Curling World Cup: Chinese men's squad awarded runner-up
In the first edition of the Curling World Cup that ended on Sunday, the Chinese men's team surprisingly won silver among eight final-stage teams, putting them on the highest world-class level with their best result so far.
Meanwhile, the Chinese women's squad – that had just been rebuilt three months ago –ranked fifth and the young mixed duo Cao Chang/Yuan Mingjie ranked seventh. Canada's Team Jones won in the women's group, as Norway's Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten topped the mixed.
There were considerable gaps between the three Chinese teams and the others, but the Chinese squads set the direction for their future development through this tournament and leveled up their goals for the Olympic Games with full confidence.
For the Chinese men's curling team, attending the World Cup at home was a real challenge. One month before, their round-robin standing in the 2019 World Men's Championship was 11th. Besides, they were divided into the so-called "Death Group" to compete with the 2019 World Men's Curling Championship winners, PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games winners, and the 2018-19 Curling World Cup Third Leg winners.
Composed of Zou Qiang, Ba Dexin, Wang Zhiyu, and Xu Jingtao, the Chinese cross-generation squad edged past Sweden 7:6 on the first match day, but got beaten back 5:0 later. Then, they stormed into the final by defeating Canada and the U.S. in the last group match day, while losing to another Canadian squad Team Koe 5:3 to win the runner-up award.
Before this World Cup, the best result for the Chinese men's curling team in world-class events were the fourth places in both the 2008 Curling World Championship and the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. After losing the recent championship, they adjusted their orders and engaged in intensive training.
This time for winning the silver medal, veteran Ba said, "We didn't think about advancing to the finals, neither achieving such a close result in it. We took plenty of preparation before coming here as all teams were very strong. We are so happy to have reached this level."
The men's captain Zou suggested, through competing with strong world teams, the Chinese players learned about how to control their emotions in the games. Next, they will practice more to cooperate more tacitly.
For the women's side, China had a team of Jiang Yilun, Zhang Lijun, Dong Ziqi and Jiang Xindi. Different from the championship sixth-place Team Mei, this squad lacked experience for big events. They had already done their best in Beijing, but the result was not that satisfying.
"Each player of our team is looking forward to joining the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympic Games," China national curling team leader Lei Yi said. "In the next 1,000-about days, we will improve the details of our technic, welcoming the Games in our best condition."