|Maniototo Curling International, Naseby||22 - 29 August 2009|
29 Aug 2009 – The world-class quality of curling at the 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games made for enthralling final games. The Australia men’s team took gold in a high-pressure game against China, winning 9-6, and Japan beat the Chinese women’s world champions to take gold with a decisive 8-5 victory.
The game was close all the way, with some great shots and a few devastating mistakes. Australia made 2 points on the first end, China only 1 on the second and then Australia stole one on the third to take the game into the fourth end, tied 2-2. Going into the sixth end it was tied again, 3-3 and then Australia scored a 3, but in the seventh Australia, in an attempt at a heavy takeout, clipped a guard and left the way open for China to score 3, to tie the score again, 6-6. China was forced to accept 1 in the eighth end and then Australia stole the finish with 1 in the ninth and 2 in the tenth end. To win the final end Australia remained focused on removing guards and a miss by China put an end to the game.
China is an Olympic-level team that has played successfully at major international tournaments, but it was the Australian team’s veteran savvy that won the day. Australian skip, Hugh Millikin (53), said age had its advantages. “It helps to have been in difficult situations before especially when you give up a couple of points, like we gave up the 3 in the seventh. A lot of times that really deflates you and then you start making dumb mistakes,” he said. “We just kept to it and played the strategy out, so experience makes a big difference in curling.”
In the men’s battle for bronze, Japan asserted dominance over Korea scoring a 4 in the third end and stealing a 1 in the eighth resulting in a final score of 10-7 to Japan. China took the silver.
In the women’s final, China put the first points on the board and was leading 3-1 going into the fourth end, but Japan had the last-stone advantage and scored an impressive 3, a turning point that put it ahead for the first time. China was never able to catch up, going into the final tenth end, 8-5. It came down to the wire with China having to score 3 to tie and force an extra end. China was in with a chance with two stones inside the rings, but Japan’s skip executed a difficult in-turn take out and killed China’s stone, running them out of rocks (making China’s last stone advantage attempt, pointless) and forcing the world champions to concede the game to Japan.
It was always going to be a huge battle between these two world-class teams: Japan, national champion and 2010 Olympic qualifier; and China, women’s world champions. Japanese skip Moe Meguro had a particularly strong game and said they were “very happy” to beat China. “We were relaxed because we were challengers against world champions – we couldn’t be nervous,” she said. “We didn’t think about winning until the end of the game to avoid the pressure.”
China national coach, Dan Rafael said Japan always gave them a good game. “Today we just didn’t come to the play. I know them better than that,” he said of China’s women curlers.
Korea pushed New Zealand out for the women’s bronze, with a score of 12-7 to Korea. Scores were fairly even in the first half of the game and tied 4-4 going into the fifth end. Korea stole a 3 and New Zealand was never able to get on top again, despite New Zealand putting an impressive four points on the board in the eighth end. China took silver.
Dan Rafael said China’s men’s team was a new line up and it was the first time skip, Liu Rui, had skipped a full tournament and that “experience was a factor” in their loss.
He went on to say that the 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games curling event was a great event, ideal for giving players exposure to a tournament and perfect timing for their training schedule. “It’s a great facility,” he said of the Maniototo Curling International indoor rink.
28 Aug 2009 – The curling finals at the 100% Pure NZ Winter Games are shaping up to be a huge contest between world-class teams on Saturday. In the men’s competition, Australia and China go head-to head for gold, and Korea and Japan will battle it out for bronze. In the women’s final, Japan is up against world champion China for gold, and Korea and New Zealand are playing for bronze.
In Friday’s play, China beat USA in the men’s tie-breaker 9-6 to go into the semi-finals at fourth position, playing Japan who finished first in the standings. In the semi-final game Japan (first) lost to China (fourth) with a final score of 11-3. Despite China’s mixed success at the tournament, it showed its true potential in the semi-final and Japan struggled to score.
