Thursday, August 27, 2009

NZ Games Playoffs

The curling competition of the first NZ Winter Games now heads into the playoffs.

China’s Olympic men’s team continues to struggle, just as they did at the Ford Worlds in Moncton. Their 4-3 record sees them limping into a tiebreaker for the fourth and final playoff spot. They will meet youthful Jerod Roland of the USA, also 4-3, on Friday morning [Adam Nathan photo above by ODT/Getty Images].

Earlier in the week, the Chinese had lost to Canada by an 7-6 count. The Canadians finished in last place with a 1-6 record, in their first international competition... but they hadn’t really played a national, either.

According to Snow, the Canadians are an invitation team made up of four petroleum engineers from the Calgary area, three of whom have played together for some 25 years and have strong connections with New Zealand curlers.

The squad will no doubt remain jazzed over their experience, and particularly the win over China. “Finally our team started curling like we did back home,” said skip Cliff Butchko, “And if you are going to beat a team then (China) was the one to beat. It’s extremely special.”

Japan (6-1) awaits the tiebreaker winner in one semifinal, while second-ranked Korea (5-2) will lock horns with the Aussies (also 5-2) in the other semi. You can follow the Australian curling blog for extra tidbits.

On the women’s side, things appear more ordinary within the small field. The Aussie women threw a scare into the top-ranked Chinese before falling 10-8, which now pits Bingyu Wang’s crew against New Zealand in one semi, while Japan battles Korea in the other.

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