Chinese women's skip Bingyu Wang trains at the Dunedin Ice
Stadium. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
The red flag is expected to scale the top of the flagpole
as China seeks to retain its titles at the Asia-Pacific
championships at Naseby starting tomorrow.
The Chinese men's team has won the gold medal in the last
five years and the women have won gold in five of the last
When the championship was last held at Naseby, in 2008, China
won both titles. The men beat Japan 8-5 and the women beat
The Canadian husband-and-wife team of Lorne and Chris Hamblin
became coaches of the men's team last year when it beat New
Zealand 5-2 in the final and came sixth at the world
championships this year.
"The players are very dedicated and have put a lot of effort
into the sport," Chris Hamblin said.
"They put a lot of time into preparing for the events."
The Chinese players are fulltime curlers and this makes it
easier for them to perfect their technique.
The women's team won the world title in 2009 but dropped back
to 11th this year.
"It's a battle to stay at the top and the women are trying to
get back there," Chris Hamblin said.
"The men haven't made it yet and our goal is to get them
The women have experience - four members of the team are in
their 10th year with the national squad.
Three Chinese men have been with the national team for eight
years. These players did not make the team last year because
they were beaten in the final of the Chinese championships.
But the Canadian coaches changed the system and selected the
best players for this year's world championships, where China
Lead Jialiang Zang (29), third Xiaoming Xu (29) and skip Rui
Liu (30) are back in the team.
The Chinese teams spend time in Canada each year to get
high-level competition. The men's team was there for eight
weeks and competed in seven different events to gain
China is attempting to build depth and expand the number of
"They send strong teams to international junior events and
have 12 players in both the men's and women's squads at our
camps," Chris Hamblin said.
On the recommendation of the Canadian coaches, two men's and
two women's teams were sent to competitions in Canada.
"It was great for their development because they need to
experience high-level curling in Canada and in other places
around the world," Lorne Hamblin said.
Curling only became a significant sport for China after it
became an official Winter Olympic Games sport in 1998.
There are still only 300 registered curlers in China but the
sport has been given a lot of support by the Government.
"They are trying to introduce the sport to all of China,"
Lorne Hamblin said.
When the Asia-Pacific championships were held in Nanjing last
year, the final was on national television and watched by 10
The Government was using the high-profile teams "to try and
promote the game to the general population", Chris Hamblin
The coaches approved of the surface at the Dunedin Ice
Stadium, rating it as world-class.
New Zealand Curling chairman Sam Inder said the international
ice-making team would make sure the ice at the Maniototo
International Curling Rink at Naseby was kept in top
Kazakhstan will compete at the championships for the first
time and Mongolia has sent its officials to Naseby and will
be officially voted in as a member of the Asia and Pacific
World Curling Federation president Kate Caithness, of
Scotland, will be in Naseby. She is the first female
president of the federation and the first female president of
an Olympic winter sports federation.
The winner and runner-up in the men's and women's events will
qualify for next year's world championships where Winter
Olympic qualification points will be earned.
The Asia-Pacific curling championships start tomorrow and the
finals will be played on Sunday week.
Women's record: World champions 2009; Asia-Pacific
champions 2006-09, 2010.
Men's record: Asia-Pacific champions 2007-11.
Women: Bingyu Wang (skip), Yin Liu (third), Qingshuang
Yue (second), Yan Zhou (lead), Jinli Liu (alternate).
Men: Rui Liu (skip), Xiaoming Xu (third), Jialiang
Zang (lead), Dexin Ba (second), Dejia Zou (alternate).