Chinese men set up gold medal chance at Curling World Cup in Beijing

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The last games of the group stage saw the hosting men's rink set up a chance to go for the gold, and mixed but promising results for the Chinese ladies at the Curling World Cup in Beijing on Saturday.

The Chinese men's team, skipped by Zou Qiang, booked their appearance in the final with a nail-biter of a 4-3 win over Matt Dunstone's Canadian squad.

It was a low-scoring game during the first two ends, which were marked by a succession of takeouts that left the house empty.

Canada drew first blood with a double in the third. Braeden Moskowy threw a hit-and-roll that forced the Chinese side to respond with a takeout at the button that left them exposed to Moskowy's second throw. The double-takeout needed from vice-skip Ba Dexin proved too hard a task. China got one Canadian stone out of the house but Dunstone threw a draw right into the button with ease to seal the first two points of the game.

At the start of the fourth end, lead Xu Jintao threw two front guards that left the Canadians just a bit too much space. While the Canadians were indeed able to get through with several draws at the button, a successful Ba Dexin hit-and-roll gave China its first crucial point in this highly defensive match-up.

Canada responded with a single of their own in the 5th end, but a double by China in the sixth set up a 3-3 tie that was anyone's game to lose.

With Canadians on the hammer in the 8th, Dunstone was unable to make the necessary promotion takeout to stop China from scoring a crucial point, delighting the crowd on their home ice and setting up a final against another Canadian squad skipped by Kevin Koe.

Vice-skip Ba said that the Chinese squad will draw lessons from the game.

"We managed to cut the deficit and seize our chance to win. We will analyze today's games; we won but we had mistakes, we need to make adjustments in the final. We feel we are much stronger physically and psychologically," Ba said.

Qiang, for his part, added that his team would use the final as a learning experience. "We will not think too much about the results in final. We will try to be students; the final will be a great lesson," said Qiang.

Earlier in the morning session, China's men had overcome a slow start to log a decisive 6-3 win over John Shuster's 2018 Olympic gold medal-winning U.S. squad. In the first two ends, China were throwing their guards a bit deep, and the Americans weren't leaving them enough space to get their draws in.

Things began to turn around for China just before the fourth end break. With China on the hammer, Schuster took out a crucial draw, but Chinese vice skipper Ba Dexin was able to respond with a beautiful throw to just outside the button to level the score at 2-2 at halftime.

From then on, momentum slid decisively to the side playing on home ice, with the Chinese men setting up impossible draws that the Americans were unable to put away.

"The US team are Olympic winners. We just played our way, and I would say that we won by deploying patience. We did well in the second half. We got good experience from this event. We feel well (with how we did)," Zou said when commenting on their performance after the game.

The Chinese women, skipped by Jiang Yilun, also managed a clear-cut win in the morning session, defeating team Jennifer Jones of Canada 7-4.

The opening end was a struggle for the Canadians, with lead Jill Officer sending a front guard just a bit too shy of the house and missing a draw completely, setting up an easy double for the Chinese squad.

It was a refrain that repeated itself twice in the game, with China getting two more doubles, in the third and sixth ends, and Canada retiring early after the 7th end.

"We won because we took it easy, and we are here to learn without so much focusing on wins or losses. We try to just be ourselves [and] seize every chance to win," Jiang said after the win.

"The World Cup gives us an opportunity to play with the big names, get helpful lessons, and our team can gain more chemistry for future games," she added.

The run of good form did not continue for team Jiang, who went down to Japan 7-2 in the evening session. China let several of their crucial guards miss completely, and were unable to get their draws at the button to stick because they were wide open for the Japanese to take out at will.

The noontime session saw a defeat for Chinese pairing Cao Chang/Yuan Mingjie, who went down at the hands of Americans Sarah Anderson/Korey Dropkin 7-5.

In the evening, team Sidorova of Russia crushed Sweden 8-3 to take the bronze. U.S. rink Nina Roth managed to stun Canadian team Jennifer Jones 6-5, but that result was not enough to propel them into the final. Jones' squad advanced on point difference, and will take on team Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland in tomorrow's final.

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