Curling teams closer to Olympic berths
Updated: 2012-11-26 17:32
The Chinese men's and women's curling teams took a step closer to Olympic qualification after both won titles at the Pacific-Asia Curling Championships on Sunday in Naseby, New Zealand.
Both teams defeated Japan in the final, with the men winning 6-2 and the women 10-4. The top two at the championships qualified for the world championships next year. The women's will be held in Riga, Latvia from March 16-24 and the men's will be in Victoria, Canada, from March 30-April 7.
The championships will be the last opportunity for teams to win points for qualification to the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia in February 2014.
Seven men's and seven women's teams (along with Russia as host) will qualify automatically out of the 2013 World Championships. All remaining teams with qualification points will be eligible for a new Olympic qualifying event organized by the World Curling Federation in December 2013. Two men's and two women's teams will qualify for the final Olympic berths from this event.
On Sunday, the men's bronze went to Australia, while the women's went to South Korea. Korea's female counterparts took a measure of revenge, beating Australia in the third-place playoff.
China won the World Women's Curling Championships title in 2009 and the Olympic bronze in 2010 in Vancouver.
"It's great to win gold one more time," said women's skip Wang Bingyu. "It was a very important victory for us because at the last World Championship we didn't play well. I think we needed a win to get our confidence back and we have done that here by winning the gold medal."
The Chinese women finished 11th at the world championships earlier this year, their worst ever finish.
"Today we just played our own game," Wang said. "We felt no pressure because we knew we were going to the Worlds, which was our most important goal. If we won gold then great, but if we won silver then we're still going to the Worlds so we just tried to do our best and I think we did well."
Although disappointed, Japanese skip Satsuki Fujisawa, was pleased with her team's performance.
"We are still very happy that Japan has qualified for the World Women's Curling Championship next year," she said. "But we would have liked a closer game today. We will need to improve our strategy and tactics to beat experienced teams like China - they played very well."
The Chinese men's best world-championship performance was a sixth place earlier this year.
"We are very happy to have won gold and we are very excited to be going to the World Championship again next year," said men's skip Liu Rui. "We were not bad today but not as good as some of the other games we have played this week. Japan played very well, they just didn't make some key shots. But we need to continue improving our mentality and physically and if we do that we will do well at the World Championship."