Saturday, February 21, 2009

Curling picks in China

by Paul Webster

HARBIN, China – Sometimes this game of curling is absolutely crazy and can keep you on the edge of your seat.

I was witness to a back-and-forth Winter Universiade curling game tonight between Great Britain and our Canadian Men’s team and let me tell you, that is three hours of my life I may never get back! Our boys came out of the gates playing well but definitely struggling with the ice a bit... luckily for us, the Great Britain squad under skip John Hamilton struggled a touch more, and we found ourselves with a 6-1 lead after five ends.

What I find nice about a lead like that is that you can play quite conservatively and usually make the other team put the pressure on themselves. Usually. I will not go into details... however I will let you in on the fact that we won in an extra-end!

The story of the game was some curious ice on Sheet A and what has to be a record number of picks. I go back to my previous blogpost, referencing the lack of control that the ice crew has over this, and the lack of importance this seems to have in the eyes of the organizing committee.

It is hard to control... however, a vacuum right before the draw would make a lot of sense. Sheet A, where we played, hosts the main entrance into the rink, and has been witness to three or four up-and-down games so far. We thought we were ready for it... however, we had a number of rocks pick even while cleaning the path!

Check out the photo of a gripper from the side of one of the sheets – no wonder the ice technicians ask players to ensure their equipment is clean! Come on guys, this is a global curling competition!

See my blogpost at where I jump into this topic a little more.

Luckily we pulled out the win and sit with a 3-1 record, tied for second. Sweden and China continue to dominate the competition and are both undefeated. Canada faces a tough day tomorrow with Korea and Switzerland, with the Koreans at 3-1 and the Swiss at 2-2. The battle for top spot will take place tomorrow morning between Sweden and China. You can bet that the team that wins this game will be the number one squad at the end of the week.

We enjoyed the morning off and I believe our boys are on a regular sleep schedule. We had planned to go to Pizza Hut after the game today and we had an amazing meal. It’s funny how hot, fresh food makes you smile after spending the last five days going to the Twilight Zone Dining Hall... same stuff, practically, for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

But the really unfortunate part of it is that the Twilight food has been sitting there for a while and can be cold when you go to bite into it. Mmmm, yummy!

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