On November 3, the 2012 Yichun International Ladies Curling Competition gets underway in Yichun, China, and Canada’s Sherry Middaugh will be on the ice as one of eight women’s teams competing in the event.
Middaugh, Jo-Ann Rizzo, Lee Merklinger and Leigh Armstrong will be joined by National Team Coach Jim Waite as they compete against teams from USA, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, and China at the Yichun Curling Club. This is only the second year for this unique women’s curling event – Shannon Kleibrink, last year’s Canadian representative, was eliminated from the playoffs with a 3-4 record in the round robin. Denmark’s Madeleine Dupont went on to win the gold medal in an 11-4 win over Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni.
Waite has been working with the Middaugh team for the past year and a half as they undertake a grueling competition schedule in an effort to chalk up Canadian Team Ranking System points. Middaugh, who currently sits atop the CTRS standings, was chosen based on her team’s strong showing during the 2011-2012 season.
“There are no CTRS points for this event,” says Waite. “So the team is giving up a chance to increase its lead in the standings among Canadian teams in the race for spots in the Olympic Trials.”
Arriving four days before the first games on November 3, the Canadians will have a chance to explore Beijing and visit the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square. They’ll also have time to soak up some Chinese culture and acclimatize before making the two-hour flight to Yichun.
Although Middaugh and her team have spent the past two years focusing almost exclusively on the CRTS points race, Yichun is an opportunity to take a break from that goal – and pursue some others.
“I’ve never been to China, so I’m really looking forward to Beijing and touring the Great Wall,” she says about the pre-competition activities. “It can’t be all about Olympic points. It has to be fun, too.”
Other teams include Bingyu Wang (China), Allison Pottinger (USA), and Angelina Jensen (Denmark), as well as a local Yichun foursome, and a Chinese junior women’s team.
“We play a round robin and then finish with playoffs and a banquet before flying home on Thursday, November 8,” says Waite.
“There are no points for this event, but it’s such a great opportunity for us to see another culture, as well as play against some international teams,” says Middaugh. “It will be a great bonding experience for the team as well.”