"Lucky" China begin Olympic curling qualification bid with win in Pilsen
Skip Wang Bingyu admitted it was only by luck that China opened their Olympic Qualification Event with victory after defeating hosts Czech Republic after an extra end in Pilsen.
The Czech rink had boasted the early lead with a 2-1 scoreline at the end of the third game, an advantage that only looked to be heading in one direction.
By the eighth end the lead had grown to four points, but a draw from Wang – a ten-time World Championship competitor – proved the start of the comeback.
Stealing a single in the ninth end and securing two more in the tenth saw China salvage the tie at 6-6, setting up an extra end.
And with the Czech team unable to move the China stone, Wang's rink emerged 7-6 winners in dramatic fashion – leaving the skip mightily relieved.
"This was our first game and we know the Czech Republic can play well," she said.
"We were a little lucky I think. We were nervous at the start but got our feeling towards the end. After the fifth end our whole team found our way.
"That will give us confidence, but it's just the start. We still have five round-robin games to play."
By the end of the week two more women's teams will secure their places at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, with Latvia also starting their campaign on the front foot.
That came thanks to a 10-5 victory over Germany, with a three-point fourth end making the difference in Pilsen.
Before then the two had been level at 2-2, but the Latvian lead came and grew as skip Iveta Stasa-Sarsune held her nerve to ensure the perfect start. The other match of the session saw Denmark get the better of Italy 7-4 despite the teams being locked together three times in the early stages.
But two points in the ninth end and a single-point steal after that saw Denmark prevail, running Italy out of the stones to secure the win.
"I was so nervous, we all were – this is a big thing, it was very up and down all the way – we had a good break and then they had a good break," said Danish skip Madeleine Dupont.
"It could have gone either way, but it's really great to win, now we need to win them all!"
Finland are the seventh and final team in the women's pool, receiving a bye in their first game as they prepare to take to the ice on Wednesday.