Should we really be surprised by the play of the Chinese curlers in Kelowna? To me, the only thing surprising is just how short a time it took for them to reach the world-class level. The fact they did it is not that shocking.
If you pour the resources, the time, the money into a program as the Chinese have done, then I think you can expect results. Don’t forget, the Chinese team does nothing but curl. They don’t have to work to put food on the table or pay the hotel bill at the next Tour stop. They are 100 per cent curling, 100 per cent of the time.
In some ways, it shows what an antiquated system we have in Canada where the curlers are, for the most part, left to their own until they become national champions. There is some funding from Sport Canada, obviously, and some sponsorship, but most try to juggle full or close to fulltime jobs which puts them at a disadvantage.
Canadian curlers are really the only athletes in an Olympic sport who do continue to work (there are others, I know, but I’m generalizing here). Think of the ski team which competes in Europe and North America. Erik Guay isn’t going back between races to put in a few hours at the Beer Store or the lawyer’s office.
Now I don’t think our system is terribly flawed by any means and I don’t think you’re seeing any kind of seismic shift here just yet that’s going to knock Canada or any other curling power off the top step. It’s more that China has joined the party in a legitimate way.