|Anne Shibuya (Brazil) at the 2018 World Mixed Championship. Photo © WCF / Jeffery Au|
18 Jan 2019 - Critical steals were the order of the day through the first round of the World Qualification Event 2019 in Naseby today.
Eight men’s and eight Women’s teams are contesting the final two available places in their respective World Curling Championships.
The Women’s teams were the first to take to the ice, where Brazil created their own piece of curling history with their first international win. They stole the last two ends to head Estonia 10-6.
Skip Anne Shibuya was understandably delighted. “I’m very, very proud of my team and the game we played was very good,” she said. “I was just expecting to play a competitive game and do our best.”
“The difference I think, we just kept our energy high, and played as a team. Everybody helped each other; we were all there to make each shot. We also needed to keep our cool, and keep the emotions down! It was very stressful.”
A steal of 3 points to Hungary in the ninth end of their game against Poland was enough for the Poles to offer handshakes at 11-5.
It was a similar outcome when China played New Zealand. Kiwi skip Bridget Becker found herself drawing against five Chinese counters with the last stone of the eighth end, and when she clipped a guard her team conceded at 12-5.
Hong Kong also stole the tenth end of their match with Finland to force an extra end, but they could not repeat the steal. Finland took the spoils 7-6.
Finnish skip Oona Kauste was relieved afterwards. “It was a pretty long game, went all the way to an extra end and fortunately I didn’t need to play my final stone,” she said. “But it was exciting! I think we played pretty well, but our opponent’s skip was really making all her shots. Every time we thought we were safe, she made some amazing shots.”
In the Men’s evening session the local interest was in the New Zealand – Australia clash.
The Kiwis didn’t disappoint their crowd. A tap-back in the seventh end to score 4 put them in control, and they sealed it with a take-out for another 4 in the ninth end for a 12-4 win.
Scott Becker was impressed with the performance from his side.
“I’d have to say that was the best executed first game from a New Zealand team than I’ve seen in a while,” he said. “Everyone was keen to make their shots, and the rough ones that they did throw were the ‘good miss’ where they’d still make half a shot, so very happy with how it went.”
“I put the good start down to the practice that they’ve been putting in, and it’s quite an experienced team. Anton [Hood] is only 19, but he’s just come back from a world tournament. That helps when you go into those final few ends, and you all know what you have to do. You could see that the determination was there.”
There were three other matches in the session. After a tight start Korea eased out to a 7-2 victory over Denmark, and a big steal for England in the ninth end helped them to force an extra end against the Netherlands. The English scored a single there to record a 9-8 win.
Brazil’s Men came desperately close to claiming their own piece of curling history, forcing a delicate gentle nudge from Poland’s last shot of the game for the Poles to squeak home 10-9.
“It was quite an emotional one,” said Poland’s Borys Jasiecki. “We were not at our best in terms of statistics, or the level of the game but we won, that’s the most important thing. We struggled a bit, I have a bit of a temperature and not feeling really well – that’s our problem. This is the first game, that always seems to be difficult for us so we are happy to have it behind us.”
The round-robin competition continues with three sessions each day until Tuesday. The top three Men’s and Women’s sides will play off for the two World Championship places next Wednesday.