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2018 Winter Olympics
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OK, I know it's a wee bit early but the GB Curling teams have been announced for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics, being held from 9 to 25 February.

The two teams are skipped by Eve Muirhead, who won Bronze at Sochi in 2014, and Kyle Smith, a relative newcomer who has won Bronze, Gold and then Silver at the World Juniors from 2012 until 2014.

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The Men's team include Eve's 2 brothers and also 2 Smith brothers. The Women's 5th member is Kelly Schafer, who lives in Canada, but like the rest is most definitely Scottish.
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The Olympic Qualification Event 2017 will be played in the Winter Arena Košutka, Pilsen in the Czech Republic between 5 and 10 December. Pilsen is probably much better known as the birthplace of Pilsener lager and less well known as the birthplace of Petr Cech (of Gregory Porter headgear fame) and also Emil Skoda (of heated rear windows fame).

Seven women's teams and eight men’s teams will compete for the final four – two women’s and two men’s – places in the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games team curling tournaments. From Tuesday 5 until Saturday 9 December the women's and men's teams will play in seven sessions of round-robin play. After this, the top three teams in each event will play-off with the round-robin leaders playing the second-placed teams. The winners of these games will take the first of the two Olympic places, and the losers will then play the third-placed teams for the second and last available Olympic slots.

The women’s teams competing are China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy and Latvia and the men's teams are China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Russia.

So far, eight Member Associations have already qualified for both the women’s and men’s event at the Games, which begins on Wednesday 14 February and runs until Sunday 25 February 2018.
Women - Canada, Russia, Switzerland, Great Britain, United States, Sweden, Korea and Japan.
Men - Canada, Sweden, United States, Japan, Switzerland, Great Britain, Norway and Korea.
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Got to admit that because of you I have definitely become “All About Eve”!!!!
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Much too big an article to quote in detail, but the IOC are due to make an announcement tomorrow on Russia's participation in the Winter Olympics.
Blanket ban on all Russian competitors OR individual Russian athletes allowed to compete OR huge fine for Russian Olympic Committee?  Personally I'd go for allowing individual "clean" athletes to compete, but as the article says, will Russia order a boycott?
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As expected the official Russian Olympic team was banned but individual athletes will be allowed to compete under the name "Olympic Athlete from Russia". In addition the Russian Olympic Committee has been fined over £11m to pay for costs and a contribution to the establishment of an independent testing authority (I thought we had that already? Confused ).

Now for the predictable Russian response.
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Taken from the WCF website.

"The World Curling Federation respects the decision of the International Olympic Committee taken on Tuesday 5 December and will continue to work hard to ensure a successful Olympic Winter Games in February.

The World Curling Federation is pleased the International Olympic Committee has found a pathway for clean Russian athletes to participate in the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

The World Curling Federation is already working to ensure that the recommendations of the Pre-Games Testing Task Force are fully implemented and that the Russian curling athletes who will have the opportunity to compete at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games have undergone all the targeted tests recommended by the Task Force."

I'm certain there will be no problem for the Russian curlers to comply with any requirement and that's good news for the competition.
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After 2 very close qualification games in the play-offs, Italy's Men claimed the first slot by beating Denmark 6-5 after an extra end. The Danes then beat Czech Republic 4-2 to get the second slot.

In the Women's Event, a dominant China team hammered Italy 11-4. In the second game, there was another tight game between Italy and Denmark, this time the Danes winning 5-4 after an extra end.

The final Olympic qualifiers are:-
MEN - Italy and Denmark
WOMEN - China and Denmark

The remarkable thing about the Danes is that the Dupont family - brother Oliver and sisters Denise and Madeleine - have now qualified for the Olympics in PyeongChang. Sandie Shaw will be delighted! (One for the old fogeys there)
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North Korea (DPRK) seem to have made a move for inclusion in these games. Whether or not a "delegation" is the same as a "team" remains to be seen. No doubt the organising committee will get the flags right. Whistle

On another front, the curling programme has scheduled games for OAR (Olympic Athletes from Russia), the first one against GB.
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Four of the wheelchair curling team that claimed bronze at Sochi 2014 will return for Great Britain at March's Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang. Skip Aileen Neilson will contest her third Games, with Gregor Ewan and Robert McPherson their second. Fellow Scot Angie Malone, 52, has competed at every Winter Paralympics since the sport made its debut in 2006. Hugh Nibloe will make his debut after appearing on the Paralympic Inspiration Programme in Sochi.

Team GB have set targets of between 4 and 10 medals for the Olympics and 6 and 12 for the Paralympics. I'd expect around the lower end of the scale for both teams, but hope for more.

On the cynically timed placatory offer from North Korea, South Korean Vice unification minister Chun Hae-sung told journalists: "The North side proposed dispatching a high-level delegation, National Olympic Committee delegation, athletes, supporters, art performers, observers, a taekwondo demonstration team and journalists" to the Games. Expect a lot of identically dressed, handclapping, smiling puppets. Doh
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Expect to see this re-introduced flag (last displayed in 2006) being used at the Opening and Closing (if they haven't fallen out by then) Ceremonies. In a typically shambolic decision by the Olympic Committee playing at politics, North and South Korea will be marching as one team, even competing in the Women's Ice Hockey Tournament as one team (12 from the North and 23 from the South), but competing as 2 teams in the other events, with a further 10 athletes from the North.
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