China stun Dunstone to set up Koe final in dramatic fashion
An enthralling day four will live long in the memory of curling fans.
Against all odds, Team Zou Qiang of China qualified for the Curling World Cup showpiece after snatching victory from the jaws of defeat against Team Matt Dunstone in front of a packed home crowd in Beijing.
The Chinese quartet had earlier defeated the Olympic champions Team John Shuster to set up a mouth-watering third session on day four.
Needing to beat Dunstone’s rink in their final game, as well as Sweden to lose, Qiang and co stole one in the eighth end to register a sensational win and send the patriotic Shougang Arena into bedlam.
“We always had hope,” said China’s national coach Mike Harris. “After we got off to a good start beating Sweden we kept calm and did a really job to stay within themselves. They have done a really great job.
“I didn’t say anything to the team about scenarios until the sixth end. Once Canada blanked the seventh end, we knew we had to steal. I’m just really proud how they handled themselves and made the shots.
“If you had told them two weeks ago they would be in the final, they would need convincing. The crowd were fantastic at the end.”
Canada’s Team Kevin Koe produced a flawless display in the last day of round-robin action to seal a gold-medal berth with two wins over Team Thomas Ulsrud and Team Ross Paterson, defeating their Group B rivals 4-3 and 7-6 respectively.
The Suzhou leg winners knew they had to claim victories in both their day four encounters and did just so, reaching the inaugural Grand Final championship match.
“It’s been a grind this week. Obviously we’ve had good and bad games, which has been the case all year. We’re really happy.
“[Playing the hosts in the final] It’s great for China and their country, as well as curling. They are playing well with such a tough pool and they beat everybody in it.
”It will be a really nice to finish the year with a massive win. If we get off to a good start through four, I really like our chances of making the key shots. The Curling World Cup has been awesome with great fields, venues and lots of money.
It was heartbreak for Team Ross Paterson, who have fought valiantly both in Beijing and Jonkoping but fell short again. The Scottish foursome did claim victory earlier in the day, defeating Switzerland 7-2.
Reflecting on their week in Beijing, Paterson said: "We knew we had a tough group at the start of the week but believed we could get to the final so to not get over the line is tough and we'll learn from it.
"We've loved our Curling World Cup experiences this year and will look forward to be being back next season and look to get over the line next time."
Going into day four, Niklas Edin and his team had the destiny in their own hands but were defeated by Dunstone’s rink in a tight-scoring game which ended 4-3.
It was an emotional day as Thomas Ulsrud, Christoffer Svae, Torger Nervaard and Haavard Petersson – Team Ulsrud – said goodbye to the curling world.
After losing to Team Koe in the morning, the Norwegians faced Switzerland in their final game. A tribute package was displayed on the big screen which brought the crowd to their feet.
It appeared to do the trick as they thrashed Switzerland 8-2 and were able to walk off the ice for the last time as a winning rink.