It's Friday 21st March 2008 so it must be Vernon, BC and the Ford World Women's Curling Championship. That means 12 women's teams from all over the world competing for the glory of the title World Champions and of course the all important Olympic Qualifying points.
The team line up looks a bit different this year, there are a number of well known teams but some of the usual suspects are missing, I'll start with the home team, Canada, skipped by Jennifer Jones. You may remember Jennifer, third Cathy Overton-Clapham and second Jill Officer from Paisley in 2005, they didn't feature in the medals so are determined to do better this year. Lead Dawn Askin is a recent addition to this team.
Switzerland must be in with the favourites for the title, the Swiss team is skipped by Miriam Ott, she's played in everything and has two Olympic silver medals in her trophy cupboard, on her game she's difficult to beat. The rest of the team Carmen Schafer, Valeria Spalty, Janine Greiner all have their share of medals too and plenty of experience on the world stage.
Denmark's Angelina Jensen, Madeleine Dupont, Denise Dupont and Camilla Jensen got the World silver medal in Japan last year, the team's best result so far. The Dupont sisters played in 2005 in Paisley, and between them this team has experience of Juniors, Worlds, Europeans and the Continental Cup.
Germany, what can you say about Andrea Schopp? Including this year she's played in 15 World Championships winning in Glasgow in 1988. With third player Monica Wagner she got a gold medal at the demonstration Olympics in 1992, the two of them have travelled the world representing Germany. Second Anna Hartelt and lead Marie-Therese Rotter are just 20, this is their third year in the team.
Debbie McCormick skipped the USA team which won the World title in 2003, this is her fifth World Championship and that's not counting the World Juniors, including Glasgow in 1991, she's played in. Third Allison Pottinger has six world appearances to her name, second Nicole Joraanstad has played three Worlds, lead Natalie Nicholson has the experience of five. They were disappointing last year in Japan but don't write them off.
Ludmilla Privivkova, the Russian skip is just 21, she's been curling for nine years, but in that short time she's won a World Junior Gold and a European Gold, that's quite a record. The rest of her team have lots of international experience, third Olga Jarkova has played in everything in just about every position from alternate to skip. Nkeiruka Ezekh at second has much the same record, lead Ekaterina Galinka has been in the team since 2005, they could cause an upset.
There was a bit of an upset in Sweden this year, everyone assumed Anette Norberg would make it to the Wold Championships, she was right back on form in December winning the Europeans, but it wasn't to be. It's a new team skipped by Stina Viktorsson, at 22 she's just out of juniors and that's where all her experience comes from. Third Maria Prytz has played in the Norberg team and for a number of other skips. Second Maria Wennerstrom has been in the Viktorsson team for four years. At lead Margaretha Sigfridsson has played in World Juniors and World Women's but has been off the international scene for a few years.
There are two teams from the Pacific region here, China and Japan.
Curling is very young in China, all four players have been in the sport for just eight years but in that time have played three World Championships, their first in Paisley in 2005. Skip Bingyu Wang, Yin Liu, Qingshuang Yue and Yan Zhou have a solid record in their short time in the game.
Curling has a longer history in Japan, but a Japanese team has never made a big impression on World Championships. Moe Meguro, Mari Motohashi, Mayo Yamaura, Kotomi Ishizaki will hope to change that this year.
Italy, well they keep turning up at both European and World Championships, in 2006 Diana Gaspari skipped her team to silver at the Europeans but Italy has never made an impression on World Championships, with Diana this year are Giorgia Apollonio, Elettra de Col and Violetta Caldart.
The Czech Republic, Katerina Urbanova, Lenka Cernovska, Jana Safarikova and Sara Jahadova all played at the European Championships in December, qualifying the Czech Republic for the Worlds by beating off a challenge from England.
No I haven't forgotten the home team, Scotland, one of the more interesting teams in the event. Gail Munro, Lynsday Wilson, Karen Addison, Karen Addison, Anne Laird have had a great season at home, apart from Lyndsay all have been there, done it and got the Tshirt, Europeans, Worlds, Anne Laird has a gold medal from 2002, Karen's got her share of medals from Juniors and Worlds. They've been playing well, have a good attitude and should at least hold their own.
Who will be in the medal zone? Ask me again on the 30th of March.
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