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Wednesday, 24 March 2010 08:39

China makes second home in Canada

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By Allison Werbowetsky
For Chinese skip Bingyu Wang, competing for a title at the 2010 Ford World Women’s Curling Championship in small-town Swift Current is nothing out of the ordinary.

Six months out of every year, Wang and her teammates train here on Canadian ice. Although they have spent a lot of time in Edmonton in the past, this year they traveled about 20 kilometres south to train in Leduc — an oil city similar in size to Swift Current — instead.

Wang didn’t comment on whether or not she liked training in a smaller, rural Canadian community like Leduc nor what it’s like to be away from home for six months at a time. It’s just part of the game, she said.

"It's hard to say. We don't have another choice, I don't think. We never go back to our home town. We're always traveling," Wang said.

When Wang and her team do go back to China, they are usually put up in Beijing. Their parents will often visit them there.

Wang’s hometown is the City of Harbin, located in the northern part of China. It is equivalent to Edmonton in size with nearly double the population. There is only one curling arena there and no other curling team for Wang’s rink to compete against for practise.

That’s why they’re shipped off to Alberta.

"Here (in Canada), there is so many great curlers and so many tournaments and so many curling rinks. We learn so many things from here," Wang said.

Listed as "curler" under the occupation section of the player profiles in this year’s Worlds program, Wang, third Yin Liu, second Qingshuang Yu and lead Yan Zhouin are full-time professionals at their sport.

On the other hand, teams such as Canada, Japan, Denmark and Germany all have full-time careers off the ice. Some people would consider them lucky to have the opportunity to curl all year round, however Wang admits sometimes it’s good to be able to do other things.

"I think other players think we are so lucky to do curling as our job, but not all the time is it good for us, I think, because we don't have another time to think in another way. Just curling. So maybe we need to look around and see the world's so big," she said.

It’s the sixth time competing in the world championships for the Wang rink this year, beginning in 2005 with a seventh place finish in Paisley, Scotland.

More recently, the foursome took home bronze at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and are the defending women’s world champions. The then 24-year-old Wang beat out former champion Anette Norberg of Sweden 8-6 for the win.

That win against Norberg — who is not playing again this year.— was the first world win ever for China.

Wang, now 25, Liu, 28, Yue, 24, and Zhou, 27, still have a long way to go and are already feeling the pressure of this competition.

"We are so young for curling so we need to work hard," she said.

Sitting in eighth place at three wins and four losses as of Tuesday afternoon, China will have to pick up steam to pull off another world championship win.

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