany  7. Denmark  8. Finland  9. Italy  10. Latvia

Qualifiers: Sweden, Russia, Switzerland, Scotland

Relegation: Italy, Latvia


#ECC2018 Women's Bronze: Scotland (Team Muirhead) def. Switzerland (Team Tirinzoni)

#ECC2018 Women's Gold: Sweden (Team Hasselborg) def. Russia (Team Kovaleva)


B-Division


#Favourite

Norway (Team Skaslien) - The experience factor plays the difference maker in this B-division and Kristin Skaslien is the leader of the pact on resume accomplishments against her competition. Skaslien has been to 5 world championships. 2018 will mark her 11th European championship. Oh and how can we forget she won an Olympic bronze medal this past February in mixed doubles (yeah, yeah, Russian scandal and all...blah blah blah). The biggest knock against this team is their lack of playing together this season, as in there hasn't been any (on the #wct level anyway). The skipper has been curling all mixed doubles events, including at the Curling World Cup, but her women's team have yet to hit the ice competitively. This could be a draw back for them, especially early on. On the flip side, the skipper has been curling alot so if she can get the read of the ice early the advantage shifts her way once again. Add in the wildcard of having boyfriend Magnus Nedregotten also competing here with Team Walstad in the men's A-division and we could be seeing both Norway teams back in the elite group for 2019.

#WatchOutFor

Estonia (Team Turmann) - Host nation teams are always dangerous to play against. They will have the fans on their side and the extra bolt of energy that comes from stepping on the ice as the home team. Marie Turmann came oh so close last season to competing in the A-division this year on home ice but lost in the B-division playoffs last season to finish the dreaded 3rd with an 8-3 record. Turmann has been fundamental in promoting this event both at home and abroad (along with men's Team Estonia skip Harri Lill) so you know she is excited and ready to get on the ice. We have only seen this team compete at one tour event this season, at their home event end of September where they missed the playoffs. What a great story it would be for Turmann but also Estonia curling to qualify for the A-division at home hosting the European Championships for the first time!

#TeamUpset

England (Team Farnell) - Lisa Farnell is no stranger to curling. While some curling fans may not be instantly familiar with her, she is very familiar with stepping on the competitive ice. Farnell, originally from Toronto, is a former Ontario junior curling champion representing the province at the 2006 Canadian Junior Curling Championships. Farnell has also tasted victory on the #wct, winning a title back in 2013 in Gatineau where she knocked off Rachel Homan in the SF. Farnell made her English (and European) debut last year where she finished 4-5 in the B-division and settled for 5th place (15th overall). This could be a breakthrough season for her and English curling though if she can navigate a successful run in Tallinn. This team has competed at one tour event this season, going 2-2 in Latvia and just missing the playoffs. Imagine the #growthesport story if we see England promoted to A-division next year and compete alongside UK rival Scotland! It won't be easy with the likes of Norway and Estonia (as mentioned) but also last year's A-division relegated teams from Hungary and Turkey in the mix. This year's B-division is going to be one of the most competitive we have ever seen folks.


Projected Standings:  1. Norway  2. Hungary  3. Estonia  4. England  5. Turkey  6. Poland  7. Lithuania  8. Spain  9. Slovakia  10. Slovenia

Promotion Qualifiers: Norway, Hungary, Estonia, England

#ECC2019 Promotion: Norway, Estonia

#ECC2019 Relegation: Slovakia, Slovenia


Well #TwineTime threw all 16 rocks at the house in this preview folks. A lot of teams, a lot of competition, a lot of preview....and some interesting predictions. What say you rock heads and stoners? Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts and predictions in the comment section below or on social media.

#StayTuned


The #TwineTime blog will be making an appearance in Tallinn near the end of the RR and throughout the playoff round. Stay up to date with live tweeting, up to date pictures and who knows what else via twitter.

And note, the blog is still on "vacation" for the month of November, enjoying a much needed vacation and mental health break travelling throughout Europe. Special thank you to those blog followers who shared a happy birthday message with me earlier in the week.

The blog will resume regular scheduled activities in December. Hope you all miss me....I miss you!