IOC member Prince Frederik of Denmark will throw a ceremonial stone at the Opening Ceremony of the European Curling Championships ©WCF

Prince Frederik of Denmark, his country's heir apparent, will throw the first ceremonial stone at the Opening Ceremony of the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2015, due to get underway in Esbjerg on Friday (November 20), it has been announced.

Prince Frederik, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee, performed the same role at the World Women’s Curling Championships, also staged in Esbjerg, and his appearance ensures the event will have a royal flavour.

It is hoped his presence will help generate more ticket sales and Danish Curling Federation chairperson Susanne Slotsager is looking forward to welcoming the Crown Prince of Denmark to the Championships.

"It is very important that the Crown Prince participates and acknowledges our sport and the work we have put into hosting an international championship," she said.

"Apart from the opening, he will also have the opportunity to meet some of our athletes, volunteers and members of the World Curling Federation."

The 41st edition of the event, scheduled to conclude on November 28, involves 26 men’s teams and 20 women’s sides split into A and B divisions.

Defending European and world champions Sweden, led by experienced skip Niklas Edin, will be hoping to replicate their success from the 2014 competition in Champéry, Switzerland, where they took gold with a tense 5-4 victory over arch-rivals Norway.

The two sides will line-up in the men’s A division alongside Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, Scotland and Switzerland, who earned bronze at last year’s event on home ice.

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Reigning world and European champions Switzerland are the favourites in the women's A Division ©WCF

Gold medallists from 2014 Switzerland, skipped by Alina Paetz, will go into the women’s event having also won the title at this year’s Women’s World Championships in Sapporo, Japan, with their strongest challenge likely to come from Russia, last year’s silver medallists, and Scotland.

Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Norway and Sweden are also in the 10-strong field for the event.

The tournament, which features a round-robin group phase before gold medal and relegation matches take place on the final day, also offers vital qualification opportunities for the respective men’s and women’s World Championships.

The top seven men’s teams will progress to the 2016 World Men’s Curling Championship in Basel, Switzerland, while the first eight women’s nations will book their place at next year’s World Women’s Curling Championship in Swift Current, Canada.

Both competitions will also provide qualification points for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.

The countries who reign supreme in the respective B Divisions will take on the teams in the A division which finish in the final qualification slot for the World Championships in a three-match series, with the winner earning promotion.

The event in Esbjerg is the fourth time Denmark has staged the European Curling Championships after capital city Copenhagen played host to the 1980, 1986 and 1996 editions of the annual competition.

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