The Dutch are among the most passionate sports fans around. Where Dutch teams and individual athletes compete, you’re sure to see a sea of orange. So far this year, the Netherlands have hosted two big sporting events: a handful of Euro 2020 matches played in Amsterdam, and F1’s Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, which saw Max Verstappen win from lights out to checkered flag, delighting the massive Dutch crowd.
In December, the Netherlands will host another sportfest, this time with a winter bent: curling’s 2022 Olympic Qualifying Event.
The World Curling Federation recently announced the city of Leeuwarden as host their quadrennial Olympic Qualifying Event for all three Olympic curling disciplines. The site is the Elfstedenhal, a relatively new ice sport facility which houses speed skating and hockey in addition to curling.
At stake are the final two entries to the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games for mixed doubles (Dec. 5-9) and the final three berths for both four-player men and women (Dec. 11-18). The competing teams will include all the nations from the 2021 worlds that haven’t yet qualified for the Games, as well as two countries that will be determined at a pre-qualifying event in Turkey in October.
This will be the first time the Netherlands has hosted a major international curling competition and as host, they will receive automatic berths. Not that the Dutch men would need it … the team skipped by Jaap van Dorp has qualified for the last four men’s worlds, and has scored some title victories on the World Curling Tour.
On the women’s side, Holland hasn’t enjoyed much recent success. The last appearance for the Dutch women at the Europeans was in the 2017 B-division. Whoever reps the Netherlands in December will be hoping for some serious home ice advantage.
Sidebar: the Dutch first made their mark on the European curling scene back in 2009-10 and this publication wrote about it. It’s fun to see the photo (of Dutch speed skating fans) with curling props photoshopped in!
While the Elfstedenhal’s spectator areas are small (1,000) and we’re not likely to see a massive sea of oranje, it’s hoped that hosting an event of this magnitude will give a boost to curling in the Netherlands.
“We are extremely pleased that this global qualifying tournament is being held in Leeuwarden,” said mayor Sybrand Buma. “Worldwide there will be a lot of attention, especially from countries such as Canada and the United States where the curling sport is extremely popular. A first for the Netherlands and a nice addition to the already rich Frisian history on the ice.”