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As of February 16, 2010, 9:00AM

United States – Gold: 2; Silver: 2; Bronze: 4

Germany – Gold: 1; Silver: 3; Bronze: 1

France – Gold: 2; Silver: 0; Bronze: 2

Canada – Gold: 1; Silver: 2; Bronze: 1

Olympic curlers ready to hit the ice

VANCOUVER (AFP) China’s world champion skip Wang Bingyu, affectionately known as “Betty”, aims to make a name for herself by adding Olympic curling gold to the world title she has already captured.

Wang’s team of four have been together since 2003 and that consistency paid off with a runners-up place at the 2008 worlds before they stormed to the 2009 title.

Wang was introduced to curling by her ice hockey-playing father in her hometown of Harbin, taking up the sport about nine years ago.

Chinese women’s national team coach Dan Rafael, from Canada, puts China’s success down to a single-minded focus on technique.

“When I first met them, in 2007, their practice schedule was three hours a day of throwing and throwing and throwing. It wasn’t even game-situation shots. It was just sliding rocks, working on their releases,” he said ahead of Tuesday’s opening day.

“What they asked me about most was strategy. They were convinced I had a magical curling book.”

Canada, the 1998 champions, will be skipped by Cheryl Bernard, 42, while Switzerland can also boast an experienced leader in 38-year-old Mirjam Ott, the only curler at these Games, and the only woman in history, with multiple Olympic medals.

Sweden’s skip Anette Norberg , 43, is the defending champion while many eyes will be on Britain’s teenage skip Eve Muirhead.

On home ice in Vancouver, Canada’s men will be pushed by Britain to defend their title.

The host nation will face a British team skipped by world champion David Murdoch who is relishing playing in a country renowned for its love of the sport.

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