Sunday, March 21, 2010

Initial Impressions from the 2010 Women's Worlds

Three things have struck me so far:
  1. What's with the team representing China? As of Sunday afternoon, they are 0-2, and the TSN announcers hinted that there is some dissension on the team. What on earth is going on with them?
  2. Watch out for the Swedish team, if not this year, then in the future. They looked impressive in their first few ends against Canada (admittedly the Jones rink was pretty bad then), and they substantially defeated Norway this afternoon. Given their youth and lack of experience at this level, I can readily imagine they will improve and be important contenders for quite some time to come.
  3. Team Canada looked horrible for its first few ends against Sweden. In particular, Jones and Overton-Clapham had extremely low curling percentages during the first few ends. But, as the TSN announcers suggested, they were likely a bit rusty, not having curled much lately. And yet the rust seemed to disappear fairly quickly.



At 3/22/2010 12:03 a.m., Blogger James said...

From NBC Sports Feb 23, 2010...

VANCOUVER (AP) -- Canadian-bred Chinese curling coach Dan Rafael is so furious with what he calls a lack of passion by his players he said he plans to quit coaching this group once his contract is up.

Rafael watched the reigning world champions lose 7-4 in a shortened nine-end match to Russia on Monday.

His hands trembling because he was so angry, Rafael suggested the team should be broken up after about seven years together.

"They have no passion for the game. It's their job. They just take everything for granted," Rafael said. "We didn't show up. You just have to look at the stats to know. We beat Canada, and we don't show up. They looked pretty amused. They think it's funny for whatever reason -- you're at the Olympics. I'm furious."

Rafael's remarks were news to the secretary general of the Chinese curling federation, Li Dongyan.

When approached by The Associated Press during China's men's match against the U.S., Li said he hadn't heard about what Rafael said. Rafael was sitting 10 feet away from Li during the game.

"I don't know. That's not a question I can answer," Li said when asked about Rafael's future as China's coach. "We don't discuss it."

Chinese skip Wang Bingyu also said she was upset about how her team performed on the heels of a huge win against Canada on Saturday that sent skip Cheryl Bernard's favored foursome to its first Olympic loss. The Chinese are 5-3 heading into their final match of round-robin play Tuesday against the United States.

"Of course us, too, are so, so angry with this game," Wang said.

Rafael was headed to a team meeting to discuss what went wrong.

"We've got to come out and play better than that last game," he said. "Everybody is catching up to us now."

Rafael also referenced speculation that some players might walk away from curling after the Olympics.

The Chinese team is made up of a former hockey player and three ex-speed skaters from Harbin. Wang, who goes by Betty, disagreed with her coach's take that she and her teammates don't care.

"Of course we love curling," she said. "Not many people know what's curling. We don't have a club, and we keep playing."

This isn't the first time Rafael has spoken out during the Vancouver Games. Before competition began he disagreed with China's decision not to make curlers available until after their first game.

Despite his comments, Rafael said he thinks the curling federation there will keep him through June 30 when his contract is up. Then, he said, he will likely look for coaching work elsewhere.

"What do you do? I'll keep coaching to June 30, 2010," he said. "It's their decision. It's their option. I don't see why they would get rid of me. I've proven what I can do."

At 3/22/2010 6:02 p.m., Blogger hooper said...

One observation I've seen: the youth-ification of women's competitive curling is a worldwide shift - not just Canadian. A part of it is due to the Olympic teams taking a break, but there are a lot of young teams out there. And as a bonus, they tend to be very photogenic, which means that curling, if smart, can ramp up the marketing. More Hammerfall-esque videos and so on.

At 3/23/2010 4:35 a.m., Blogger CaptHowdy said...

Apparently some dissension amongst Team China I've herd is that the others on the team are peeved that Wang gets all the celebrity status. Odd, don't they know what a skip is?


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