By Molly Bonner [click on images to increase size]
YICHUN, China – My apologies for the delay. After an eventful day full of travel and a busy, exciting ﬁrst day of practice the competition is about to begin… and we are back in action on the blog train!
adventure | ad
’ven ch ər; əd- |
• an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity
• daring and exciting activity calling for enterprise and enthusiasm
To say that Wednesday was an adventure would be an understatement, and then some. Our Beijing comrades were right: the weather can be very treacherous in a Yichun winter – so treacherous, in fact, that our ﬂight from Harbin to Yichun was cancelled. Oops.
After we debarked the plane in Harbin we were notiﬁed of the cancellation, and it was comforting to have familiar curling faces with us, knowing that we were all in the same boat (bus, in this case). Three of the international teams – Canada’s Shannon Kleibrink, Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg and Silvana Tirinzoni’s foursome from Switzerland were all aboard our Harbin ﬂight, along with Keith Wendorf and his wife, Susan – the World Curling Federation emissaries and official umpires of the event.
So there we sat in the “Flavor Tang” (the Chinese version of a food court), next to the Swiss team, passing time prior to the much-anticipated (sarcasm) six-hour bus ride on roads that are likely to be icy, dangerous, snow-covered etc… and they were.
After the two-hour wait in Harbin and some pre-boarding chaos, there we were: bus full, luggage that wouldn’t fit in storage piled in the middle walkway, some of us equipped with beer or chocolate to pass the time.
“You just can’t make this (stuff) up,” we kept thinking, as we finally got underway.
While some of us preferred to keep our eyes closed others stayed at the utmost attention, hoping for any sign of Yichun in the distance.
Our destination reminded me of a summer resort combined with an old planation in the southern United States, which made us all the more grateful to be “home” for the next week.
After our ﬁrst night’s rest and conversations with our translators, we learn of a Chinese belief: that sleeping on a very hard bed will keep women slim! Let’s just say that many of the competitors are expecting quick results after no less than seven nights of sleep in Yichun!
Thursday, finally, was our ﬁrst day seeing and curling inside the new venue – after all, the ice was created only a week ago. Each team was allotted two hour-long practices in preparation for the Friday morning start of competition.
Yichun – the “Forest City” – is considered a town or small city by the Chinese people. After all, there are “only” 1.3 million people here.
Speaking of million: a sports network (is it CCTV 5? – Ed.) will be broadcasting every draw of this event, and expects over four million viewers for the ﬁnal.
It’s fun to see all of the hard work that has gone into this event, and to think of the massive effort required to make Yichun become the curling capital of China. Watch this online video from Canada’s CTV (screen shot at left) for a report on just how big the sport investment is in this area.
The Chinese people are full of excitement and are showering the foreigners with assistance and gratitude. Our translators, Amy and Lily (English names of course) are true problem-solvers and go-getters, something that seems to be a common theme among the Chinese – they make things happen quick if a situation arises.
As Keith stated at the team meeting, it’s time to “christen the venue, make new friends, and enjoy the competition.” The spirit of curling is now alive and well here in Yichun.
Last night we sat with Team Canada at the “Welcome Reception.” It was a traditional Chinese meal in which all items are placed on a “Lazy Susan” and circled about the table… quite similar to what one might consider “family-style” dining back in North America.
A few of us American competitors were more adventurous than others (can you guess who wasn’t?) and a couple of those people are feeling a bit ill – be it the food, climate, jet lag or whatever.
Friday brings the Opening Ceremonies, for which the organizers held a two-hour practice session. It is sure to be a great show as local politicians and other dignitaries join us on stage.
Day one of the Yichun International Ladies Competition is next: and I can’t wait to play! Now to dream about things like pizza and chocolate as we go to rest on our “get-slim” mattresses. Cheers!