WCF Photo by Andrew Klaver

     

China takes out Danish men at World Juniors

Two teams adjust lineups with mixed results

 

 

March 6, 2009

 

VANCOUVER – China’s Jialiang Zang won his second straight game, 7-4 over Denmark’s highly-touted Rasmus Stjerne to climb to 2-2 at the 2009 World Junior Curling Championships.

 

The key ends were the fourth and seventh. In both ends China stole a point after previously scoring two, and Stjerne released a series of howls at the at the Vancouver Olympic Centre ceiling after narrowly missing his last shot of the seventh.

 

“They (China) are really good,” Stjerne said after the game.

 

“We always knew they had great players but now they know the game so much better, and they’ve improved technically, too.

 

“I think the skip plays on the men’s team, so he is their leader.”

 

Indeed, Zang throws lead for skip Fengchun Wang on the Chinese national men’s team. That squad shocked the world last April by beating Canada’s Kevin Martin at the 2008 Worlds in Grand Forks, and finished just off the podium in fourth place at their world championship debut.

 

Zang, whose English nickname is Scotty, arrived in Vancouver after the men’s team won the bronze medal at the 24th Winter Universiade, or World University Games, held in his hometown of Harbin.

 

“There was a lot of pressure in Harbin, from everywhere,” Zang said through an interpreter.

 

“Pressure from our families, our parents, the spectators, and the sport federation. We tried to do our best to control our thoughts and focus on our technique, our playing.”

 

As a result of the hectic men’s team schedule, Zang has only enjoyed 10 days of practice with his junior team prior to the start of the World Juniors.

 

“We hadn’t thrown any rocks (together) in two weeks,” said Zang, shaking his head.

 

Meanwhile, Russia’s Andrey Drozdov defeated Scotland’s Graeme Black 9-5 on the strength of five points scored over the third and fourth ends, plus a three-count in the eighth. The Scots brought in alternate Glen Muirhead – the brother of Scottish women’s skip Eve Muirhead – to play third, but the manoeuvre failed as Scotland dropped to 1-3, along with Russia.

 

In another match, Switzerland elevated alternate Roger Meier to skip position and the move paid off, as Meier fired an 86 in shooting percentage in an 8-3 victory over Germany’s Konstantin Kaempf.

 

In the remaining men’s game from session five, defending champion Chris Plys of the United States fought back from a 5-1 deficit to tie his game with Sweden’s Oskar Eriksson, but couldn’t steal the final end and lost 6-5.

 

The game was a rematch of last year’s gold medal championship, in which Plys defeated Eriksson, who now throws third stones, by a 7-5 score.