In the other men’s semi-final, Australia (third) played Korea (second) in what was a long and intensive game. Korea put three points on the board in the first end, but Australia scored consistently stealing a 1 on both the fourth, fifth and ninth ends and a 2 on the eighth. Going into the tenth and final end the score was 7-5 to Australia. Korea had the last stone advantage, but needed to score a 3 to force the game into an extra end. It was looking good for Korea who had two stones inside the rings, but Australia still had a play to make. Fourth player Ian Palangio executed a difficult take-out shot and dashed Korea’s chances of a draw, ending the game 8-5 to Australia.
During the game Australian skip Hugh Millikin complained twice to the umpire about the Korean skip moving about just before Hugh Millikin made his shots. “You give your opponent every opportunity to make their shot – I get annoyed when somebody doesn’t play to the spirit of the game,” said Hugh Millikin. “It added to the intensity of the game.”
In the women’s first semi-final, Japan (second) played Korea (third) in a strong and competitive game. Japan put 3 points on the board in the first, but a consistent scoring pattern meant they went into the tenth end tied, 5-5. It came down to the last shot and Japan made the most of its last stone advantage, drawing perfectly to curl into the centre ring and win the game, 6-5.
In the second women’s semi-final New Zealand made world champion, China work extremely hard for its victory. The final score was 7- 4 to China. China put the first point on the board and stole the second, but New Zealand, scored consistently after that, only ever one point behind China until the eighth end when China scored a 3, New Zealand scored 1 in the ninth end, but took China all the way to the tenth before bowing out. It was a stunning performance by New Zealand who was placed fourth in the standings.
Skip Bridget Becker said her team-mates, who live in different cities and only had four practices before the tournament did well against what are essentially professional curlers. “We had nothing to lose,” she said. “Our team is just getting better and better.”
28 Aug 2009 – 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games (WGNZ) has scooped its second award in as many months. Last week, media manager, Victoria Murray-Orr, collected the award for Special Event category at the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand's (PRiNZ) annual awards.
Last month Winter Games NZ CEO, Arthur Klap, collected the SPARC Event Excellence Award for the event’s world-class organisation.
"This award belongs to the whole team at 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games, from Arthur at CEO level to the amazing volunteers who acted as media runners and manned the media rooms,” said Victoria Murray-Orr. “We had over 200 media at seven locations around Otago so it was undoubtedly a significant team effort."
PRiNZ National President Graeme Purches was impressed with the calibre of entrant in 2010. "With so many strong candidates putting their hand up to be recognised it was hard to single out a clear cut winner in each category,” he said. “This year has also seen the emergence of many new organisations keen to pit their communications against the best in New Zealand along with the usual contenders who have all made an incredibly strong showing."
100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games achieved a level of media coverage for winter sports never before seen in New Zealand in the print media as well as on TV and radio. Extensive coverage was also achieved overseas.
100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games put New Zealand on the map as a winter sports destination for the world’s elite athletes by establishing the world’s first lead-in competition to the Winter Olympics. Over 10 days, 34 events and 15 sports with 816 athletes from 41 nations it achieved this goal attracting the biggest names in snow sports, exceeding all targets and for the first time gaining sustained media coverage for non-mainstream snow sports. WGNZ provided an invaluable training opportunity in the lead-up to the Olympics and many of the medal winners in Vancouver competed in WGNZ.
The annual PRiNZ Awards recognise and reward outstanding public relations practice and practitioners across New Zealand over 12 award categories. Award-winning entries reflect sound public relations and communication objectives, demonstrate high standards of performance, production and presentation, and they represent the pinnacle of PR practice in New Zealand.
27 Aug 2009 – Robust competition in the men’s curling has forced a tiebreaker match for fourth position in the semi-finals at the indoor Maniototo Curing International rink. China and USA went into the round with three wins and three losses each behind Korea, Japan and Australia who each had five wins and one loss. Both China and USA won their respective games resulting in the need for the tiebreaker.
