The greatest collide in Suzhou as Curling World Cup lifts off
Full preview as curling's new era begins in Suzhou's stunning new venue
The first leg of the inaugural Curling World Cup features 24 teams, 82 athletes and 10 countries competing in Suzhou, south-eastern China. Here’s all you need to know.
What’s the Curling World Cup?
A new four-leg international series, starting in Suzhou and ending with the Grand Final in Beijing next May. In between, there will be stops in Omaha, United States in December and Jonkoping, Sweden in late January. Winners from each leg will gain a spot in the Grand Final, alongside the hosts China, the current world champions, a specifically invited team and the two highest ranked Member Associations not already qualified from the Curling World Cup ranking.
The matches will have eight ends, rather than the traditional ten, and if there is a tie after the eight ends, a one-stone shootout will decide the winner. The eight-team draw will be split into two pools of four playing a double round robin. The top two in each pool go into their respective finals.
When does it start?
The competition gets under way on 12 September with the opening ceremony, four days of pool matches and the three finals – women's, men’s and mixed doubles, taking place on Saturday 16 September.
Who is competing?
The Curling World Cup’s tagline – Where the Greatest Collide – is most certainly apt. Suzhou will host world-class competitors including the current men’s world champions Team Edin and reigning women’s Olympic champions Team Hasselborg. Here’s a breakdown of the elite field on offer this week.
In Pool A, Olympic champions Team Hasselborg will begin their new season in Suzhou after a career-defining 2017-2018 season, in which they claimed Olympic glory in PyeongChang and silver at March’s Ford World Women’s Curling Championship. The ever-popular Satsuki Fujisawa skips the Japanese rink and China’s Yilun Jiang will hope to profit from home ice and a partisan crowd.
There are significant changes to Scotland’s Team Muirhead with Jennifer Dodds replacing skip Eve Muirhead, who is recovering from surgery. At second, Victoria Wright moves in, with Victoria Chalmers (nee Adams) moving up to third and vice-skip.
Pool B starts with a bang in the first session of day one as Canada’s Rachel Homan goes up against Russia’s Team Sidorova. Nina Roth’s United States rink and a youthful Korean team skipped by Minji Kim complete the pool, the latter earning their spot with a surprise win in team trials over PyeongChang heroines ‘The Garlic Girls’.
Five of the last nine World Championship gold medals have gone to either Canada’s Team Koe or Sweden’s Team Edin – and both rinks will compete in Suzhou. Niklas Edin skipped his side to number one in the world rankings last season and claimed a second Olympic medal with a silver in PyeongChang. They are many people’s favourites to seal a spot in May’s Grand Final at the first opportunity.
In Pool A, Sweden will be up against hosts China, represented by Team Liu, Norway’s Team Walstad – who finished third in a stellar field at the recent Baden Masters – and the United States’ changed Team Ruohonen, featuring new members Kroy Nernberger and Sean Beighton.
In Pool B, Kevin Koe will also skip a reshuffled rink with vice-skip BJ Neufeld and third Colton Flasch coming into the team. The Canadians will look to Koe’s experience when they face Japan, Scotland and Switzerland in their pool. Scotland will be represented by Team Mouat, bronze medallists at the World Championships in Las Vegas. They also won their first Grand Slam event last season at The National.
Swiss pair Jenny Perret and Martin Rios, last season’s Olympic silver medallists, look a strong unit. They open up against hosts China on day one in Pool B along with Korea’s Hyeri Jang and Chiwon Choi, and United States duo Sarah Anderson and Korey Dropkin, bronze medal winners at the recent Winter Games NZ.
Pool A firstly pits World Championship bronze medallists Canada - the recently-formed Laura Walker and Kirk Muyers - against another new pairing in Norway’s Kristin Skaslien and Sander Roelvaag - Skaslien’s usual partner Magnus Nedregotten is playing in the Norwegian men’s team. The Russians, Maria Komarova and Danii Goriachev - silver medallists at this year’s World Mixed Doubles Championship – will provide a stern test, and Swedish pairing of Robin Ahlberg and Therese Westman add much youthful zest to the draw.
For the first time in curling history, athletes are able to earn prize money while representing their country. A total of $USD 165,000 will be distributed at each of the first three events. For the men’s and women’s event there is $USD 66,000 up for grabs, with $USD 33,000 in the mixed doubles.
The Curling World Cup is the first ever event to be held at the stunning Suzhou Olympic Sports Centre in the vast Suzhou Industrial Park. The city of Suzhou is 100km north west of Shanghai and is known for its gardens and rivers.
Surrounding the arena is a 45,000-seater stadium, aquatics centre and commercial hub.
How can I watch it?
Viewers in the United States can watch selected matches live on the NBC Olympic Channel, while in Canada it can be watched on TSN and in China on CCTV 5+. Outside of these countries, matches will be streamed live on World Curling TV on YouTube and Facebook.
There will be a daily live blog and live scores on curlingworldcup.com. You can also follow all the latest on Twitter and Instagram and via the #CurlingWorldCup hashtag.