Five of the six playoff qualifiers have been determined at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2015 Mixed Doubles Curling Tournament in Naseby, Central Otago.
With all regular pool games now completed, Finland, Canada 2, and New Zealand 2 will progress from Group B. Japan and the USA are through from Group A, and a tiebreaker this afternoon between New Zealand 1 and Canada 1 will confirm who will join them.
In yesterday afternoon’s round Japan withstood a fightback from Australia 1, scoring two points in the last end to hang on 8-5. The USA had a 7-4 win in the North American derby against Canada 1, and New Zealand 1 kept their playoff hopes alive with their second success, 9-3 over the Czech Republic.
The evening round saw the Chinese development team record their first win of the tournament with a 7-3 victory over Australia 2. The young Chinese side was delighted. “I have only been playing for two years, and my partner for one year,” said Ju Feijiaking. “This tournament has been excellent, we have learned a lot.”
Canada 2 suffered their first loss, beaten 8-6 in an extra end by Finland in a game where both sides had their share of fortune at different times. A Korean miss on an open hit against New Zealand 1 in the seventh end allowed the Kiwis an open draw to score three, and to secure the the buffer they needed for an eventual 8-6 win.
“We played a lot more consistently this evening,” said New Zealand’s Bridget Becker. “We didn’t have our best game against Australia earlier, they just outplayed us. But I think it might have given us the shake-up we needed.”
This morning the Group A teams played their last round robin matches. Australia stole doubles in the last two ends to beat China 8-5, and the New Zealand team were millimetres away from a difficult angled raise for a last stone win, but lost their encounter against USA 6-5.
Canada 1 finally found some of the form that earned them a World Championship semi-final in April, leaving group leaders Japan with no answer to an 11-0 scoreline after just six ends.
“We’re definitely playing a lot better in the second half of the tournament,” said Canada’s Charley Thomas. “We’re getting a better handle on the ice conditions, and putting rocks in better positions.”
The qualifiers from Group B were known before their last round, so the contest was for top spot and direct entry to the semi-finals. New Zealand 2 had the opportunity to secure that position but fell to Canada 2 in a high-scoring 10-9 game. Finland topped the group after beating China 11-2, and Australia 2 scored their second win, 7-5 against the Koreans.
This winner of this afternoon’s tiebreaker between New Zealand 1 and Canada 1 will be back on the ice in the evening quarter-final against Canada 2. The USA will play New Zealand 2 in the other quarter-final.
The pool winners, Japan and Finland, will play the quarter-final winners at 11:00 am tomorrow (Thursday) in the semi-finals. The gold and bronze matches will be streamed live on wintergamesnz.kiwi from 3:30 pm tomorrow afternoon.
Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2015 continues tomorrow (Thursday) with the final day of competition in the Games’ elite mixed doubles curling tournament at Maniototo International Curling Rink in Naseby, Central Otago. FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup Slopestyle qualifying takes place at Cardrona Alpine Resort near Wanaka. Full results are available on the event website www.wintergamesnz.kiwi. The two downtown Games Villages in Queenstown and Wanaka are open daily from 3pm with live music and DJs, medal ceremonies, the Adventure Film Festival presented by GoPro and aprÃ©s ski hospitality.