USA played Korea, holding its own with even scores until it pulled ahead in the seventh end, stealing two points. Korea was unable to match it and USA took charge to score three in the ninth end, beating Korea, 9-5. China’s game with Australia was long and intense and another even scoring game until the seventh end when China started to edge away. Australia stayed in the game, but China prevailed, winning 6-4.
Japan won decisively against Czech Republic, 8-2. New Zealand beat Canada in its second win of the tournament and while neither team was a contender for the semi-finals, they had a highly competitive game with a final score of 6-5 to New Zealand.
In the men’s semi-finals Japan, first-placed in the standings, will play the fourth-placed team, either China or USA depending on who wins the morning’s tiebreaker. Korea, second-placed, will play Australia who is third-placed in the standings. At six on the board is New Zealand, Czech Republic is number seven and Canada is eighth.
In the final women’s round China showed its world champion class to beat Japan, 12-2. New Zealand won its game against Australia earning it a place in the semi-finals. New Zealand beat Australian soundly with a score of 10-5. New Zealand coach Peter Becker said the team had been playing really well and he was pleased they had made the semis. “They’ve been so close in such a lot of games that they deserve to be there.”
New Zealand women play China in the semi-finals. The world champions beat them confidently in the round robin, but Peter Becker said they were ready for the challenge. “They know they are a lot better than they were earlier in the week,” he said of the New Zealand players.
The women’s other semi-final is between second-placed Japan and third-placed Korea. In the standings China was first, Japan second, Korea third and New Zealand fourth. Australia was placed fifth with no wins on the board.
The earlier women’s ninth round caused great excitement in the spectators’ gallery. The Australian women’s team put in a stunning performance against world champion, China. Australia went in as the underdog, but started strongly with a score of three in the first end and a further steal of two in the second. The game looked like it could go either way throughout with the score tying twice, first, going into the sixth end at 5-5 and, crucially, going into the tenth end at 8-8. It was a tense last end where China used its last stone advantage to win the game, 10-8. New Zealand played a very strong game against Korea right up to a nail-biting finish in the tenth end. New Zealand went into the final end with a one point lead, but didn’t make its final play leaving the way open for Korea to capitalise on its last stone advantage to score four points and win 11-8.
The ice sheets at Naseby’s Maniototo Curling International are in premium shape for the final games. “Curling ice gets better when it gets some play on it,” said Canadian ice master Doug Wright. “It seems to mature.”
After every game Doug Wright pebbles (sprays droplets of warm water) on to the ice sheets. These freeze immediately and he then goes over them with a power scrapper, which has a sharp blade that slices off the top of the pebbles. “It leaves a flatter surface; a better grabbing surface; it makes it keener and it makes it curl more,” said Doug Wright.
26 Aug 2009 – A huge battle is shaping up for positions in the men’s curling semi-finals with one day of the round robin to play. Australia, Japan and Korea are the leading teams sitting on five wins and one loss each, followed by China and USA with three wins and three losses a-piece. Canada, Czech Republic and New Zealand are out of contention, even if they win their games in the final round. The women still have two more games to play in their double round robin.
Korea suffered its first loss of the tournament in round six against Japan who beat them decisively, 8-4. Earlier, Korea beat the Czech Republic in round five with a score of 8-4.In round five Australia beat New Zealand, 8-5. New Zealand put on the pressure in the seventh end, stealing an impressive three to take the lead for the first time in the game, but Australia rose to the challenge, pulling ahead again and stealing one in the tenth end to secure the win. USA took a defensive position against Japan at the start with no scores on the board for the first three ends, but Japan was too strong and won 6-3.Canada had its first win of the tournament in the fifth round, consolidating its lead over China in the seventh end with a steal of three. China fought back and scored in the final two ends, but it wasn’t enough and Canada won, 7-6. The Canadians are an invitation team made up of four petroleum engineers, three of whom have played together for some 25 years and have strong connections with New Zealand curlers. They went on to lose against Australia in round six with a final score of 9-7. But this wasn’t enough to take the fizz out of their earlier win against China. “Finally our team started curling like we did back home; and if you are going to beat a team then that [China] was the one to beat,” said Canadian skip, Cliff Butchko of the Olympic qualifiers. “It’s extremely special.”
