More on the line than medals for teams at world championships

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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MONCTON, N.B. - While Canada continues to dominate the Ford world men's curling championship, there are teams who see every game as a matter of survival as they attempt to claw their way into the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Olympic qualification on the world stage has never been a problem for Canada although this country's representative won't be decided until later this year.
But for others, how well they do here will determine if their country makes the top-10 according to the World Curling Federation and earn a trip to the Olympic games.
As it stands Canada, Germany, the United States, Scotland, France and Norway are safe. But others are on the bubble and still more hoping to gain enough points during the championship to make the cut.
Germany's Andy Kapp already knows he's qualified for the Olympics and his finish here is no big deal.
''We don't care. We have three or four big tournaments. We have the world championship, the Grand Slam in Toronto, the European Championship in Aberdeen and the Olympics,'' said Kapp.
''Every game on this championship ice is practice for us.''
Edmonton's Kevin Martin, who is guaranteed a spot in the Olympic trials, finds the selection process in other parts of the world fascinating to watch.
''One thing about the world (championship) is it's where everybody finishes,'' he said. ''It's huge. I don't think it matters to them if they play us or not. It's where they finish at the end of the week.
''There's a lot of different scenarios so it's pretty neat because they're all intense because they need to get all the wins possible for their countries standards in the world of curling.''
As it stands Sweden and Australia remain vulnerable since they do not have teams competing this year. China and Switzerland are also within the top-10 while on the outside looking in are Denmark and Finland. A good finish by either team could vault them into the Olympics.
''We need to pick up some more wins first and then we will see what the points are at the end of the week,'' said Finland's Kalle Kiiskinen, who is currently sitting last overall at the world championship. ''We have just a few more games to go.''
Finland won the Olympic silver medal in curling in 2006.
''I think we have to win at least two of our last three games,'' Kiiskinen said. ''It's quite a mess at the moment.''
Ralph Stoeckli of Switzerland has been given specific orders from his country.
''There is pressure and we have to finish top-eight to stay in the Olympic trials,'' he said. ''There are a lot of good teams out there, you can win and lose on any given day.
''It's our goal, it's our dream to be back at the Olympic Games and that's why we spend so much into that sport.''
Stoeckli said anything lower than eighth place and the Swiss government ''would have to have a discussion'' about whether to send a team to Vancouver.
''We really hope to avoid the talk,'' he said.
Canada as host country will receive automatic entry to the Olympics. The remaining nine places will be offered to the nine National Olympic Committees of the Member Associations of the World Curling Federation who have gained the most qualifying points from the World Curling Championships held in 2007, 2008, and 2009.
The points are awarded based on final rankings ranging from 14 for first place down to one point for 12th.

Organizations: World Curling Federation, Ford, Olympic Games

Geographic location: Canada, Germany, MONCTON Finland United States Scotland France Norway Switzerland Toronto Aberdeen Edmonton Sweden Australia China Denmark Vancouver

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