Young curlers take on the world
Auckland's best young curlers are hoping to make a clean sweep of the 2013 Pacific-Asia Junior Curling Championship as part of the national junior sides.
The competition kicks off today in Japan and will see the men take on China, while the women face off against Korea.
Teams from Australia, China, Japan, Korea and New Zealand will play a double round-robin until January 15.
The second and third qualifiers will then battle it out in the semi-final, with the winners meeting the top qualifier in the final on January 16.
The stakes are high, with the men's and women's gold medallists qualifying for the World Junior Championships in Russia in February.
Among the competitors is the junior women's side - the entire team hails from Auckland despite the region's lack of facilities.
Lineup changes see Ranfurly's Willie Miller skipping the men's side and Auckland Curling Club's Chelsea Farley skipping for the women.
Junior men's coach Liz Matthews says the competition is very tight but both teams are looking good.
''Traditionally the top countries have been China, Korea and Japan but our teams certainly have the ability to make the play-offs.''
Auckland Curling Club member and junior men's third Brett Sargon says the team are quietly confident about causing some upsets throughout the competition.
''We are relaxed yet focused. We expect the Asian teams to be very good but we believe in our own abilities.
''We believe that if we play to our potential, we could at least make it to the medal matches.''
Adjusting to the ice conditions at the Japanese curling rink is the biggest challenge for team members from Auckland.
Auckland curlers are forced to share the ice with ice skaters and ice hockey players or travel to Naseby in Central Otago to train on New Zealand's only dedicated indoor facilities.
''It is very quick here. The other countries have a great advantage having dedicated curling rinks closer to them and so we are always up against it,'' Sargon says.
Auckland City Harbour News