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OLYMPIC REVIEW67 VENUEFORMGUIDE As well as being set in a lively Vancouver community that includes the Queen Elizabeth Park and views of the nearby mountains, the Vancouver Olympic Centre will certainly boast a lasting legacy. Post Games, the venue will be transformed into a multi- purpose community recreation centre with facilities for an ice hockey rink, gymnasium, library and six to eight sheets of curling ice. But it is during the Games that the Olympic Centre will hope to leave its mark. With capacity for 6,000 spectators, the curling competition in Vancouver should be a noisy and entertaining affair. During the Games, Aboriginal art by First Nations, Inuit and Metis artists from across Canada will be installed at the venue as part of the Vancouver 2010 Venues Aboriginal Arts Programme. Over the past three editions of the Winter Games Canada has won an impressive haul of six medals – two of each colour – from the men's and women's tournaments. As hosts in 2010, the " Canucks" will be looking to put on a show the world of curling won't forget. Canada, however, is just one of several leading nations in the sport, in which strategy and mental toughness are key ingredients to success. Competition from traditional rivals in northern Europe – Sweden, Norway, Great Britain, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark – and neighbours, the United States, as well as China, will be fierce. At the 2006 Games in Turin, Canada won the men's tournament ahead of Finland and the United States while Sweden, skippered by the emblematic Anette Norberg, won the women's tournament ahead of Switzerland and Canada. Going into 2009, the form book is being largely respected. At the Continental Cup of Curling, a prestigious end- of- year tournament between North America and the rest of the world, Team World claimed victory in a nail- biting finish despite Thomas Ulsrud of Norway losing to Canada's Kevin Martin in the final competition of men's skins. Olympic men's champions Canada currently sit at the top of the world rankings on 766 points ahead of Scotland- Great Britain on 558. The United States sit in third position on 491 points with Norway in fourth ( 487) and Germany fifth ( 432). Bronze medallists in Turin, the Canadian women's team also tops the World Curling Federation rankings. Sweden are second with Switzerland third, the United States fourth and Denmark fifth. At European level, the Swedish women's team – led by Norberg – has been the pacesetter over the past decade. However, at last year's Championships Switzerland's Mirjam Ott – the only curler in the world with two Olympic medals, both silver – relieved Sweden of their continental crown by defeating Norberg. Scotland, led by cattle farmer turned full- time curler David Murdoch, is the men's European champions. Below leftHost nation Canada currently tops both the men's and women's world rankings Below Sweden's Anette Norberg SPORTS PROFILES

68OLYMPIC REVIEW MIRJAM OTT TWO- TIME OLYMPIC SILVER MEDALLIST DAVID MURDOCH 2008 EUROPEAN CHAMPION What has been the secret of your success competing against some of the " bigger" curling countries? Switzerland is not a big curling nation compared to Canada. We are similar in size and structure to countries like Scotland and Sweden. We only have about ten top- level curling teams but we have a very good structure, good ice rinks and good ice- masters. That means we have a good level of competition, and that allows us to compete at the highest level across the world. After winning silver medals in Salt Lake City and Turin, what expectations do you have for Vancouver? I'd love to win the gold medal. I've come very close twice before, especially in Turin. Right now, we've had a very good season. We won the European Championships in 2008 and have just spent three weeks training and preparing in Canada. I would say we're on the right track. Who will be the team to beat at the Vancouver Games? Canada is the team to beat, and European teams will be strong too, especially Sweden. But I think China will also be a real medal contender in Vancouver. They won silver at the last World Championships. Right now they have a really good team, and are living in Canada and training with a Canadian coach. After a personally successful 2008, what will the lead- up to Vancouver be like? We're following a very intense programme that's been steadily building up for the past few years. Right now we're training and competing with a six- man group that will be reduced to five for the Games. It's going very well, but it's a very hectic schedule. How much of a role do ice conditions, or the venue, play in top tournaments? They play a huge role. When you have top ice- makers preparing the ice it's fantastic, it allows you to curl around stones and play a far more aggressive game. At the past two Olympic Games the ice was a lot " straighter" – at Turin it was like a game of skittles! I think in Vancouver we can look forward to an aggressive tournament, and that's always more entertaining. As a former dairy farmer, is there anything you miss about your former job? I certainly don't mind not getting up at four in the morning! I still keep an eye on the farm, but I would say right now I have an absolute dream job – extremely different from farming. And, competing at the highest level regularly has allowed us to step up a whole new level. BelowMurdoch and Ott in action on the ice SPORTS PROFILES