It's time for a quick preview of the World Junior Championships, as our teams head for Switzerland today. What a big challenge awaits Lauren Gray (above) next week! The eighteen-year old skips Scotland's junior women's team of Claire MacDonald, Tasha Aitken and Caitlin Barr at the 2010 Championships in Flims. David Aitken is the team coach and Anna Sloan is the alternate.
It has been a big year for Lauren, skipping her own team for the first time. Her team were deservedly the winners of the Scottish Junior Championship. In Switzerland, she will face nine other teams from Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. Some have considerable experience. You can see each country's lineup here. Canada's Rachel Homan and her team have won several World Curling Tour events and they played in the Canadian Olympic Pre-trials event. The team have their own website, and must start as the favourites for the Worlds.
The Russian juniors have three of the team (Anna Sidorova, Margarita Fomina and Ekaterina Galkina) which competed at the recent Olympic Games! Swedish skip Anna Hasselborg played third to Niklas Edin when they won the bronze medals at the European Mixed in 2008.
Our junior women have two games on Saturday, against Anna Kubeskova (Czech Republic) and Manuela Siegrist (Switzerland), both of whom have brought teams to Scotland to play in junior events in recent years.
There will be a dark shadow over the World Juniors in Flims - the tragic death last month of Solène Coulot, third player of the French team. Andrew Ferguson-Smith has a tribute here, and the WJCC2010 website still has the photo of the team, here.
The ten junior men’s teams at Flims are Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States, and of course Scotland, represented by Ally Fraser, Steven Mitchell, Scott Andrews and Kerr Drummond. That's Scott and Kerr prepared to sweep Ally's stone in the pic above. Scotland has not placed well in the event for the past couple of years. We finished ninth in the rankings in 2008 and in 2009. The first aim for Ally and his team will be to keep us out of the European Challenge next season! Blair Fraser is the alternate and Tom Brewster Snr is the coach.
Denmark are the reigning world junior men's champions. Mikkel Krause, who was third last year, skips the Danes this time, with Oliver Dupont and Troels Harry also returning. The Canadians are bound to be strong, their team skipped by Jake Walker.
Scotland will play Norway, skipped by Steffen Mellemseter with Markus Hoiberg playing last stones, in their first game on Saturday.
The event website home page is here. The draw can be downloaded from here. Look out too for webstreaming from the Curlingkanalen crew on Live Channel, here.
Photos © Skip Cottage are from the Scottish Junior Championships at Curl Aberdeen.