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Ford World Men’s Curling Championship starts Saturday in Regina

The Ford World Men’s Curling Championship, presented by Richardson, starts Saturday in the Brandt Centre at Evraz Place in Regina, Saskatchewan, as 12 countries begin the nine-day battle for the global title.

This marks the 17th year of title sponsorship of a world championship by Ford of Canada, and the seventh consecutive year that the men’s and women’s championships have been conducted separately, after being combined from 1989-2004.

It’s also the 53rd  edition of the world men’s curling championship, which was contested as the Scotch Cup for the first time in 1959 in Scotland and featured a team from Canada (skip Ernie Richardson of Regina) against one from Scotland (skip Willie Young) in a five-game series.   Richardson is the only four-time winner of the world men’s as skip.

Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Korea, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland and United States are set to compete in the 6,000-seat Brandt Centre (formerly the Agridome), which has also been the site of other major curling championships in the past decade…the 2001 Canadian Curling Trials, the inaugural 2002 Continental Cup, 2006 Tim Hortons Brier and 2008 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

The countries play a round robin leading to the Page Playoffs, whereby the first and second place teams meet in one game, with the winner advancing directly to the gold medal final on Sunday, April 10 while the loser goes to Saturday’s semi-final.  The third and fourth place teams also meet, with the winner advancing to the semi-final, while the loser goes to Sunday’s bronze medal game to face the semi-final loser.

Ford World Men's Curling Championship starts Saturday in Regina

Canada’s Jeff Stoughton of Winnipeg, winner of the recent Tim Hortons Brier in London over Ontario’s Glenn Howard, will be seeking his second world title and a leading 33rd crown for Canada since 1959.  Stoughton, now a three-time Brier winner, won the 1996 Ford Worlds in Hamilton, beating Scotland’s Warwick Smith in the gold medal game and was runner-up in 1999 in Saint John, New Brunswick, losing to Scotland’s Hammy McMillan in an extra end final.

Canada is the defending champion, having won the world title last year in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, courtesy of skip Kevin Koe of Edmonton.

Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud of Oslo is back for another challenge, still seeking his first world title.   Ulsrud, the 2010 Olympic silver medallist in Vancouver, after losing to Canada’s Kevin Martin in the final, is the reigning European champion, having won last December in Champéry, Switzerland.   His team was also the runner-up last year to Koe at the Capital One World Men’s, although Ulsrud was unable to compete.

Sweden will be represented by Niklas Edin of Karlstad, the 2009 European champion who finished fourth at the 2010 Winter Olympics, losing the bronze medal game to Switzerland.

Germany’s Andy Kapp of Füssen, twice a world men’s silver medallist (1997 and 2007), will be making his 13th appearance as skip.  Kapp, who has won 66 games, more than any other skip in world men’s history, is also a two-time European champion.

Pete Fenson of Bemidji, Minnesota will skip the United States.  Fenson was the bronze medallist at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino (Pinerolo), Italy.  He also finished fourth last year at the world men’s.

Scotland, which, along with Sweden, have each won five world men’s titles, will be skipped by 1995 world junior champion Tom Brewster of Aberdeen, making his world men’s debut as skip, although he was the alternate for Scotland’s bronze medallist team skipped by Warwick Smith in 2002.

Other skips include world veterans Tommy Stjerne of Hvidovre, Denmark, France’s Thomas Dufour of Chamonix and Christof Schwaller of St. Moritz, Switzerland.  Rounding out the field are Czech Republic’s Jiri Snitil of Brno, along with the winner and runner-up at the 2010 Pacific Championships, China’s Luan Chen of Harbin and Korea’s Dong Keun Lee of Chuncheon City, respectively.

TSN will televise all round robin games involving Canada, followed by the playoffs, with the gold medal final slated for Sunday, April 10 at 5:00 pm CT/7:00 pm ET.  World Curling TV, the television-making arm of the World Curling Federation, will be onsite producing extensive TV and web coverage for broadcasters outside Canada, including Eurosport, Universal Sports (United States), China’s CCTV5 and Brazil’s GloboSporTV.

Canada has hosted 20 men’s world championships, including this year.  This will mark the third time that Regina has hosted a men’s world championship.   It previously staged two Air Canada Silver Brooms: in 1973, when won by Sweden’s Kjell Oscarius and in 1983, when won by Canada’s Ed Werenich.

Since 2005, when the men’s and women’s world championships were separated once again, Canada has alternately hosted either championship each year.  The 2009 Ford World Men’s was  held in Moncton, New Brunswick while the 2010 Ford World Women’s was staged in Swift Current, Saskatchewan.

The Opening Ceremony at the Brandt Centre is scheduled for Saturday, April 2 at 11:30 am CT, followed by the first draw at 1:30 pm.