Curling: NZ not yet out of Games contention

Peter de Boer at the Naseby Indoor Curling Rink during this week's Asia and Pacific championships. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Peter de Boer at the Naseby Indoor Curling Rink during this week's Asia and Pacific championships. Photo by Craig Baxter.
The New Zealand men's team still has a chance to qualify for the 2014 Winter Olympics and skip Peter de Boer will play a key role.

The seven countries with the most qualifying points from the world championships in 2012 and 2013 will gain automatic entry to the Olympics in Sochi.

The eighth place will be taken by host country Russia. New Zealand has a chance of gaining one of the final two spots at a new Olympic qualification event run by the World Curling Federation in December 2013.

De Boer has been disappointed by the performance of the New Zealand team in Naseby.

"We have not played well," he said.

"We lack match practice. We don't get enough domestic games against high-quality opposition and it takes time to get into that groove.

"We tried hard to do well but we play our best when we are nice and relaxed."

De Boer is the only member of the New Zealand team that played in the Asia and Pacific championships who can take selection for next year's team for granted.

Former internationals Hans Frauenlob, Dan Mustapic and Lorne De Pape must be considered. They were in the seniors team that beat the Asia and Pacific team at the New Zealand open championships in July.

Frauenlob, in particular, has had an outstanding year on the domestic scene. He also skipped the winning four that defended the senior men's title and won the mixed doubles title with Natalie Thurlow.

Frauenlob, Mustapic and de Pape were in the New Zealand team at the 2006 Olympics.

De Boer (41), general manager of Executive Recruitment in Wellington, emigrated to New Zealand from Sydney five years ago. He grew up in Fyfe, in Scotland, and worked in Edinburgh before spending two years in Australia.

"Our family got to the stage when we wanted to travel and explore the world so I took a job in Sydney," de Boer said.

He started curling in Scotland at the age of 10 and finished runner-up in the Scottish championships in 2005 and 2006. His father, David, curled, and introduced his son to the game.

De Boer made his mark as skip when New Zealand finished fifth at the world championships in Switzerland last year. He has long held the dream of competing at the Olympics.

"If we'd won the Scottish championships in 2005 there may have been an opportunity to be part of the wider Scottish squad," he said.

He found the standard of play at the world championships a lot harder than he had been used to.

"You don't get away with errors," he said. "The opposition plays at a consistently high level and they punish your errors.

"You have got to make sure you play the simple shots perfectly every time and give yourself a chance of playing the difficult ones as well."