Naseby, 28 August – With three pool sessions still to play, Canada has already qualified for the playoff rounds at the Audi quattro Winter Games Mixed Doubles curling tournament in Naseby this week.
Team Canada’s Jennifer Jones and Brent Laing locked in their playoff spot with a 9-1 win against New Zealand 1’s Thivya Jeyaranjan and Brett Sargon this morning. Australia 1 beat Finland 9-8 when Lynn Hewitt drew her last stone into the house to score three in the final end.
“We’re really keen to do well here,” she said. “Not just for ourselves but for Australia curling. This is the first time in a really long while that we’ve had some help to get here, so we’d like to get a result to repay that. But you can’t think about the goal, the outcome or your opponents when you’re playing your shot – just hit the broom and throw the right weight.”
“It’s really great,” continued Dean Hewitt, Lynn’s son and playing partner. “Mum says this is her final international event, so it’s the last time we’ll curl together at this level. And we’ve been playing some really good games, so we’ll just try to keep it going as long as we can.”
In the same session New Zealand 3 recorded their first win, 8-4 over Australia 3.
When asked what brought about the change, Anton Hood replied, “We just came into the game with a positive attitude. And getting our hits spot on, yesterday we were just a little off. Sometimes it’s just millimetres that make the difference.”
“Getting that 4 in the first end was a great start,” added Holly Thompson. “It really settled our nerves and gave us confidence.
In the afternoon session USA continued their strong form with a 9-2 win against NZ 2, Japan edged out Australia 2 by 9-8 and the Italians handed Norway their first loss 8-6.
USA’s Korey Dropkin was pleased with their progress. “I think we’re doing fairly well now, we’re picking up our pace and adjusting to the ice a little bit better than we did early on. This is a great opportunity for us to get ourselves grounded for the season, get our dynamics and communication solidified for the World Cup next month.”
Asked about their goals, Sarah Anderson added, “Well, we want to have fun, we’re excited about the World Cup next month, and hopefully defend our title at US Nationals. I think this is a really good event. It attracts a lot of good teams, and is a really well run, professional event. It’s a great way to start our season, and it really is a highlight of our schedule.”
In yesterday evening’s draw there were wins for Scotland, 9-5 over Australia 1, Finland by 9-6 against New Zealand 3, and Australia 1 headed NZ 1 by 10-3.
For the Finns it was their first win of the tournament. “The first win is always good,” said Markku Uusipaavalniemi, an Olympic silver medallist in 2006. “I was disappointed with my own game in the first two, but today was ok – not so many mistakes. Our goal here was to just get our game together. It’s outside the season in Finland and we had a question mark over how we would go. But we just want to keep improving through the tournament.”
After nine sessions of play Canada lead Pool A with four wins from four, followed by Australia 1 and Scotland with three and NZ 1 with two. Norway and USA top Pool B with three wins, and hot on their heels are NZ 2, Italy and Japan on two wins each. The top three in each pool will qualify for the playoff rounds.
Pool play continues at Naseby’s Maniototo Ice rink until Wednesday afternoon. Quarterfinals are on Wednesday evening, and the medals decided on Thursday.