Thursday, November 23, 2006

Norberg, Kiwi curlers in a battle


Europe, widely assumed to have the edge in overall team lineup, are on the defensive here at the Continental Cup.

And it's the big women's shooter, Sweden's Anette Norberg, that is struggling the most. Norberg herself missed gimme last-rock shots for wins in both the morning's Mixed Doubles competition and this afternoon's team battle versus Debbie McCormick of the USA. Takeouts, no less.

The latter shot was a gift double, left for Norberg after McCormick missed her last shot... for three and the win, after being outplayed by the Americans all game. Yikes.

Tonight it's the men.

Over to Tokyo, Japan, and the Pacific Championships (photo). On the women's side the hosts are through to the playoffs, along with China, Korea and New Zealand. In men's play, we'll let men's New Zealand third Hans Frauenlob take up the story... here's his insider's report.

Hi there TCN,

As usual it's an interesting event here in Tokyo. On the men's side, it's incredibly even; with two rounds to play in the round robin, China, Australia, Korea and New Zealand (yeah, that's us) are all on 2-1 win/loss records. Japan is 1-2 and Chinese Taipei is 0-3.

Four teams advance to the Saturday semis, and at this point its still anyone's tournament. Fourth round today, final round tomorrow morning, tiebreaks if necessary tomorrow afternoon and evening.

As an NZ-specific thing, if you want to see the shot of the tournament so far – and if you're a CurlTV subscriber – have a look at our game against Japan last night. Go to the sixth end and look at Dan (Mustapic, our skip) and his first shot. A double angle-raise-pickout that is as good as any you'll ever see – totally pumped us up and turned the game around.

In the women's, you know the playoff teams... what's interesting is that Australia withdrew from the tournament just prior to it starting.

Interesting aspects of the tournament:

• Curl TV is covering it, showing all Japanese games;

Dave Merklinger is the icemaker, and his ice is quick and boasts about 4-1/2 feet of curl;

• about 80 media from all media types attended the tournament opening press conference!!

• the Japanese women's team are genuine celebrities here. Fans wait outside the arena for opportunities to take photos or get autographs. There is no doubt that the Olympics has made an impact on the profile of the sport in Japan.

Say hi to all our mates from Europe for us at the ConCup! Cheers!

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