New Zealand changed its order for the men’s sixth round when it played China. Third Scott Becker played last shot and fifth, Kris Miller came in replacing second, Warren Kearney. New Zealand put the first points on the board, but China won the game, 8-4.
In an interesting turn of events in the Czech Republic versus USA game, officials called a hogline violation against Czech Republic in the sixth end after an umpire determined the team’s third, Jiri Candra did not release his stone before the hogline. Head Umpire Pat Edington of Scotland said the hogline umpire looks out straight across the line. “The rule is: the stone has to be clearly seen to have been released before it reaches – that is, any part of it is on – the hogline,” he said. “It was a clear call.”
Pat Edington said a hogline violation often occurred once or twice in a tournament. It results in the offending stone being removed and the remaining stones being returned to their positions prior to the play. Despite the call, the outcome of the sixth end was a good one for Czech Republic, who swept their final stone into the rings to secure a three score, giving them a two-point lead of 5-3. However, USA won the game, 8-6.
A second violation of the day demonstrated good sportsmanship on both sides in the women’s eighth round when Australia called attention to its own violation of ‘burning its rock’ (inadvertent broom-touch on the stone) in its game against Korea. It then became Korea’s choice as to whether Australia’s stone stayed or was removed. Removing it would have given the Koreans an end score of three points, however they elected to let the shot stand and gained a score of only one. Korea won the game, 7-2.
Earlier, in the women’s seventh round Australia played world champions China. China had a strong start, but made a few mistakes in the middle ends while Australia played steadily, stealing 1 on both the fifth and sixth runs. China finally scored on its last stone advantage in spectacular fashion on the seventh end with a four. Australia fought back, but China took the game, 9-4. New Zealand started well against Korea, but this changed in the seventh end when Korea stole a one to even the score to 5-5, and then went on to steal all subsequent ends to win, 8-5. In round eight New Zealand and Japan had a long, hard-fought game, with Japan finally winning, 7-5.
25 Aug 2009 – Tuesday was an exhilarating day at the Maniototo International Curling rink with some unexpected upsets and some teams emerging as strong contenders on what was the third day of play.
A packed public gallery witnessed a strong and exciting men’s fourth round. China and Korea played a riveting, skillful game that was close all the way until Korea dramatically stole the tenth and final round to win 5-4. It continues the winning streak for Korea, who is unbeaten. Korea’s second Lim Myung Sup said China had edged Korea out of the bronze medal at the World University Winter Games in Harbin, China in February and so they came to the 100% New Zealand Winter Games with a goal. “We made a team promise to beat China,” he said.
Czech Republic had its first win of the tournament in a strongly contested game against Canada. Scores were fairly even throughout and they went into the ninth and final round tied at 7-7. A score of 4 by Czech Republic won them the game, 11-7 Canada has yet to win. Another hard fought game was between USA and Australia, who were also tied going into the final round. Australia won with a final score of 5-3. Japan beat New Zealand 11-4.
Teams performing the strongest in the men’s round robin standings are Korea, Australia and Japan.
There was an upset victory in the women’s fifth round when Olympic qualifiers, Japan convincingly beat world champions China, 10-3. Japan stole 4 points in the third end and never looked back, scoring consistently and finishing the game with an eighth end score of 3. China’s skip Wang Bingyu said it was difficult to come back from the third end, “Japan is so strong,” she said. China coach Weidong Tan said at that point “they lost confidence” and that along with the ice conditions compounded the situation. “The ice was good, but a bit just a little heavy – a surprise for inexperienced players. We are learning more and more after a loss game,” said Weidong Tan.
