China stun world champions Edin to close out epic opening day
Terrific wins for Switzerland, Scotland and United States on day one in the men's draw.
China’s Team Zou Qiang produced one of the performances of the Curling World Cup season so far as they defeated recently crowned world champions, Team Niklas Edin, on day one of the Grand Final in Beijing.
The two teams went toe-to-toe throughout the eight ends, rarely offering an inch to their opponent but when the Chinese quartet limited the Swedes to just one point in the penultimate end, an opportunity to cause an upset arose.
Zou Qiang’s final shot secured the win and the home crowd responded with tremendous applause to one of their own inside the Shougang Arena.
“It’s a unbelievable start with the new line-up, and we’ve got good communication with each other," said skip Qiang.
"They [Sweden] are a best team in the world and this game was really tough, so we’re just happy with our first win in the strong field."
On a scintillating night of action between eight men’s teams, the drama did not stop there. Suzhou winners Team Kevin Koe struggled to find their best form on the opening day and were made to pay by a clinical Team Yannick Schwaller performance.
The Swiss rink made life difficult for the Canadians, causing skip Koe to make a couple of rare mistakes including a chance to score two in the sixth end, which proved costly as Team Schwaller won 6-2.
Scotland’s Team Ross Paterson, who were unfortunate not to reach the final in Jonkoping, looked in remarkable touch in Beijing as they defeated Team Thomas Ulsrud 9-5, as they aim to make their own mark on the Curling World Cup once more.
In a back-and-forth encounter, Paterson’s unit had to dig deep but a flawless final three ends from the Scotsmen - where they conceded zero points - ensured a first win.
“We talked a lot about starting sharp and we did that with our early lead. Maybe a couple of wrong calls in ends four and five put us under pressure and let them back into the game," said Paterson. "We regrouped and after the sixth end, we did really well.
"We would have been disappointed if we let it slip away. These guys have been around for so long and achieved everything. I think it is important for us as a team to put our stamp down and win games like this."
In a battle of the North American teams - and two leg winners - Olympic champions Team John Shuster edged out Canada’s Team Matt Dunstone via a shoot-out.
Despite being in control most of the game, Shuster’s foursome gave up a steal of three to Dunstone in the sixth, providing an opportunity to a comeback win before prevailing in the shoot-out.