ZEN-NOH World Women's Curling Championship 2015 begins Saturday

Sochi 2014 Olympic gold medallist Jennifer Jones, returns to skip Canada Photo: WCF/Michael Burns

The international curling spotlight turns to Japan on Saturday 14 March when the ZEN-NOH World Women's Curling Championship 2015, presented by Ford of Canada, gets underway at the Tsukisamu Gymnasium in Sapporo, Hokkaido.

This is the second time that the World Curling Federation (WCF) has staged its World Women's Curling Championship in Japan following the 2007 event in Aomori.

In addition, it is the third time that the Women’s Championship has been staged in Asia. The 2009 event took place in Gangneung, Korea, in the venue that will be used for the curling competition during the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

With twelve of the top women's teams from the world of curling taking part, play will continue until Sunday 22 March, when the medals will be decided.

The twelve teams that have qualified are: Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, Germany, hosts Japan, Norway, Russia, Scotland, Sweden, defending champions Switzerland and the USA.

Canada is represented by the Sochi 2014 Olympic champions, skipped by Jennifer Jones, who will be looking to win Canada’s first World Women’s Curling Championship title since she skipped a slightly different line-up to gold seven years ago in Vernon, Canada.

Defending world and reigning European champions Switzerland will be represented by a team skipped by Alina Paetz. Paetz has won this Championship before, as an alternate on Mirjam Ott’s team in Lethbridge, Canada in 2012. Ott will coach this Swiss team.

Having won gold at her last World Women’s Championship appearance in Riga, Latvia, in 2013, Olympic bronze medallist skip Eve Muirhead returns with a slightly different Scotland team.

2014 Pacific-Asia champions China, will be skipped by Sijia Liu, who will be looking to improve on her team's seventh place at last year's Championship in Saint John, Canada.

Danish skip Lene Nielsen will be making her sixth World Women's Championship appearance this year, while Finland, skipped by Sanna Puustinen, return to the event after their good form at the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2014, where they finished sixth.

Germany's Daniela Driendl will skip at a World Championship for the first time, although she did play as third in the 2000 World Women’s Curling Championship in Braehead, Scotland.

Norway's skip Kristin Moen Skaslien will be playing in her fifth World Women’s Championship, but her first as skip.

Sapporo's hometown team, skipped by Ayumi Ogasawara, will represent Japan. This will be Ogasawara’s fourth World Women’s Championship appearance.

2014 European silver medallists and World bronze medallists Russia are skipped by Anna Sidorova who leads a team that recently won the gold medals at the Winter Universiade 2015 in Granada, Spain.

Sweden will once again be skipped by Sochi 2014 Olympic silver medallist Margaretha Sigfridsson, a four-time World Women’s Championship finalist.

Sigfridsson will be looking to lead her new-look team to Sweden's first world women's title since two-time Olympic champion Anette Norberg won in Esbjerg, Denmark in 2011.

Meanwhile, the USA will be skipped by Aileen Sormunen who is competing for the first time at this level, although she did skip her country to a fourth place finish at both the 2004 and 2007 World Junior Curling Championships.

Following the opening ceremony on Saturday 14 March, the teams will play seventeen sessions of round robin play until the evening of Thursday 19 March.

After this, a tie-breaker will be played if required, to determine the top four ranked teams.

Then, as in all WCF World Championship events, curling's Page Play-off system will be used in which the top two ranked teams from the round-robin face each other, with the winner of that game going direct to the gold medal game and the loser being given a second chance by playing a semi-final against the winner of the Play-off between the teams ranked third and fourth.

The winner of that sole semi-final goes onto the gold medal game while the loser faces the Page 3v4 loser for bronze.

The bronze medal game will take place at 09:00 followed by the gold medal game at 15:00 (all times local – JST) on Sunday 22 March.

Results, statistics, news and photos from the ZEN-NOH World Women’s Curling Championship 2015 can be seen here on the World Curling Federation’s official event website: http://wwcc2015.worldcurling.net

World Curling TV (WCTV), the television arm of the World Curling Federation, will provide extensive live and video-on-demand coverage to broadcasters around the world from Sapporo. The full broadcast schedule is available here: http://wwcc2015.worldcurling.net/schedule

In addition, curling fans around the world will be able to follow selected live coverage of the 2015 World Championship events via the World Curling Federation’s YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/WorldCurlingTV

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