The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

China reaches semifinals in men's Olympic curling; Britain, Norway to play tiebreaker

  • Print

SOCHI, Russia - The curling world has been waiting for years for China's men's team to fulfil its rich potential.

It just might happen at the Sochi Olympics.

The Chinese finally made a breakthrough at international level by beating Britain 6-5 in a winner-takes-all last game of the round robin to reach the Olympic semifinals on Monday.

China skip Liu Rui, arguably the star player in the tournament so far, thrust his clenched right fist into the air when his rock settled in the button for the winning point in the 10th end.

Given his statistics over the past week in Sochi — he's shooting at 88 per cent accuracy— it was never really in doubt.

"The Chinese guy was on fire there," Britain skip David Murdoch said of Liu. "It is tough when you are up against a skip who is making everything."

The defeat bumped the British into a tiebreaker against Norway, which lost 5-3 to Denmark to miss out on advancing directly to the playoffs. Sweden and Canada already had qualified on Sunday.

The tiebreaker will be played Tuesday.

Liu has been part of a China rink that has been on the circuit for the past decade. The players' technique and dedication has never been in question but their strategy and big-game temperament certainly has, making them fall short in the top tournaments.

In their first appearance at an Olympics — in Vancouver in 2010 — the Chinese placed eighth, and they have never made the podium at a world championship.

The transformation from underachievers to gold-medal contenders can be put down in large part to the hiring of Canadian curling great Marcel Rocque for the final year of the Olympic cycle.

"You know what, my boys think they can run with anyone now, which is a big part of their success, believing they are as good as the top in the sport," said Rocque, a three-time world champion.

"I have worked a lot between the ears."

China's emergence hasn't surprised its rivals.

"They have been good technically, good shooters, for four or five years and now they have some Canadian coaching help," Norway player Christoffer Svae said, "so now they are starting to get a grip of the game tactically. They are coming fast."

The turning point in the China-Britain game came in the eighth end when Murdoch was short with a routine draw to the button that would have earned his team a point. The Chinese stole a point, putting them ahead 5-3.

Britain scored two in the ninth but China had the hammer in the last end and Liu handled the pressure well in his last shot.

Murdoch is taking inspiration from the feats of Britain's best-known curler, Rhona Martin, whose team won women's gold in 2002 after coming through a tiebreaker with a 5-4 record.

"We are still in this," he said, "and a certain curler from GB won coming from this spot before."

Norway's players, who won a silver medal in Vancouver, watched the conclusion of the China-Britain game on TV. There was barely a reaction when Liu nailed his final shot, but there was relief inside Svae.

If Liu had have missed, Britain would have won and Norway would have been out.

"Right now, we are just happy we've got another chance," Svae said. "We will have to play better than we have done so far."

The tournament will lose some colour if Norway, famous for wearing flamboyant pants during games, loses the tiebreaker. Against Denmark, they donned pants described as "red and blue splash," but it was Denmark skip Rasmus Stjerne Hansen who stood out with 98 per cent accuracy stats.

"If we lose in the tiebreaker," Svae said, "we might have to dress up the Chinese."

Norway beat the British in the round robin but lost to them in last year's European championship.

Canada will play China in the semifinals and Sweden will take on the winner of the tie-breaker.

Also Monday, Germany lost 8-7 to Russia to finish in last place at 1-8. Switzerland won 6-3 against the United States.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Chief justices breakdown cameras in courtroom project

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A young gosling flaps his wings after taking a bath in the duck pond at St Vital Park Tuesday morning- - Day 21– June 12, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Goslings with some size head for cover Wednesday afternoon on Commerce Drive in Tuxedo Business Park - See Bryksa 30 Goose Challenge- Day 12- May 16, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What Western Conference teams will emerge from the first round of the NHL playoffs?

View Results

Ads by Google