August 29, 2008

Brazil in the news

One major piece of news which broke when Curling Today was off line recently was that the World Curling Federation announced the first-ever challenge from a South American member association, Brazil, to the United States of America for a place at the 2009 Ford World Men’s Curling Championship. The press release can be read here.

Canada is the host nation for the World event next year in Moncton. Brazil, a WCF member since 1998, will challenge the US for the second America's berth. The United States will host the challenge series in January 2009 at a location to be determined.

“The Brazilian challenge marks another milestone in the development of world curling,” said Les Harrison, WCF President.

“We believe we are ready,” said Eric Maleson, president of the Brazilian Ice Sports Federation. “We are confident that this will take curling in Brazil and in the Pan-American continent to a new level.”

My first reaction was, "Great - now we'll get some colour on to the ice!" But then the old cynicism kicked in. Last December I got excited when I learned that a Brazil team was entered into the first World Mixed Doubles Championship (see here). But that country failed to show for the event in Vierumaki, and as a consequence was banned from competing next season. Brazil, if it wished to enter the next World Mixed Doubles in Cortina, in April, it now cannot! (Neither in fact can Germany, Ireland, Kazakhstan and the Netherlands - the WCF sanction for entering an event and then withdrawing).

So, first question, will a Brazil team actually show for the challenge? Who are the curlers? Apparently they are five Brazilian nationals who are currently studying at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, Canada. They train at the Lennoxville Curling Club. No names have been released as yet!

Rick Patzke, United States Curling Association Chief Operating Officer, says, “We welcome the first-ever challenge from a South American team and look forward to hosting Brazil.”

The challenge will comprise a best-of-five series of matches, held over a three-day competition in January. Patzke says, "We are still determining where and when the challenge will be held, and how we will select our team. I hope to have this information to present to the WCF for approval within the next couple of weeks."

It will not be an easy decision for the USCA to decide who should defend their place. All the top US men's teams will be involved in January 2009 in their National Championships, and the top six then will be preparing for their Olympic Trials, in Denver, Colorado, February 21-28.

Scotland is no stranger to facing challenges for a place in the World events. Indeed, that challenge now has to be faced every year, as the European Championships double as the qualifying competition for the World Championships for European teams. This month's announcement will be seen by many as a good thing for the sport, that Canada and the USA should not have an automatic right to places in the World Championships!

Scotland's junior curlers have their own challenge to face next season (see here). Glen Muirhead's team have to play in the European Junior Challenge Competition in Taarnby, Copenhagen, early in January, to try to win one of two qualifying places for European teams for next season's World Junior Men's Championship in Vancouver.

Top: Brazilian curlers model their new uniforms for next season. I wish! Actually it is an AFP pic of Sao Clemente samba school dancers performing during the first night of the carnival parade at the Sambodrome in Rio de Janeiro, found here. Other Carnival photos are available, but most not entirely suitable to illustrate a family curling blog - as the Editor decided after hours of research!!

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