From a curling perspective, Vancouver 2010 was always going to be the Olympic sport’s high-water mark.
In just under three years, the world will gather in Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games and boy, we were surprised when they won that bid!
Shortly thereafter, we gave you a sneak peek on the cities that were assembling a bid for the 2018 Winter Games.
The list of 2018 candidate cities has been whittled down to just three – Annecy in France, Munich (Germany) and PyeongChang, South Korea – and the big decision will be made in less than three months, on July 6.
All three cities just finished selling themselves at today's session of SportAccord, the massive international sport conference in Monaco. How massive is this annual gathering? Well, it’s big enough to attract World Curling Federation Secretary-General Colin Grahamslaw who would otherwise be in attendance at his organization’s flagship event in Regina, wouldn’t you think?
Here’s the lowdown on the candidates – from that curling perspective...
ANNECY – The last time a tiny French town hosted the Winter Games was Albertville in 1992. Although curling was only a demonstration sport that year, The Roaring Game was tossed into an even smaller town – Pralognon-La-Vanoise – and it was a complete disaster. Nobody showed up to watch – and we mean nobody – and two of the four sheets of ice melted and were unusable for the entire tournament. Yes, France desperately needs a curling boost and yes, it is great to see the wonderfully stubborn Thomas Dufourplaying so well in Regina, but who is to say that a decent curling showcase in Annecy will make any difference to the sport’s shameful level of domestic ignorance?
MUNICH – The German city lost out on a chance to host next year’s world men’s curling shootout (to Basel, Switzerland) but they just might land the Olympic Winter Games. The event would be hosted in the same European time zone as Annecy and the Germans, like the French, are also desperate for grassroots curling growth. Based on what we’ve seen to date, Munich would be great for curling; the organizing committee has shown some dynamic creativity in including the sport throughout its marketing activities (see the photo at left). And something tells us the German people would be more enthusiastic for our grand game than our Gallic friends.
PYEONGCHANG – A betting man would pick the Koreans to win this one, hands down. This is their third consecutive bid to host the Winter Games (they finished a surprisingly strong second to Vancouver in 2010 and they also lost the 2014 vote to The Vlad Putin Show) and they are determined to win this one. Plus, Sochi is pretty close to Europe, which could be a negative for both Annecy and Munich, and 2018 will mark the 10th annniversary of the Beijing 2008 Olympic (Summer) Games.
From a curling perspective, the Koreans have done their share of winning at the annual Pacific Championships to qualify for various worlds over the years. This year alone, Korea qualified for both the worlds in Esbjerg (women’s) and Regina. Moreover, Korea hosted the last Asian worlds – the 2009 world women’s in Gangneung, located fairly close to PyeongChang – so they have a venue ready to go.
So there you go. If you were an International Olympic Committee bigwig – and a curling fan – which candidate city would you vote for?
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