Curlers aim for clean sweep at European champs

The 2006 Curling European Champions, the Russian women's team, will be looking to repeat their success as Moscow hosts the prestigious event for the first time.

­The European Curling Championships gets underway in Moscow on Saturday, with the Russian women's team considered among the favorites.

“There will be a lot of their friends and relatives among the crowd supporting,” Olga Andriyanova, Russia’s coach, told RT. “And who knows how that will affect their performance. I believe, they will manage to handle that emotional pressure and fulfill our task.  We want to win, and we are ready to make this come true.”

“I have always tried to do more than just coach to them. I've been guiding them, bringing them up. And I am very pleased with the way they are now. They have grown up, become wiser. Their talent and skills are now backed up with vast experience. Now they have patience and mental stability which is extremely important in curling,” she added.

Russia's skip at two winter Olympics, Lyudmia Privivkova, is one of the most experienced members of the team.

Officially ranked among the most beautiful athletes at the Vancouver Games, the 25-year old believes, home walls will inspire the team.

“We will compete on home ice and this is extra responsibility for us,”
she said. “All eyes will be on our team. Fans will be supporting us and we will be giving our all to make them happy, along with our coaches and management. Plus the popularity of the sport in Russia is a function of our success.  So there's definitely some pressure on us.”

“On the other hand, we believe that home walls will help us. ًMost often we perform away, with our opponents getting cheered on by their supporters. We've been missing that feeling. That's why we're looking forward to playing at home,” Privivkova added.

Kira Ezekh has gone through three Olympics and is looking at the upcoming event with confident anticipation.  

“Responsibility, pressure – there's nothing wrong with that,”
she said. “In return everything will be so familiar to us. Russian native speakers all around. Support. That will be great!"

Meanwhile, the team's new skip, Anna Sidorova, has just taken the leading role this year.

“Yes, I've become the new skip of our team, but I'm far from being obsessed with it,” she stressed. “I just play. It's my job and it's my life. It doesn't matter much for me which position I play in. I just want to give my best for the team's performance.”

Regardless of the result in Moscow, the girls from the curling team are one of Russia's biggest hopes in winter sport at any event and they deserve to be in the spotlight, especially, in their homeland.