Curling Championships return to spiritual home
Friday, 04 March 2011
This is the first time since 1995 that these Championships have returned to the nation that is thought of as the spiritual home of the sport, and ten each of the top junior women's and junior men's teams from the World Curling Federation's (WCF) Americas, European and Pacific regional zones will be playing for medals and titles in the eight days of competition.
To compete at a World Junior Championship, players must be aged under 21 by the end of June of the year preceding the event.
The Swedish women emerged with gold medals from the 2010 World Junior Championships, held in Flims, Switzerland, and this year's team features three members of that victorious squad, among them Jonna McManus, who replaces last year's skip Anna Hasselborg.
Scotland will start among the favourites for this year's junior women's title.
Muirhead, their 20-year-old skip has already won three world junior titels in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and a fourth triumph for her would create a new record.
Muirhead missed out on junior competition last year, to skip a senior team to fifth place in the Vancouver Winter Olympic Winter Games - competing as Great Britain - and, as Scotland, to silver medals in both the Capital One Women's World Championship and the Le Gruyere European Championships.
Among Muirhead's team are Anna Sloan and Vicki Adams, who won gold at the 2011 Winter World University Games in Turkey, beating a Russian team skipped by Anna Sidorova – who also skips the Russians at this event – in an extra end.
The Czech Republic, Switzerland and the USA all have team-members who have played at this level in previous years.
In a unique occurrence, two former Olympic champions will be watching as proud fathers – Briar Hürlimann of Switzerland is daughter of 1998 Olympic champion skip Patrick and Norway's Pia Trulsen is the daughter of 2002 champion skip Pål.
In the men's event, the 2010 champions, skipped by Peter de Cruz, return to represent Switzerland.
Other men's teams that competed last year with either the same or similar line-ups are China, Finland and Norway.
This world championship event will also determine the final nations for the curling event at inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games to be staged in and around Innsbruck in January 2012.