Wednesday 8 March 2017
When Eunjung Kim, the skip of the Korean women’s team that qualified for CPT Women’s World Championships 2017 in Beijing, China won her Member Association’s berth at the Worlds, she told the World Curling Federation: “we have been waiting for this opportunity for a long time.”
The Koreans were anxious to qualify for the event, being held in the Capital Gymnasium between 18 and 26 March, because they’re hosting the Olympic Winter Games in 2018 and want to represent their country well.
For the 12 competing Member Associations, the road to qualify for the CPT World Women’s Curling Championship 2017 is not an easy one.
The race to qualify is tight in a pool of elite talent worldwide and it’s the kind reward that dominates the hopes of athletes in qualifying tournaments.
A team’s journey to qualify for the CPT World Women’s Curling Championship 2017 depends largely on where they come from. There are three zones globally — the Americas zone, the European zone and the Pacific-Asia zone. The Americas zone and the Pacific-Asia zone send two countries each year while eight teams attend from the European zone when the championships are held outside of Europe – as is the case in 2017.
China, this year’s hosts, were given a berth to the CPT Women’s World Championships 2017 as is customary for host nations.
China is part of the Pacific-Asia zone, therefore, their place at the Worlds left just one open spot for eight teams to vie for at the Pacific-Asia Curling Championships (PACC) in November 2016.
That’s why Kim, who skipped her team to a semi-final win over New Zealand to secure the spot, had a very big task in front of her.
“We want to show our best performance in the world championships in the coming session,” she told the World Curling Federation at the time of her win.
In Beijing, Korea will be represented by the same team that competed at PACC 2016 – skipped by Eunjung Kim - and China's team is almost the same, with Bingyu Wang still skipping, but with Rui Wang replacing Ying Yang.
In the Americas zone, typically teams are from USA and Canada. Canada won their spot to the 2017 event by placing higher than the USA at the Ford World Women’s Curling Championship 2016.
However, in January, USA women played and beat Brazil in a best-of-five competition to earn the second spot in the Americas Zone. This was the first time ever that Brazil women had made a challenge for the Worlds berth.
Subsequently, the team to represent Team USA in Beijing was decided based on a season-long points chase, won by skip Nina Roth’s team. Roth and her team went into the USA national championships, in February, as the top-ranked USA women’s team, at number 19, on the World Curling Tour Order of Merit. In order to earn enough points to qualify for the Worlds she had to reach the final of the nationals. She did this, and qualified, despite losing to Jamie Sinclair’s team in the final.
The eight European Member Associations, for the Worlds, are decided at the Le Gruyère AOP European Curling Championships each year.
Each year Member Associations hold their own championships (or playdowns) to determine the team they will send to the World Women’s Curling Championship. So, it is not always the case that the team that qualified the Member Association will be the team in attendance at the Worlds.
For example, the Canadian ensemble that placed higher than the USA in 2016 to earn a spot at the CPT Women’s World Championships 2017 is not the same team that will play in Beijing. Rachel Homan’s Ontario rink, won the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in February 2017 and will wear the Maple Leaf in Beijing.
Similarly, in Switzerland, Alina Paetz’s team, won their national championships on 18 February, beating the defending World champion team, lead by skip Binia Feltscher, in the final. Anna Sidorova won four games of six in the Russian qualifying event, against the European champion team skipped by Victoria Moiseeva, to book her team’s place at the women’s Worlds.
With the road to the CPT World Women’s Curling Championship 2017 being as competitive as it is, teams surely feel a sense of accomplishment just to qualify.