However, in the women’s sixth round today, China redeemed itself with a strong game and a decisive victory over Korea, 12-2. Meanwhile, Japan who opened strongly against Australia, unexpectedly found itself in a close game and had to battle to win, with a final score of 8-5. Australia has yet to win a game.
Back to the women’s fifth round, New Zealand and Australia went head to head in a tight contest, with New Zealand eventually prevailing, 7-4. New Zealand gained an early advantage with a big steal of 2 in the third end. But Australia came back in what became a tit-for-tat game with players on both sides rising to the challenge and making good shots. The eighth end proved critical, going into it the score was 4-4, but New Zealand pulled away to score 2 and followed it up with a 1 in the ninth and final end to win.
Teams performing the strongest in the women’s double round robin standings are Japan and China.
24 Aug 2009 – Strong play and intense games characterised the second day of curling at the 100% Pure NZ Winter Games on Monday.
All four ice sheets were in action first up as the eight men’s teams opened the day’s play.
Australia battled hard against Korea in what was an intense game. A promising score of 3 by Australia in the seventh end was not enough to put them ahead of Korea who led all the way, eventually winning 8-5. China took the lead over Czech Republic in the first end and continued to gain momentum, finishing well ahead in the sixth end, 10-1. New Zealand and USA played a close game all the way to the eighth end when USA scored a 4.The ninth end was blanked (given away) by New Zealand (a no-score for both teams) and USA won, 9-5. Japan was too strong for Canada, winning 12-6.
Korea played another strong game today, holding its own for most of the game against world champion China in the women’s third round. Both teams performed well with China shutting out Korea and stealing a 1 on the sixth end. At that stage Korea was still ahead, but China scored 3 on the eighth end after Korea missed a shot, putting it ahead. Another 2 on the final end secured China’s win, 9-8. Australia played well, but in the end Japan was too strong, winning 8-3.
In the men’s third round Korea put in another strong performance, beating New Zealand 9-4. Korea played consistently throughout, stealing 3 points in the second end. New Zealand ran into bad luck when a stone picked dramatically (encountered a minute foreign entity) and went well off course in the fifth end. “It was a shame. It looked like we were getting back in there,” said Dan Mustapic, New Zealand’s skip.
Korea’s second, Lim Myung Sup said they hadn’t played New Zealand before and were pleased with their performance. “Actually we practised hard for two months before this Winter Games. I think we had a good game. New Zealand is very good-placed, so we are very happy," he said.
Still on the men’s round, China and Japan played an even game right up until the last end, when it looked like it could go either way. China had the last shot of the game, but it came into the house a little short in that end and the game went to Japan, 8-7. USA was on form beating Canada 6-2. Australia beat Czech Republic, 10-2.
In the final women’s round of the day Japan beat Korea, 7-1. New Zealand’s third, Brydie Donald had been taking the last shot during the first day of play, but today, skip Bridget Becker was back in that role. However, New Zealand was once again soundly beaten by world champion China with a final score of 11-1.
23 Aug 2009 – It was an exciting first day at the curling event with some strong play, impressive scores and close games. The women opened the first round of competition with New Zealand putting in a strong performance against Japan. There wasn’t much between them during the first half of the game, but Japan pulled away in the second, eventually winning 9-3. Korea beat Australia convincingly with a final score of 14-1.
New Zealand’s third, Brydie Donald is currently playing the last stone, which is usually played by a team’s skip. The team’s coach, Peter Becker said this was a request by the selectors and while seldom seen in New Zealand, it was done overseas and no reflection on skip, Bridget Becker. “Bridget has been playing, at times, quite brilliantly on her last stone,” he said. Despite their loss, New Zealand remained confident.
Peter Becker said the ice was in perfect condition and was very weight-sensitive, therefore skill was an extremely important factor. “You have to throw the perfect stone.”
