Pilsen (Czech Republic): The Apex Curling body, WCF has announced that its Winter Olympic Qualification Event 2017 (OQE), which will finalise the team line-ups for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games, Korea (8-25 February), will take place in Pilsen, Czech Republic.
As per the competition format, a total of eight women’s and eight men’s teams will compete at the event between 5 and 10 December, in the Winter Arena Košutka. The teams which finish in first and second places will receive the last spots for the Games.
The tournament will have teams that have not earned enough points, but have competed at the 2014, 2015, 2016 or 2017 World Curling Championships. Teams which have finished third in the Pacific-Asia Curling Championships in the same years are also eligible to enter the Qualification Event 2017. Czech Republic’s teams cannot qualify for the OQE as hosts, but they have participated in world championships during the qualification period, so will be in Pilsen if they do not collect sufficient qualification points to go directly to the Games.
Curling has four medal disciplines at the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games – mixed doubles, women’s teams, men’s teams and wheelchair teams. Teams for the mixed doubles and wheelchair events are decided by Olympic Qualification Points only, with no additional qualification events.
This event was introduced for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. The inaugural host city, in December 2013, was Füssen in southern Germany.
Speaking about the venue, WCF President, Kate Caithness, said, “I’m delighted to confirm that we will be taking our Olympic Qualification Event to Pilsen in the Czech Republic, where I am in no doubt that the Czech Curling Association will host a first class event in December. There is so much at stake in this Olympic Qualification Event where every participating team will be trying to achieve their Olympic dream.”
The Czech Curling Association has hosted an international curling event for the third time. Previously it has hosted the World Wheelchair Curling Championship in 2011 and in 2009 it hosted the European Mixed Curling Championship – both at Prague.
Speaking post winning the hosting rights, President of the Czech Curling Association, David Šik, said: “We are extremely honoured to have been awarded the Olympic Qualification Event and we are happy to be able to promote our sport in the Czech Republic and within the curling community, since it will be the first time we will organise an international curling event outside of Prague.”
The venue, Pilsen, is a city in western Bohemia, about 90 kilometres west of Prague. It takes approximately one hour to get there from Prague’s international airport, which has a superb connection to the whole world. The place is known for its (Pilsner) beer, created there in 1842, but can offer much more.
Speaking about the expectations from the event, Šik added further, “We are looking forward to seeing all the participants and fans from around the world. We will try to do everything to make their stay memorable, even though not of all of them will fulfil their curling ambitions.”
Other key personnel involved, who spoke at the occasion, included the Vice President of the Czech Olympic Committee, Roman Kumpošt, who said: “We are very pleased that this prestigious curling event will be held in Pilsen thanks to intensive cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and the Czech Olympic Committee. Hosting the Olympic qualification just a few weeks before the start of the Olympic Games in PyeongChang will be a unique opportunity to promote Czech curling worldwide and to help its domestic development.”
Taking cue from the Vice President, the Mayor of the City of Pilsen, Martin Zrzavecký, added: “I am glad that this event will take place in Pilsen. Our city is well known as a metropolis of top football, ice hockey and handball and I am very pleased that thanks to the organisers of the Olympic Qualification Event we can get well known as the city cheering for curling.”
After the CPT World Women’s Curling Championship 2017 in Beijing, China (18-26 March) and Ford World Men’s Curling Championship 2017 in Edmonton, Canada (1-9 April) the initial 16 teams (eight women’s and eight men’s) will be known for the Olympics – Korea as hosts and those with the most Olympic Qualification Points from the 2016 and 2017 World Curling Championships.