The USA will play Canada 1 for the gold medal in the final of the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2015 Mixed Doubles Curling Tournament in Naseby, New Zealand later today while Japan and Finland will contest the bronze medal.
The Japanese side went into this morning’s semi-finals at Maniototo Curling International Rink hoping to put the memory of yesterday’s one-sided 11-0 loss to Canada 1 behind them and today’s contest proved to be much closer.
Japan was eyeing a second consecutive steal in the fourth end before an upweight hit from Canada’s Charley Thomas cleared two Japanese stones lying either side of the button. The scores were level at 5-5 after five ends, but Canada made the decisive break in the next with a score of three, and they eventually ran Japan out of stones in the last end to win 9-5.
“I think we’re ready for the next one,” Thomas said after the game. “We’ve got a much better grasp on the ice conditions. We made a good start in the semi with three in the first, struggled a bit for a while but then came OK again.”
USA broke open their semi-final against Finland when Sarah Anderson chipped out an opposition stone sitting as second shot, giving USA a score of four points. There was some outstanding shot-making from both sides but the Americans finished it off in style with a double takeout from Korey Dropkin, followed a couple of shots later by Sarah Anderson chipping a Finnish stone off the button to score another four and give the USA the win 10-4.
“That was a great game” commented Dropkin as the teams came off the ice. “We’re feeling pretty confident going into the final so hope we have a good game there. Sarah made a great peel out at the end so that was a good way to finish off.”
The knockout stage of the tournament started on Wednesday afternoon with a tiebreaker between Canada 1 and New Zealand 1. The young Kiwi side stole the first three ends, but Canada came back and eventually scored the single they needed in the last end – but not before a nervous moment as their last-stone hit jammed and the New Zealand rock rolled just far enough for the Canadian stone to count.
“It gives us a lot of confidence to take two top sides so close today, and we’re pretty happy with how we played,” said New Zealand’s Brett Sargon. “But we’re still a bit disappointed that we couldn’t get one of those games over the line.”
The two Canadian sides faced off in one of the evening quarter-finals. The 2015 Canadian champions, Charley Thomas and Kalynn Park, struggled early against 2014 champions Wayne and Kim Tuck. Canada 1’s Thomas used his precision hitting at crucial moments to help his side to a 6-2 win.
Team USA faced the local favourites, the New Zealand 2 side of Bridget and Scott Becker in the other quarter-final. The Americans were ahead 7-1 at the fourth end break and the Kiwis shook hands at 10-4 after seven ends.
The 3:30pm final will be live streamed at www.wintergamesnz.kiwi.
Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2015 continues tomorrow (Friday) with qualifying for the FIS Snowboard World Cup Halfpipe at Cardrona Alpine Resort and the FIS Cross-Country Skiing ANC Sprint Classic race at Snow Farm NZ near Wanaka. Start lists and results are available on the event website www.wintergamesnz.kiwi. In Queenstown, local ice hockey team Southern Stampede play a one-off match against NZ Ice Blacks. 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.