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In The Rings: Italy's Retornaz a favourite entering Euros after breakout season

A breakout season has made Italy's Joel Retornaz the favourite entering the upcoming European Curling Championships in Scotland. Retornaz has guided his squad to back-to-back Grand Slam titles and the No.
Italian skip Joel Retornaz reacts to his final shot in the eighth end during play against Team Norway during the qualification game at the Men's World Curling Championship, Saturday, April 8, 2023 in Ottawa. A breakout season has made Retornaz the favourite entering the upcoming European Curling Championships in Scotland. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

A breakout season has made Italy's Joel Retornaz the favourite entering the upcoming European Curling Championships in Scotland.

Retornaz has guided his squad to back-to-back Grand Slam titles and the No. 1 spot on the year-to-date world men's curling rankings.

"The team sees what they're capable of and as confidence rises and as the belief in themselves (increases), there's honestly no ceiling to what this team can accomplish," said team coach Ryan Fry. 

Retornaz, Amos Mosaner, Sebastiano Arman and Mattia Giovanella headline a 10-team men's field at the Curl Aberdeen facility that includes defending champion Bruce Mouat of Scotland and reigning Olympic champion Niklas Edin of Sweden.

Retornaz, who's making a 15th career appearance at the Euros, won bronze last season. He opened the 2023-24 Grand Slam campaign by winning the HearingLife Tour Challenge in Niagara Falls, Ont., and took the Kioti National last weekend in Pictou County, N.S.

His rink enters round-robin play Saturday with a record of 36-4 on the season. 

"They're kind of changing the way the game might be played in the future," said longtime curling commentator Mike Harris. "You look at the size of those guys sweeping now. They're playing incredibly well."

Mosaner, who stands six foot six, won Olympic mixed doubles gold last year. The team's raw power with the broom gives the squad a "larger window to throw it through," Harris said.

"They can miss guards by more and still make the shot," he said. "On draws, they're able to carry it a little bit farther or keep it a little bit straighter … it's just a nice feeling for them as athletes knowing that the game is easier when you're able to move the rock more."

Rounding out the entry list is Norway's Magnus Ramsfjell, Wouter Goesgens of the Netherlands, Germany's Sixten Totzek, Finland's Kalle Kiiskinen, Czechia's Lukas Klima, Switzerland's Yannick Schwaller and Turkey's Ugurcan Karagoz.

Longtime vice-skip Mathilde Halse will skip the defending champions from Denmark in a women's field that includes reigning world champion Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland, Sweden's Isabella Wrana and Italy's Stefania Constantini.

Czechia's Anna Kubeskova, Estonia's Marie Kaldvee, Germany's Emira Abbes, Norway's Kristin Skaslien, Scotland's Rebecca Morrison and Turkey's Dilsat Yildiz are also in the field. 

Round-robin play continues through Nov. 23. The finals are set for Nov. 25.

The European championships also act as qualifiers for the world championships. Eight women's teams will secure berths for their respective countries in the world playdowns in Sydney, N.S., in March.

Host Switzerland and seven other European teams will earn national spots for the world men's curling championship in April at Schaffhausen. 

The European championships also has B-Division draws at the Dewars Centre in Perth, Scotland.

The 16 men's entries in that draw include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England, Estonia, France, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine and Wales.

The 10 women's entries include Austria, Belgium, England, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.


St. John's, N.L., skip Brad Gushue will tick off a bucket list item by playing in Japan at the Karuizawa International Curling Championships next month.

Gushue has played in Asia on several occasions — notably winning bronze at last year's Winter Olympics in Beijing, China — but has never competed in the Land of the Rising Sun.

"We've heard a lot of really good stuff about it in the past," Gushue said. "The way they treat the athletes and just the experience of playing in Japan — the food, the culture, everything about it — (it should be) a great experience. I'm looking forward to it. I've never had that chance.

"To get to do it at this stage of our careers I think is going to be exciting. It was (an event) we definitely had circled on our calendar this fall."

Winnipeg-based teams skipped by Jennifer Jones and Kaitlyn Lawes will be in the women's field at the Dec. 1-3 competition at Karuizawa Ice Park.


The Barrie Curling Club will host the 2024 Canadian curling club championships. 

The event features women's and men's teams from each of Curling Canada's 14 member associations. Competition is scheduled for Nov. 17-23, 2024.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 16, 2023. 

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on X.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

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