The second round was the men’s. Three of the four games were very close and hard won with New Zealand scoring two points on the final end to beat the Czech Republic 7-6; Australia beat Japan 5-3 and China beat USA 8-4. Korea beat Canada 10-3, with Canada unable to catch up after Korea scored a four in the fourth end.
The third and final round saw some exciting play by women’s teams, Korea and Japan who had a close game that went into an extra end (11th). Japan was looking good, but Korea’s final stone wicked-in (caught the edge) off the opposition’s shot stone onto their second shot, to slide into centre of the house and win them the game 7-6. It was a stunning play by Korea’s third, Kang Yoo-ri, who usually plays the team’s last shot because of her skill. “It all went to plan,” she said.
New Zealand women went up against China, the current world champions who showed their mettle in the fourth end, knocking New Zealand out of the house and scoring an impressive 6. The game went to six ends with China winning 12-1.
23 Aug 2009 – The curling opening ceremony of the 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games began fittingly with the piping in of teams onto the ice sheets of the indoor Maniototo Curling International.
Jock Scott and Ewan Mason, both international bagpipe players and drummer Rebecca Strode led the procession.
They were followed by dignitaries, Sir Eion Edgar, chairman, 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games; Robert Rutherford, chairman, executive of New Zealand Curling Association; Gerald Dowling, chairman, Manitotio Curling International; and Darren Carson, president, New Zealand Curling Association; and four NZCA life members. Teams followed: Australia, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Japan, Korea, USA and New Zealand carrying their flags. School children, who curl every week at the rink in Naseby, accompanied teams displaying signs of each country's name.
Sir Eion Edgar, who released a stone onto the ice before declaring the curling event open, commented on how significant the 100% Pure New Zealand Games was, with 800 athletes competing in the various sports. "We always thought curling was a key ingredient of the Winter Games and you've been a delight to work with; you've made it so easy for us."
In the curling event there are five women's teams competing, including China, the world champions; and eight men's teams including some from further afield - USA, Canada and Czech Republic. New Zealand Curling Association president Darren Carson said it was good to have so many teams here, given the economic climate. "This is our one chance to get it right so they think it's a great event and they want to come back."
He said feedback from curlers had been good, particularly about the condition of the ice. "They love it, they do. It's got a good curl; good feel. It's a consistent curl too. Sometimes you get an ice that's very straight and you've got to remember our game is called curling."
Darren Carson paid tribute to all the volunteers and the community of Naseby who had undertaken a huge volume of work for many weeks before the curling event had even begun.
100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games curling round robins began with women's teams Australia and Korea; Japan and New Zealand. Two more women's games are scheduled for today and four men's games.
Eight men’s teams and five women’s teams, including the current world champions, will make up the final quota of the curling event at the inaugural 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games.
The Chinese women’s curling team is currently ranked number eight in the world and are current world champions following their victory at the 2009 World Curling Championships in Korea. Their closest rivals are the Japanese who have also qualified for the 2010 Olympics. The women’s field is completed by Korea’s national champion team and the top Australian and New Zealand women’s teams.
The men’s competition features top teams from Australia, Canada, China, Korea, Japan, Czech Republic and New Zealand and the USA. The New Zealand team is lead by Dunedin’s Dan Mustapic who is veteran of three world championships and member of the New Zealand Olympic team in 2006. He is joined by fellow Olympian Warren Dobson (Mt Ida) along with Scott Becker, Warren Kearney and Kris Miller all of Ranfurly.
The curling competition starts on Sunday 23 August at the Maniototo Curling International indoor rink in Naseby and runs until Saturday 29 August. Tickets are available for the semi finals and finals from $8 available from TicketDirect with a grandstand set up on the ice to get right up close to all the action.
100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games will take place at Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Cardrona Alpine Resort, Snow Farm, Naseby and Dunedin from 21-30 August 2009 and will feature disciplines of alpine skiing, free skiing, x-country skiing, snowboarding, curling, ice skating and adaptive snow sports as well as the demonstration sports of winter triathlon and natural luge.