Wednesday, September 02, 2009

China upset in dual NZ Games finals

Australia’s men, led by skip Hugh Millikin, upset China in the gold medal match at the first NZ Winter Games, winning 10-6, tossing out years of recent Pacific Championships results.

Suffice to say, the Aussies are pumped.

“I think this tournament was one of the best sporting achievements we’ve had as a team,” said skip rocker Ian Palangio, in an interview with The Curling News.

“In the end we beat every country in the field at some point. China has had our number for the past couple of years so it was nice to get one back. Part of the magic of the sport of curling is that in a tournament such as this is that there’s a mix of professional and amateur teams, and all can be extremely competitive.”

Of interest was the absence of former China skip Fengchun Wang... who didn’t even make the trip to New Zealand. Rui Liu handled skip duties, as he did for a few games at the 2009 Ford Worlds in Moncton.

In the right-side half of the photo above, Liu calls a shot while Millikin (left, wearing hat) and Palangio observe. Click to zoom in.

Millikin, by the way, is not 61 years old, as many media outlets (including curling media outlets) wrote throughout the week. Only near the end of the tournament did his real age (53) come to light.

The Curling News suspects some fun-loving teammates might have sabotaged Millikin’s page in the official team biographies. But we only suspect.

In the women’s final, Japan’s Moe Meguro (delivering in left-side pic) outscored China’s defending world champions, skipped by Bingyu Wang, by an 8-5 count. More vengeance was displayed here, too, as the Chinese women have dominated their respective Pacific championships in recent years.

In the women’s bronze medal game, the Korean women defeated New Zealand 12-7 while Japan took out Korea 10-7 to win the men’s bronze.

“The Torino Olympics had 2,000 athletes from 60 countries,” Palangio noted.

“This event had 800 athletes from 40 countries, quite a good effort for an inaugural event.”

We’ll have more on this event in the first print edition of The Curling News, which comes out in October. Stay tuned.

No comments: