Curling: NZ to play qualifying tournament

Sean Becker
Sean Becker
Maniototo's Sean Becker is poised to become the first New Zealand curler to compete in two Olympic Games.

The Patearoa sheep farmer was the skip when New Zealand competed at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, in Italy.

It was a special occasion for Becker because he was New Zealand flag-bearer for the opening and closing ceremonies.

New Zealand must finish in the top two teams at the qualifying tournament at Fussen, Germany, next week to make the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, in February.

There are eight teams competing in the qualifying event and the top two will qualify for the Olympics.

The other competing teams are the United States, Czech Republic, France, Japan, Germany, Finland and Korea.

The New Zealand team, skipped by Peter de Boer, is Sean Becker, Scott Becker, Kenny Thomson and Phil Dowling. It is coached by Maniototo's Peter Becker. The qualifying event will consist of a first round of seven games. The top three teams move to the playoffs.

The top two teams will meet in the first playoff game and the winner will qualify for the Olympics.

The losing side will play the third seeded playoff team for the second spot at the Olympics.

The New Zealand team should be match-fit after playing in tournaments in Vancouver, and at the Asia and Pacific championships in Shanghai where it finished fourth.

The team trained in Scotland this week before moving to Germany for the qualifying tournament.

The seven teams that gained the most qualifying points at the last two world championships have already qualified to join host country Russia at the Olympics.

They are Canada (26 points), Sweden (24), Great Britain (22), Norway (17), Denmark (15) China (14), Switzerland (10) and the Russian hosts.

A women's qualifying tournament with seven teams will also be held in Fussen next week.

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