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New Zealand, Japan and Korea qualify in Men’s Curling

  • August 22, 2013

Last night’s eighth round at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ Men’s curling tournament saw the three playoff spots decided with two full rounds still to play.

The three nations in the field who will participate in December’s 8-team Olympic Qualifying event – Japan, Korea and New Zealand – will fill the top three places. The last two rounds will determine the final rankings.

In last night’s round, the accuracy of Team Korea saw them account for New Zealand 5-2 while Australia controlled the second half of their game against NZ “A” to win 8-3.

Japan made their intention clear from the outset against China when skip Yusuke Morozumi nailed an angled raise takeout to score 3 in the first end, and went on to take a 7-5 victory.

After losing two of their first three matches, Japan are the form side with six straight wins. When asked what he attributed his side’s improvement to, Morozumi’s answer was simple. “Just practice,” he said. “We have practiced every evening after our games – practiced our shots and got used to the ice.”

The three leading sides had comfortable wins in this morning’s ninth round – Korea beat New Zealand “A” 8-2, New Zealand had the better of China 9-3, and Japan had an 8-3 win over Australia.

The final round this evening will confirm the rankings. Japan have the best draw shot distance, used to rank teams with the same number of wins, and are odds-on to fill the top spot and qualify directly for the final. If that eventuates, it will be Korea and New Zealand who will play the sole semi-final to find their opponent.

At the start of this afternoon’s last Mixed Doubles round, Australia and China were already confirmed as semi-finalists. Both were beaten today. England upset Australia 6-4 to record their second win, and New Zealand “A” beat China 6-5 on the last stone to secure the third semi-final place.

Sean Becker, speaking for NZ “A”, said that he and his sister and playing partner Bridget were looking forward to the playoffs. “With the little practice that we had leading into this we’re quite pleased to still be in it, we’ll just enjoy the fact that we’re playing tomorrow.”

That left the remaining place to go to the winner of Japan’s game against New Zealand, and in another last-stone decider New Zealand scored the single shot they needed by millimetres to win 5-4.

“That was a real tight game,” said New Zealand’s Hans Frauenlob. “Both sides played really well, and it came down to us needing to draw to the button and hope to steal for the win. Nat (Campbell) was great, she made some big shots in the second half of the game.”

The last preliminary round of the Men’s Curling at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ will be this evening (Thursday) at Naseby’s Maniototo Curling International rink. Semi-finals and the medal games in both Men’s and Mixed Doubles will be played tomorrow (Friday).