The opening games of the QRC Winter Games NZ Mixed Doubles Curling Tournament fuelled by Forsyth Barr got under way in Naseby today, and the local sides were in action from the outset.
The New Zealand 2 side of Holly Thompson and Anton Hood faced Italy in the opening session, and the teams exchanged singles early. But the Kiwis took control when they scored three in the third end, and followed it up with a steal of one on their way to a crowd-pleasing 9-2 win.
“It felt really good,” said Anton Hood. “The ice was a little bit straighter than in training, but the surface was good. Italy played pretty well, but a couple of things just fell our way.”
Sweden looked strong as they ran the USA out of stones in the last end to win 7-4.
Sweden’s Robin Ahlberg commented after the match, “We had a few bad stones early on, but enough good ones to keep us alive. But yeah, from the third or fourth end we played really good. It felt good.”
Australia 2 and Japan were level going into the last end, but the Japanese duo held out to secure a 6-4 win. “We were really nervous,” said Misako Den. “But this win gives us more confidence.”
The afternoon session saw the first games for the other two New Zealand teams. Courtney Smith and Hamish Walker created opportunities for NZL3 but couldn’t capitalise on them, as they went down 9-1 to a sharp Korean side. Precision shotmaking from Finland allowed them to deny Jess and Ben Smith a comeback win for NZL1, the Finns recording an 8-6 win with the last stone of the match.
The standout performance of the afternoon session was from Australia 1, who beat Canada 11-3 in seven ends.
“We’re just loving the ice out there, it’s fantastic,” said Australia’s Dean Hewitt. “It gave lots of curl and the speed’s nice.”
“The first four ends were pretty tight, but the angles just worked in our favour for a couple of shots. We got a bit fortunate with that, and then Tahli (Gill) made a couple of great last shots that let us score multiples.”
Pool games continue until Friday, when the top three from each pool will qualify for playoffs. The medal games will be held on Saturday afternoon.