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中国将冬奥会奖牌希望寄托于冰壶

更新时间:2014-2-11 14:34:09 来源:华尔街日报中文网 作者:佚名

China Pins Olympic Medal Hopes on...Curling?
中国将冬奥会奖牌希望寄托于冰壶

One of China's greatest hopes for an Olympic medal at the Sochi Games lies once again in curling, the obscure pastime more associated with small Canadian and U.S. Midwestern towns than with Chinese mainstream sports.

The same Chinese women's curling team that won a bronze at Vancouver in 2010 is back, led by Wang Bingyu. Standing just 5-feet-5, the bespectacled Wang is an unlikely candidate for Olympic hero, looking more the part of graduate student than elite athlete. She came to the sport, popular among its North American participants for its lengthy post-game beer-drinking sessions, when her hockey-coach father concluded she was too small for hockey and suggested she try it out.

But while the Chinese team arrived in Vancouver as a team on the rise, the same quartet has meandered its way to Sochi.

Following their bronze medal, members of the Chinese team became national celebrities and were given a hero's welcome on their return to China. They peaked with a world championship title in 2009, but then slid during the following two seasons with middling tournament results and a fall in world rankings. A key factor in the decline: Liu Yin, the team's third (the teammate who throws the sixth and seventh of the 10 stones thrown in each end, or turn) left the team and the sport to get married and study in the U.S.

Her replacements never fit the bill, and the team dropped to as low as 11th in the 2012 World Championships in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.

With its spot in Sochi in jeopardy, the team called back Yiu, who Wang calls 'a sister,' and China hired a new coach to support its men's and women's teams, tapping three-time world champion and Canadian legend Marcel Rocque. Now a high-school culinary arts teacher in Edmonton, Rocque took a sabbatical to be part of the Olympic team.

The reunited Chinese women's team, coupled with their new coach, has yielded positive results so far, winning all seven of its matches at December's Olympic qualifying tournament in Fuessen, Germany.

'The team was in a slump coming into the (Olympic qualifying) tournament, but we never gave up and actually put up a pretty good show to qualify,' Wang told the China Daily in January. 'We are very, very happy to qualify...but we also feel very lucky.'

China's state-sponsored sports machine places a heavy focus on winning medals for national glory and has targeted its efforts on lesser-known sports (freestyle skiing and short-track speed-skating, to name a few). Though the tactic has helped it to dominate at the Summer Olympics, it hasn't yet been able to match those efforts in the Winter Games.

Count curling among the sports being given a state-sponsored boost--members of the women's team, unlike most top players from Canada and the U.S. who hold down part-time jobs, are full-time curlers. They train intensively during the winter months of the curling seasons at a club in Leduc, Alberta, a small, oil town in the middle of the Canadian prairies.

Curling is still a fringe sport in China, and the country didn't build its first curling facility until 2005. Even today, there are only four curling clubs. But the country is trying hard to promote the sport in its northeastern Heilongjiang province, where many of the country's Olympians, including Wang, hail from. Another medal would push the sport's development further.

China's journey to a podium finish starts Monday with a match against the powerhouse Canadian team at 6 p.m., Beijing time. The Chinese team held its first practice session Saturday and Wang, its leader, told China's state media she's ready. 'I like the sound of sliding and rocks hitting here,' she said.

If her team starts winning, so might the rest of China.

冰壶又一次成为中国最有希望在索契冬奥会上夺得奖牌的项目之一。相对于中国的主流体育运动,这项赛事并不引人注目,它与加拿大小镇和美国中西部村镇的关系更为密切。

由王冰玉率领的这支中国女子冰壶队曾于2010年在温哥华冬奥会上夺得铜牌,此次再度征战索契冬奥会。

身高约168厘米、戴着眼镜的王冰玉看起来更像是一个学生,而不是体育精英。王冰玉之所以从事冰壶运动,是因为当冰球教练的父亲认为她个子太小打不了冰球,因此建议她尝试冰壶。在北美,冰壶运动之所以受欢迎是因为参与者们赛后会喝很长时间的啤酒。

参加温哥华冬奥会时,中国女子冰壶队正处于上升阶段。现在同样的四个人又来到了索契,但是其间过程波折。

在温哥华冬奥会上获得铜牌后,中国女子冰壶队的队员成了国内名人,在回国时获得了英雄般的礼遇。这支队伍的巅峰是在2009年夺得了世界冠军。但在随后的两个赛季却一路下滑,锦标赛成绩平平,世界排名下降。其中的一个重要原因是队中的三垒柳荫一度退役结婚并到美国读书。

接替柳荫的队员没能挑起这个担子,中国女子冰壶队在2012年加拿大莱斯布里奇世界锦标赛上的名次跌至第11位。

由于进军索契冬奥会的前景不乐观,中国队召回了被王冰玉称为“老大姐”的柳荫,还聘请了一位新主帅来执教男队和女队,他就是三次登上过男子冰壶世锦赛冠军领奖台的加拿大传奇人物马萨尔•罗克(Marcel Rocque)。退役后,罗克成为了加拿大埃德蒙顿的一位高中冰壶老师,他在休假期间赴中国队执教。

重新集结后的中国女队在新主教练的带领下取得了不俗的成绩,在去年12月德国福森(Fuessen)举行的索契冬奥会冰壶落选赛中七战全胜,取得了冬奥会的参赛门票。

王冰玉1月份接受《中国日报》(China Daily)采访时说,落选赛前中国女队的状态很不好,但是我们从未放弃,在落选赛中我们实际上表现得非常好。她说,我们很高兴搭上了奥运末班车,我们感到非常幸运。

由国家资助的中国体育运动队一直把拿奖牌、为国争光放在很重的位置,并一直努力提高在知名度不高项目(比如自由式滑雪、短道速滑)上的成绩。这一策略帮助中国队在夏季奥运会上取得了骄人的成绩,但在冬奥会上还未见到同样成果。

在中国,冰壶也是受到国家资助的体育项目之一。中国冰壶女队的选手都是全职运动员,不像加拿大、美国的顶级选手那样只是兼职参加比赛。在冬季冰壶赛季,她们会来到加拿大艾伯塔省的小城、石油重镇勒杜克(Leduc)一家俱乐部进行密集训练。

冰壶在中国依旧是一个新兴的体育项目,直到2005年中国才兴建了第一个冰壶馆。就算是到了今天,中国的冰壶俱乐部也只有四个。但是中国正下大力气在黑龙江省发展这项运动,王冰玉等许多冬奥会的参赛选手都来自这个东北省份。如果能在索契再度夺得奖牌,冰壶运动在中国的发展速度将进一步加快。

中国冰壶女队在索契冬奥会的首秀在北京时间周一下午6点进行,对手是实力强劲的加拿大队。上周六中国队进行了首次训练,队长王冰玉向中国国有媒体表示她已经做好了准备。王冰玉说,我喜欢听到冰壶滑行和撞击的声音。

如果冰壶队开始取胜,那么中国的其他参赛选手或许也会。

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