Saturday, February 28, 2009

China, Sweden take Universiade gold

by Paul Webster

HARBIN, China – Hats off to the Chinese women, skipped by Bingyu Wang, who pulled off the win in the gold medal game here in Harbin, China. They are the 2009 World University Games champions and met the expectations of their top ranked status!

Likewise to the Swedish men’s team, led by Niklas “I’m Not Scottish” Edin. Great team all week, and a great finish.

For the match details, head to this great WCF page.

I want to acknowledge the unbelievable accomplishment of the Canadian women’s team, skipped by Hollie Nicol, who earned the silver. To take the top seeding into the playoffs (with an undefeated record), win the semifinal and then take the world number two team to the 10th end in a world championship is remarkable, and something these five ladies and coach John Nicol should be extremely proud of.

I know the result is perhaps not the storybook ending they were dreaming about, however in the years to come it will be pretty cool for them to know that they competed toe-to-toe against the world’s best.

The game had its share of big shots and big misses and Canada seemed to want to recreate their comeback in the semifinal, but the Chinese simply kept pressing and eventually out-shot their opponents.

I want to congratulate this team and their coaches for the amount of work they have put into this team, and this tournament.

The ice conditions were fantastic, again, and now we thank the icemakers : Scott Henderson of Scotland and Doug Wright of Canada. After a chat with Doug during the final it was amazing to hear some of the difficulties they experienced during this championship that we simply didn’t realize – everything from a dripping roof to broken windows?! – when everything had been promised to be “okay”. They even ended up tarping the ice the night before the finals, to ensure no water would drip onto it.

I want to take this opportunity, as well, to apologize for my somewhat shortsighted comments regarding practicing with new sets of rocks prior to the finals (see above link). Keith Wendorf, the WCF Technical Consultant to this FISU championship, informed me that this has never been the case at a world championship and I simply had my facts wrong. Okay!

As well, adding one to two hours of additional ice time at night would definitely put a stress on our ice technicians and officials. Now, if given the chance, I would still love the opportunity to take a new set of rocks and practice with them... Keith, if you’re reading...? We will simply have to do a better job of matching stones next time.

This is China’s first big international competition and they have done a fantastic job. A competition like this defiitely starts at the top and kudos to Li Dongyang, General Secretary of the Chinese Curling Association (the CCA of China!). I also want to thank Scotland’s Jeannette Johnson, FISU Representative, who has a tremendous amount of experience with world curling events and was able to guide a new organizing committee with, what seemed from the outside, a degree of strong success. Of course we will never know all the hard work – and headaches – that went on behind the scenes.

Thanks as well to Keith, who is also the Director of Competitions for the WCF, for his hard work behind the scenes. I have known Keith since 1993 and I think his schedule gets busier every year. His work supporting the officials and organizing committee definitely brings some professionalism and player/coach background to every event, and I know this is appreciated by the coaches and athletes alike.

Donna Stadzell and her crew of Mary Pat and Urs ensured everything was looked after on the offciating side of things, and we really didn’t have a hiccup all week. They took a rookie force of officials and made it look like a veteran squad (see photo).

Hey, can anyone see Keith in that photo? Even if you click to zoom in? :-)

We have a couple of days left here in Harbin, which will see the entire Canadian contingent head to the Harbin Tiger Zoo. A rumoured four hundred tigers await, and livestock that is sent in for feeding... all while you stare from a safari bus.

Not sure I’ll be blogging about that!

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