December 5 - German town Füssen has today been revealed as the host of the inaugural World Curling Federation (WCF) Olympic Qualification event this month.
The tournament, due to take place at the BLZ Arena on December 10 until 15, will see eight men's and seven women's teams take to the ice to battle it out for the last two available slots for each gender in the sport at Sochi 2014.
Men's squads from Czech Republic (pictured top), Finland, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and the United States will be hoping to complete the Games line up alongside Canada, Sweden, Britain, Norway, Denmark, China, Switzerland and Russia, who have already qualified.
After winning their first international championship medal last year, the Czech's will be vying to book their place at the all important event in Russia next February, but are likely to face tough competition from Olympian Thomas Dufour's French team, Turin 2006 bronze medallist John Shuster's American rink and hosts Germany.
Japan will have their sights firmly set on sending their first men's team to compete in curling at the Olympics since they hosted the 1998 edition in Nagano, while future Games hosts South Korea - the nation will stage the 2018 event in Pyeongchang - will be hoping to join their female compatriots, who have already qualified, in Sochi.
Finishing behind South Korea in fourth place at the recent Pacific-Asia Curling Championships was New Zealand, led by Peter de Boer, who will be going to Germany to secure Olympic qualification, while the Finnish team, which has only been together for a couple of years, qualified for the 2013 World Men's Curling Championship to allow them to complete the line-up.
Meanwhile, women from China, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia and Norway will be aiming to join the already qualified teams from Sweden, Switzerland, Britain, Canada, US, Denmark, Korea and Russia at Sochi 2014.
China, the Vancouver 2010 bronze medallists, will be hoping to qualify for Sochi 2014 to get the chance to better that Olympic performance and home athlete Andrea Schöpp, who won gold in the curling demonstration at Albertville 1992, will aim to take her German rink to Russia to be in with a chance for the Olympic medals.
Ayumi Ogasawara will be looking to qualify for her third Olympic appearance with her Japanese squad, while Turin 2006 fourth place finisher Marianne Roervik of Norway will want to be in Sochi to try for a podium finish.
The Czech women booked their place in Füssen after finishing sixth at this year's European Curling Championships, which also featured hosts Latvia, who will be skipped by Iveta Staša-Šaršūne in Germany and Italy, who will be among the youngest in the field at next week's tournament.
All the teams will compete in seven sessions of round robin play from December 10 until 13, before the top three teams go head to head for the Olympic places.
The round-robin leaders will play the second-placed teams in the first qualifiers, with the winner securing a place directly for Sochi 2014, while the losers of these games meet the third place squads to decide the second and last available Olympic spots for each gender.
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