Chinese rink wins Estevan world tour curling stop

Josh Lewis / Estevan Mercury
December 4, 2013 01:00 AM

Liu Rui delivers a stone during the sixth end of the Weatherford Curling Classic final on Sunday.

Top rinks from across Saskatchewan and beyond came to the Power Dodge Curling Centre on the weekend for the Weatherford Curling Classic, a stop on the Asham World Curling Tour.

Liu Rui of China defeated Bruce Korte of Saskatoon 5-2 in the tournament final on Sunday.

Liu's rink, which hails from Harbin, will represent China at the Sochi Olympics next year and was the lone team from outside Canada.

The foursome also includes Jialiang Zang (third), Xiaoming Xu (second) and Dexin Ba (lead). They lost only one game in the spiel.

"The way our team works, every year (we) come (to) Canada for training, games tournaments (to get better)," said coach Hong Chen Li.

The team also receives instruction from former Randy Ferbey lead Marcel Rocque, who is now a coach with the Chinese national program.

The Liu rink has seven or eight tournaments on its schedule for this season and has already played the likes of Glenn Howard, Kevin Martin, Mike McEwen and Kevin Koe, Li said.

The turning point in Sunday's final may well have been the sixth end, which saw the only deuce of the game.

Korte's third, Dean Kleiter, made a triple takeout to mostly clear the house, but Korte later wrecked on a guard during a takeout attempt on his last shot, allowing Liu to draw for two. That gave the Chinese side a 4-1 lead.

Korte only managed a single with the hammer in the seventh end, which put him in tough in the eighth.

With his last shot, Korte attempted a thin double, but he only got one, leaving Liu with shot rock. Liu did not throw his last stone.

Li said patience and playing their own strategy were keys to the victory.

"(We had) lots of talking, lots of communication."

Li said he felt "the other teams were also strong" and that "the ice was a little bit straight."

With 16 teams and a total purse of $32,000, the tournament used a triple-knockout format, with eight teams from the A, B and C draws advancing to the playoffs.

Liu defeated Scott Manners of North Battleford, a former provincial Tankard champion, 5-4 in one semifinal. Korte knocked off Brandon's Steve Irwin 5-4 in the other, stealing a point in an extra end.

The other playoff rinks were Randy Woytowich of Saskatoon, Joel Jordison of Moose Jaw, Scott Bitz of Regina and Josh Heidt of Kerrobert.

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