By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – This past weekend, Brazil’s Confederação de Desportos no Gelo (Confederation of Sports on Ice) confirmed that, for the first time ever, Brazil’s national curling team will challenge reigning curling world champions, Canada, for the final spot in the 2018 World Men’s Curling Championship to be held in Las Vegas next spring.
Brazil, a country not generally known for its sports dominance on the ice, will hope to score the shocking upset against a powerhouse Canadian team in a best-of-five series that will take place from January 11th to the 14th in London, Ontario, Canada.
According to World Curling Federation (WCF) rules, only two teams from the Americas can participate in the world championship tournament.
As the host country for the 2018 World Men’s Curling Championship, Team USA received an automatic berth in the tournament. That left five other nationally ranked teams in the Americas to compete for the second and final spot: Canada, Brazil, Guyana, Mexico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Guyana, Mexico and the U.S. Virgin Islands all withdrew themselves from consideration, choosing to not challenge Canada for the final spot. But, surprisingly, Brazil decided to step up to the plate and take a shot at the world champions.
It will be a daunting task for Team Brazil to say the least. The team is ranked 44th out of 57 national curling teams in the world. And, to earn the final spot in the 2018 World Championship, Brazil will have to beat a team that is not just the current world champion, but a club that has won that title an unprecedented 38 times.
In a released statement, Team Canada admitted to being surprised by Brazil’s challenge. “This is a little out of the ordinary for our program, but we will be taking [Brazil] seriously,” said Team Canada director Gerry Peckham.
“We have a proud tradition of performing at a high level on the international stage,” Peckham said, “and we’ll have a quality team in London to play against Brazil.”
If Brazil were to somehow shock the world and beat Canada, they will earn the right to compete at an official Olympic Qualification Event for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing. That, in of itself, would be a great accomplishment as Brazil has never fielded an Olympic curling team.
The 2018 World Curling Championships are due to take place in Las Vegas, Nevada from March 31st to April 8th.