|Anton Hood at the 2019 World Junior B Championship. Photo © WCF / Alina Pavlyuchik|
14 Jan 2019 - The biggest international curling tournament ever held in New Zealand gets under way in Naseby, Central Otago this week, and the home teams are keen to make a statement.
The World Qualification Event, jointly hosted by New Zealand and Australian Curling, will run at Naseby's Maniototo Curling International rink from this Friday 18 January for six days.
It is a repechage to find the final two countries to compete at the 2019 Men's and Women's World Championships, with eight Men's and eight Women's teams from 13 countries taking part.
Naseby's Anton Hood will throw second stones for the Kiwi Men. He arrived home from Finland yesterday with a gold medal from the NZ Junior Men's first ever win at the World Junior B Championship.
"I can’t wait to get back on the ice!" he said. "The lads and I played out of our skin last week, and looking to carry on some last stone throwing form into the front end!"
NZ Men's skip Scott Becker was also feeling optimistic.
"The boys are all feeling good and throwing well," he said, "and we hope we can all pick up on Anton's energy and form. Of course, we'd love to finish in one of those top-two slots, but it is sport and it's all about how you perform on the day. We're just going to approach it one shot at a time."
Bridget Becker, NZ Women's skip, echoed Scott's sentiments. "We're excited to be part of this tournament," she said, "and looking forward to curling against some of the top teams in the world."
The NZ Men last reached a World Championship in 2012, when they finished 5th.
It would be a first for the Kiwi Women if they qualify from Naseby.
The eight Women's teams at the WQE are Brazil, China, Estonia, Finland, Hong Kong, Hungary, Poland, and hosts New Zealand.
The Men's sides are Brazil, Denmark, England, Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand (after their 4th placing at the Pacific-Asia Championships), Poland and joint hosts Australia.