|"The Curler" will greet the teams in Naseby. Photo © NZCA|
5 Dec 2018 – The most significant international curling tournament ever held in New Zealand will take place in Naseby, Central Otago next month.
The World Qualification Event, jointly hosted by the New Zealand Curling Association and the Australian Curling Federation, will run at Naseby's Maniototo Curling International rink from 18 to 23 January.
Eight Men's and eight Women's national teams will take part. The top two in each competition will qualify for the remaining two places in their respective 2019 World Championship.
"We're delighted with the chance to host a range of teams from around the world," said NZ Curling Chairman Sam Inder, "many of them for the first time."
"The 2019 Men's and Women's World Championships are the first chance for teams to put themselves in the frame for the 2022 Winter Olympics," he continued. "So the World Championship spots up for grabs here will be keenly contested. The stakes are high and we'll see some great competition."
"And of course it's a wonderful opportunity for our local teams, who have a genuine shot at qualifying."
Eleven sides have already qualified for each of the World events, either as hosts (Denmark's women and the Canadian men) or by their placings at the European or Pacific-Asia Championships, or the Americas Challenge.
The best finishers from the regional qualifiers who have not already qualified for the World Championships will be at the WQE in Naseby – 2 nations from Pacific-Asia, 4 from Europe, 1 from the Americas and the host nation.
The NZ Men last reached a World Championship in 2012, when they finished 5th. It would be a first for the Kiwi Women if they qualify from Naseby.
The eight Women's teams confirmed* for the WQE are Brazil, China, Estonia, Finland, Hong Kong, Hungary, Poland, and hosts New Zealand.
The Men's sides* are Brazil, Denmark, England, Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand (after their 4th placing at the Pacific-Asia Championships), Poland, and joint hosts Australia.
* This article has been amended after some of the eligible teams withdrew and were replaced by those next in line.