11 Apr 2013 – The pathway to 2014 Winter Olympic qualification has been confirmed for the New Zealand Men's Curling team. They will compete at an 8-team Olympic Qualifying Event event in Füssen, Germany in December, and the top two nations from that event will earn the final two berths at Sochi next year.
Ten teams will compete at the Winter Olympics in Sochi next February. The Russian hosts are automatic entrants, as are the seven teams with the most qualifying points from the 2012 and just-completed 2013 World Men's championships - Canada, Sweden, Scotland (for Great Britain), Norway, Denmark, China and Switzerland.
|2014 Winter Olympics Qualification|
| Q = qualified; QH = qualified as host
1. Great Britain points earned by Scotland
2. Russia qualify automatically as hosts
3. Korea played in 2011 WMCC
The other eight teams – including New Zealand – who competed at the World Championship in 2011, 2012 or 2013 are eligible for December's last-chance qualifying event. The Kiwis will be joined by USA, Czech Republic, France, Japan, Germany, Finland and Korea.
The eight points that went with NZ's best-ever 5th place in 2012 weren't quite enough after the side failed to qualify for this year's World Championship. Needing a top-two finish at last November's Pacific-Asia Championship, the side won just one game to finish a disappointing 6th.
New Zealand Team
The NZCA has confirmed that the team through to Sochi will be unchanged from the 2012 / 2013 side – Peter de Boer, Sean Becker, Scott Becker, Kenny Thomson and Phil Dowling.
Update 24 April – see NZCA statement re team selection below
Skip Peter de Boer was naturally disappointed with the Pacific-Asia result. "We just didn't quite fire when it counted," he said. "And of course it always seems that when you're a bit off then the 50/50 breaks that you sometimes need don't go your way either – the breaks that did seem to go in our favour a year earlier."
"We know we play against some very good teams here in the Pacific-Asia zone. They're getting plenty of strong competition – and good luck to them, they earned their success in Naseby. We had the opportunity to get some overseas competition (before the PACCs), but with our side having more family and work commitments and so on we opted not to. We believed the training schedule we worked through would meet our needs."
With the Olympics on the horizon the side believed that the best prospects for a New Zealand team to qualify lay with an extended build-up.
|Peter de Boer, Sean Becker, Scott Becker, Kenny Thomson and Phil Dowling at 2012 World Men's Championship|
"We felt that whichever side was selected would need to plan well ahead, build in as much foreign travel and competition play as possible, and give families and employers as much notice as possible of time off," said de Boer.
"So we wrote to the NZCA outlining these thoughts and suggesting that the selection process be moved forward. We did reference the small potential pool of possible team members (i.e. players able to throw at 80+% at international level) but left the selection process itself for the selectors and NZCA to determine."
"We were surprised at the decision not to run an open selection process, however delighted that the team had been selected and we were being given the opportunity to kick on towards – hopefully – Sochi. I am passionate about the concept of "team" in curling. It's one of the purest team sports in the world and I believe that changing dynamics at this point would not have improved NZ's chances.
"So we're going 'all-in' for a tilt at the Winter Olympics. We've got funding to ensure we get the high level competition on good ice we need, and we have to travel for that."
"We started with a team get-together in Auckland in March. As well as planning the year it was great fun, with a Blues win and some fishing thrown in."
"Some of us played in the Open Doubles in Naseby, and Kenny even managed to team up with Dobbie for a win! Our training and competition schedule is pretty much agreed for the year, starting this month at the Karuizawa International in Japan. Then we have the Nationals in July, Winter Games in August, probably a Canada trip before the November PACCs in China, and to Europe before the OQE in December."
"And – if all goes to plan – Sochi in February."
NZCA Statement re Open Men’s Team Selection 2013
20 April 2013
The NZCA Executive decided to endorse the Selectors' recommendation to retain the incumbent Men’s Open National Team for 2013 at the January meeting. While the departure from the usual selection process was expected to be somewhat controversial it was felt by the executive that the exceptional circumstances this year justified the decision. It was noted that not having the normal selection process this year could adversely impact on some players. This was seen as a short term situation which although not ideal should be tolerated in this instance.
In making the decision consideration was given to the team’s performance in 2012 where they gained 5th place in the World Championships and their potential to qualify for a place in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Other factors the Executive took into account included
- the investment made by Sport NZ in those Team members
- the development requirements for teams playing and competing at that level
- the deadline imposed by the NZ Olympic Committee to have the ‘Long list’ of competitors and officials for the Winter Olympics submitted by.
It was acknowledged by the Executive that this was a departure from the current annual selection process policy, however it was agreed that the situation involving this particular team warranted the decision.
It is also accepted that this has created something of a precedent and the Executive has agreed that in light of this decision it is appropriate to review the existing selection policy, which is currently only in draft form. The review will take account of the generally accepted ‘status quo’ and related expectations but will also need to provide for unique or exceptional situations which may arise in the future.