THE 22nd World Winter University Games begin on Tuesday 16th January 2007 with the Opening Ceremony marking the official commencement of the games at the Pala Olimpico Stadium Torino Italy.
Curling is a strong event at the Games and will be one for all to watch. The games will be held at the 2006 Olympic Curling Venue, the Pinerolo Arena commencing Wednesday 17th January at 9.00am.
20 teams will compete, ten men and ten women’s teams in a round robin event. The teams have been chosen to compete based on the world rankings governed by the FISU and the World Curling Federation.
There will be two curling teams competing on behalf of Great Britain.
In the women’s event, Sarah Reid (skip) Vicky Sloan, Sarah Macintyre, Laura Kirkpatrick and Ali Black, with John Hamilton (skip) Andrew Craigie, Iain Chalmers, Graeme Copland and Ross Paterson playing in the men’s event. Both teams are made up completely of Scots.
The women’s event will be a challenging ten days, with the Russian team tipped as a favourite, having just won the European Championships in December. In addition, ‘Team Gaspari’ from Italy on home soil will pose a challenge for the girls, also having a strong season under their belt.
However, skip, Sarah Reid, is no stranger to competition and has faced many teams on the international circuit to date, Team Reid will be using their experiences as a team to succeed at the games.
Teammates, Vicky and Laura, will be returning to Pinerolo having played at the World Junior Championships 2005. The girls will be hoping to use recent experience to take a medal at the games.
The men’s skip, John Hamilton, will play his first international event as a player; entering the event with a wealth of experience as international junior coach and looks to continue his great season to date on the Scottish Men’s curling circuit.
Graeme Copland and Ross Paterson will look forward to the opportunity of returning to the venue in Pinerolo, where they won the World Junior Bronze medal in 2005.
Nancy Murdoch, national curling coach for Great Britain team, commented: “Confidence in the GB camp is high, with both our men’s and women’s teams on form. Their preparation with our experienced support unit will put us in good stead and we look forward to the challenge and experience of the games.”
‘Team Reid’ will play Sweden on the first day of play and ‘Team Hamilton’ will play China. Each team will play nine games leading up to finals.
Chris Hildrey, chair of British Curling, commented: “As this is the first British representation of the new Olympic cycle of British Curling, we recognise the hard work put into the preparation of the team from all partner organisations involved and in particular the support and resources form the Royal Caledonian Curling Club has been invaluable and we wish all the competitors the very best and look forward to their success.”
This will be the second time curling is played at the World University Games; the first was played in 2003 when current European Champion Olga Jarakova from Russia won gold for the women and Canada’s Mike McEwen won gold for the men.
The Winter Universiade consists of seven core sports as well as additional sports chosen by the organisers.
This year’s event is expected to be the largest with more than 50 nations and 2,000 athletes competing.
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Contact: Annette Holmes