The World Curling Federation (WCF) has revealed details of a new four-leg World Series event, while its member associations have also voted to increase the number of teams at its World Championships.
The World Series of Curling will begin in the 2018-19 season and has been launched after the WCF signed a funding agreement with China-based sports promotional company Kingdomway, which will invest more than $10m (€8.4m) in the sport over a four-year period.
The funding will be put towards the World Series and the general development of curling in the lead-up to the 2022 winter Olympic Games in Beijing.
The World Series has been conceived by the WCF and the Infront Sports & Media agency, and will comprise a leg in each of the WCF’s regional zones. China will host the first event, with further legs to be held in Europe and the Americas before Beijing stages the grand final. The WCF’s funding agreement with Kingdomway Sports dictates that China will host two legs of the series.
WCF president Kate Caithness said: “In December 2016 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between ourselves and the Chinese Curling Association (CCA) for the development of curling in China. This included an agreement to fund the World Series of Curling.
“Since then, we have been in negotiation with the CCA. The CCA introduced us to potential sponsors and we are delighted to announce that we have now signed a multi-million-dollar contract with Kingdomway Sports for the period of the next Olympic winter Games cycle from 2018 to 2022.
“This is a huge step forward for our sport and it marks the most significant step so far, that takes the World Series of Curling from a concept to it being realised and we look forward to our partnership with both the sponsor and the CCA.”
Further announcements regarding the series will be made in due course.
Meanwhile, the WCF’s 56 member associations have voted to increase the number of national teams at the organisation’s World Wheelchair, Women’s and Men’s Championships.
The World Wheelchair Championships will now feature 12 teams from 2019 onwards, while the World Women’s and Men’s Championships will feature 13 teams, handing a third qualification place to the Pacific-Asia zone for the 2017-18 season.
The Men’s and Women’s World Championships will also feature a world qualification event, which will launch in 2019, and a six-team play-off system giving teams that finish first and second in the round-robin phase a bye to the semi-finals. A pre-qualifying event will also be introduced for the 2021 Olympic qualification event.
The WCF confirmed that the format of the World Mixed Doubles Championships would remain the same despite motions to change it.