NZ to benefit from World Curling tournament shake-up

NZ vs China at the 2019 Pacific-Asia Championship
China beat NZ in the bronze medal match at the 2019 Pacific-Asia Championship. This year's event will be the last. Photo © WCF / Tom Rowland

15 Sep 2021 – "The biggest opportunity for New Zealand Men's and Women's national curling teams in years" is how Lorne DePape, one of two NZ representatives to the World Curling Federation, describes the introduction of the new Pan-Continental Curling Championship to the international calendar in the northern 2022-2023 season.

A minimum of five Men's and five Women's teams from this new event will qualify directly for their respective World Championships. It replaces the annual Pacific-Asia Championship that New Zealand currently plays in, and the annual Americas Challenge.

"The benefits for Kiwi curlers are huge," said DePape, a 2006 Winter Olympian and four-time winner of the former Pacific Championship with NZ sides.

"It means that if we're in the 'A' Division of the new PCCC we'll be playing Canada and the USA on an annual basis, as well as world-class China, Japan and Korea sides. The standard of play will be consistently high, and playing top teams is key to improving your own game."

"It's also a boost for the 'B' Division sides who will be playing their peers – there's annual promotion to the 'A' Division to aim for, and fewer lop-sided results than we sometimes see in the existing set-up."

International broadcasters in Asia and North America are already looking forward to the new event and the high-quality competition it will bring.

"Curling's exposure at the Winter Olympics is booming," DePape continued. "With the international interest this is already generating, we hope it can become a fixture on the local broadcasting calendar as well."

The Pan-Continental Championship was confirmed at the World Curing Federation's virtual Annual General Assembly last weekend. The inaugural event will be held in late 2022, with the venue and dates to be confirmed in the new year.

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