Kiwis claim their place in Winter Games playoffs

Brisget Becker and Sean Becker (New Zealand) at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2018
New Zealand's Bridget Becker and Sean Becker vs Norway. Photo © Iain McGregor / Winter Games NZ via AP

29 Aug 2018 – Canada and Norway claimed the top spots in their pools to qualify direct to tomorrow’s semi-finals in the Audi quattro Winter Games Mixed Doubles curling tournament in Naseby this week.

Scotland, New Zealand 2, USA and Australia 1 will contest the right to meet them in tonight’s quarter-finals.

Team Canada had secured the top spot in Pool A before last night’s penultimate round.

“Our form’s been not too bad,” said Canada’s Jenifer Jones. “We’ve had a couple of games where we haven’t been at our best so we’ll try and go a little bit better in the playoffs.”

Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2018

“Step one is qualifying,” commented Brent Laing. “Hopefully we’ll bring our ‘A’ game and get some breaks, and see how it goes.”

In last night’s Pool A round, Scotland qualified for a quarter-final when they beat New Zealand 3 by 7-6. Australia 1 took the pool’s remaining playoff in style, scoring a maximum six point end in their 14-3 win against Australia 3.

This is the first competition of the season for all of the northern hemisphere sides, and the Scots are pleased with their progress.

“We’re not far off,” said Fraser Kingan. “It feels like we’re gradually improving with every game. Just throwing the rock a lot better, and getting back into the groove.”

As the Pool B teams up for their final round, five of the six teams had a chance at qualification – and none of them had a guaranteed playoff spot.

The local New Zealand 2 side of Bridget and Sean Becker were the first to stake a claim, scoring the second six-pointer of the tournament on their way to a 10-3 win over Australia 2 in six ends. Norway followed suit and claimed top place in the pool when they beat Japan 12-3, and after a tight final match USA headed Italy 6-3.

Norway’s Magnus Ramsfjell was feeling confident. “This has been a good week for us after a long off-season,” he said. “Coming back on the ice and performing towards our best, I think. We’re feeling good, and will take some confidence into the semi-final definitely.”

“Even the game yesterday when we lost to Italy, it wasn’t a bad one our part – they just played so well and we got that loss out of the way before the playoffs. It sounds weird, but I think it’s helped us.”

In the quarterfinals at 7:00 pm tonight (Wednesday) at Naseby’s Maniototo Ice rink, Scotland will play New Zealand 2 while USA will take on Australia 1. The winners will face Canada or Norway in the semi-finals at 11:00 am tomorrow, and the medal matches start at 3:30 pm.

2018 WGNZ