November 26, 2007

European Championships teams

The teams competing at the European Championships starting on Saturday in Fussen, Germany, seem to have been finalised and the Championships look wide open.

There's been a change to Scotland's men's team, Ewan McDonald has had to step down as manager due to injury, Peter Loudon steps in as fifth man while David Hay, the original alternate, steps up to the job of team coach.

The team David Murdoch, Graeme Connal, Peter Smith and Euan Byers face up to some tough opposition. The home country Germany is fielding the 2007 World Silver medallists, Andy Kapp, Uli Kapp, Andreas Lang and Andreas Kempf, they'll be fired up to perform well in front of the home crowd.

Peja Lindholm is back again for Sweden, he's already got a couple of European titles to his name. It's his second season with his new team, that's James Dryburgh, does the name sound familiar? at three, Victor Kjall and Anders Eriksson, they should make the playoffs.

Norway, Thomas Ulsrud, Torger Nergard, Christoffer Svae and Havard Vad Peterson will be a team to be reckoned with as well. Since Pal Trulsen retired Ulsrud has been Norway's main man.

Johnny Frederiksen, Lars Vilandt, Bo Jensen and Kenneth Hertsdahl have represented Denmark a number of times without making too much of a mark. For this Championship they have Ulrik Schmidt, one of Denmark's most successful skips, as their coach.

The Swiss team, skipped by Toni Muller, is new to international curling, their trump card could be fifth man Ralph Stockli.

Joel Retornaz skipped Italy at the Olympics in 2006 and made himself a firn favourite with the crowd, he's quite a showman. Joel has dual nationality and spent last season playing in Switzerland, but he's back for Italy this year.

You can never predict what the French team will be like, this year it's skipped by Thomas Dufour, but whichever team it is that represents France, on the day they can be brilliant or they can be awful, we'll just have to wait and see.

With Markuu Uusipalvaniemi now a member of parliament in Finland he's stepped down from the curling circuit, Kalle Kiskannen, this year's skip, was in the Olympic Games 2006 silver medal team and alternate Willi Makela played three to Markuu for many years so the experience is there.

The team from the Czech Republic skipped by Jiri Snitl is unkown, so no predictions on them.

The Murdoch four face Italy in their first game on Saturday. The full draw is here.

Kelly Wood with Jackie Lockhart, Lorna Vevers and Lindsay Wood face a tough week as well, their first game on Saturday is against Germany, skip Andrea Schopp, those with long memories will remember Andrea winning the World title in Glasgow back in 1988. The full draw is here.

Schopp played in Switzerland this past weekend in a field featuring a number of European teams, she finished in third spot in that event.

Switzerland's Miriam Ott is a force to be reckoned with, she has rarely been out of the medals in any Championship she's played in and that includes two Olympic Games, getting the silver medal in 2006. Ott won the event in Wetzikon, Switzerland, last weekend.

Ludmilla Privivkova skipped Russia to the European gold medal last year in Basel, the team didn't do so well at the World Championships but they'll want to defend their title, the lost to Ott in the final last weekend.

Sweden, what can you say, it's Anette Norberg with Eva Lund, Catherine Lindahl and Anna Svard. Anette is the most successfu woman skip, remember she took the European, World and Olympic titles in season 2005/2006. They didn't perform well in Japan earlier this year but make no mistake this curling machine on form could do it again.

Diana Gaspari, Giulia Lacadelli, Elettra Da Col and Violetta Caldert got the silver medals in the 2006 European Championships but struggled at the World Championship, can they go one better this year?

Lene Nielsen and her team are Denmark's representatives, they beat World silver mdeallist Angelina Jensen in a two weekend playoff for the right to go to the Europeans. They're a young team with not a lot of international experience.

Team Austria skipped by Claudia Toth is unlikely to make the playoffs, and the same goes for the Czech Republic with Katerina Urbanova.

But for every country at the European Championships they're first target will be making sure of the important place in the World Championships next year.

We don't know much about the team from Finland, skip Anne Malmi made her first international appearance in 1983, we'll just have to wait and see.

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