By Emily Goddard

Karlstads Löfbergs Lila ArenaDecember 5 - Sweden will host the 2012 European Curling Championships when play gets underway this Saturday (December 8), with Karlstad's Löfbergs Lila Arena welcoming the A Group and the Karlstads Curlingklubb the B Group.

The continental tournament, which offers World Championship qualification, will welcome ten national A Group teams, in both the men's and women's events,  as well as a further ten women's squads and sixteen men's to compete in the B Group.

Led by Thomas Ulsrud, 2010 and 2011 European men's champions Norway will be aiming for a hat trick of victories as they defend the title they won when they beat Niklas Edin's Sweden - the titleholders in 2009 - who will be looking to please the home crowd this time around.

Other A Group nations attending the 2012 competition include the Czech Republic led by Jiří Snítil, Rasmus Stjerne's Denmark, a French squad headed by Thomas Dufour, Alexey Tselousov's Russia, and Switzerland led by Sven Michel.

Germany will be competing this weekend with a new line-up, although some familiar names remain in the team, such as skip Andreas Lang and third Daniel Herberg.

Meanwhile, Scotland will be represented by a quartet led by Tom Brewster who have taken world silver in the last two seasons, but with alternate David Murdoch, who has skipped his country to victory in the European Championships three times, rotated into the team.

Thomas Ulsrud norwayDefending champions Norway will be skipped by Thomas Ulsrud (C)

By contrast, Hungary, skipped by third player György Nagy, will appear in the A Group for the first time, having qualified from last season's B Group.

The women's A Group features the same Scotland line-up, lead by Eve Muirhead, that won the title in Moscow last year, while the same Swedish team - skipped by lead player Margaretha Sigfridsson - the Scots beat to take gold in those Championships will be hoping to capitalise on the home advantage this year.

Like the men, there are several familiar line-ups in the women's event, including teams led by Linda Klimová of the Czech Republic, Denmark led by Lene Nielsen, Italy by Diana Gaspari, Russia by Anna Sidorova, and the reigning world champions Switzerland led by Mirjam Ott.

Former champion Andrea Schöpp represents Germany again after having been forced out of the 2012 World Women's Championship through injury, in what will be her 25th appearance at the event, stretching the record she already holds.

Her teammate Nicole Muskatewitz acts as an alternate, after representing her nation at the inaugural Youth Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck earlier this year.

Eve MuirheadEve Muirhead leads the same Scotland line-up that won the title in Moscow last year

Both Hungary and Finland, skipped by Ildikó Szekeres and Anne Malmi respectively, won promotion from the B Group last year to complete the women's A Group line-up.

In the men's event, the top eight finishers will qualify for the 2013 World Men's Curling Championship, being staged in Victoria, Canada, while in the women's event, the top seven finishers qualify for the World Women's Curling Championship in Riga, Latvia, as the host nation is guaranteed a place in the 12-team line-up.

This year will see Sweden welcoming the European Curling Championships for the fourth time in the event's history, having hosted the tournament in Västerås in 1983, Sundsvall in 1994 and Örnsköldsvik in 2008.

The 2012 competition, which concludes on December 15, is the 38th edition of the Championships since the inaugural event in Megève, France in 1975.

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