25 Aug 2015 – 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 one round of games still to play in each of the two groups, Canada 2, Finland and New Zealand 2 will progress from Group B.
This morning the USA was on the ball early, scoring five in the first end against Australia 1, despite coming up just short with their final draw. The teams shook hands after six ends with the Americans ahead 11-1.
Japan and the USA have qualified from Group A, and any of the other four sides from the group can still claim the last playoff spot.
“We’re feeling good, getting used to the ice,” said Team USA’s Korey Dropkin. “We had a tough opening game but now we’re starting to make some shots and get into it.”
“And the new timing system took a bit of getting used to,” added playing partner Sarah Anderson. “But we’re more comfortable with that now.”
Canada 1 recorded their first success with a 7-3 win against New Zealand 1, and Japan’s third victory was 9-2 over the Czech Republic.
The midday round saw Australia 2 take their first win of the week, and in doing so inflicted the first loss on New Zealand 2. Matt Panoussi and Jennifer Westhagen scored three in the penultimate end to level the scores and then stole the last.
“Its nice to be on the board,” admitted Panoussi. “The difference was just making a few more shots, not half-shots. And calling the ice for Doubles is a bit different.”
Canada 2 were untroubled to beat China 9-3, and Finland’s second win was against the Koreans 10-2.
“We had never played Mixed Doubles as a team before, and it took a while to find our way and get our communication together,” explained Finland’s Katja Kiiskinen. “And we started to make more shots too, in this game I found my draw weight and Pauli (Jäämies) was really versatile with the middle stones, so it’s starting to get there.”
In the third round of the day 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 China side were 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 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 might have given us the shake-up we needed.”
The final group rounds take place early Wednesday, when the last qualifier will be found from Group A and the rankings confirmed. They will be followed by a tiebreaker if necessary and quarter-finals. Semi-finals and the medal matches will be held on Thursday.