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It was fun to catch up with Uli Kapp who, with his brother Andy, competed for Germany in countless world championships plus the Nagano 1998 and Turin 2006 Olympic Winter Games.

Uli plays a role in my favorite action photo from Nagano—actually Karuizawa, where curling was hosted—and another in which his team (minus Andy, who fled the scene) attempted to sing some karaoke tunes at the Japanese version of the “Brier Patch.”

Uli and gk

He also features in one of my favourite off-ice Olympic stories, which I just might tell someday.

Judging by the team Uli has brought to the 2021 world men’s championship in the Calgary bubble, there’s now a youth movement underway in German men’s curling.

Kapp’s CUBED-Sports marketing firm shot some exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of Team Germany this week and assembled a video, just for us.

Yep, most of these curlers are young. Skip Sixten Totzek and second Joshua Sutor are only 21, and alternate Klaudius Harsch is just 20. All three represented Germany in the last three world junior championships, finishing fifth in 2018, seventh in 2019 and fourth last season.

Totzek also played third at the 2019 European championships, helping the squad finish fourth—which qualified Germany for this 2021 world shootout.

The skip of that 2019 team was Marc Muskatewitz. He’s only 25 but has enjoyed a solid curling career thus far—skipping GER at two worlds (2019 and ’16) and a Euro (2018) and playing second for Alexander Baumann at two other Euros, in 2014 and ’15. He now plays third, and also plays mixed doubles with Andy Kapp’s daughter, Lena.

(Sutor, by the way, is the son of Uli Sutor, who played third for Germany’ 1991 European champions—with Kapp and his father Charlie on the squad.)

Throwing lead stones in Calgary is 32-year-old Dominik Greindl. He left the sport for a while but returned in 2018-19 and debuted at the Lethbridge worlds. He adds life experience that coach Uli can also preach.

“They’ve had quite a journey already,” says Uli. “Basically Marc and Dominik are the leftovers from the 2019 world team and now everyone is committed for the future. Joshi and Sixten were also playing juniors but the cancellation of the 2021 world juniors means they can fully focus on men’s play.

“They’ve got talent and skills, but they need some time to develop.”

It sounds like future Olympic Winter Games in 2026 (Milan/Cortina) and 2030 (?) might be the target here … but anything can theoretically happen in 2021. Yes, the cream rose to the top at both Canadian four-player championships but there was only one winning team at each of those events. In Calgary, there’s massive reward for the top six finishers—they all go to Beijing next February.

And there’s always the WCF’s Olympic Qualifying Event—location and dates still to be announced—which will declare the final two Olympic berths.

“At least the pandemic helped us focus on basics in training, such as developing shotmaking skills,” says Kapp. “Having been part of the international curling circus for a while, I’m pretty excited to work with these committed and talented guys.”

Judging by a March 30 social post, Coach Uli seems committed too—by smashing a 30-kilometre stationary bike trail in his hotel room. Auf geht’s!

Starting on April 2, the 14 world men’s teams will compete in 23 sessions of round-robin play with each nation playing 13 games. The top six teams then qualify for the playoff stage.

A variety of broadcast partners will deliver live coverage to their respective countries, including Eurosport, TSN (Canada) and NBCSN/Olympic Channel (USA). World Curling Television will stream a full 43 games on their YouTube page, with most action geo-blocked according to rights agreements.