|Team China after their playoff win to qualify for the LGT World Women's Curling Championship 2019. Photo © WCF / Clare Toia-Bailey|
23 Jan 2019 – China and Finland claimed the final two places at the LGT Women’s World Curling Championship 2019 when they won their playoff games at the World Qualification Event in Naseby today.
At the same time, Korea and the Netherlands earned their entry for the Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Championship 2019.
Eight teams of each gender had started the 6-day tournament, and when the round robin ended yesterday the top three from each had qualified for today’s two playoff sessions.
Top qualifiers Finland met China in the first Women’s playoff.
It was tight throughout, with never more than a point between the sides. China claimed a 4-3 win when their skip Jei Mei drew her final stone in to beat two Finnish counters.
She was delighted after the game. “We are very happy now,” she said. “We played well throughout this week, and now we have won. We have qualified for the Worlds, so this is going to be a new period for us. First of all, we would like to relax for a little bit and then practise. We just want to enjoy every day in curling and fight for awards.”
The Men’s first playoff game was between Korea and England, the top two qualifiers. Korea led throughout, scoring 3 in the first end and doing the same in the sixth. The English shook hands after eight ends with the score at 7-3.
“I’m so happy that we’re now going to the World Curling Championship, and going to Canada,“ said Korea’s skip SooHyuk Kim. “Our performance in this event was not bad, but the team will now re-group and keep trying, to get ready for the Worlds.”
England, losers of the first playoff game, had a second life and met the Netherlands in the afternoon’s second, sudden-death playoff round. A score of 3 points in the fourth end allowed the Netherlands to manage the rest of the game, and they beat a brave English side 8-5.
Jaap Van Dorp, the Netherlands skip commented, "We felt like we were in control in that game, but we still had to be on our toes. We’ve been growing in the tournament. It’s amazing to get to the worlds, we’re going to go to the worlds to show that we can compete there too. It’ll be good to show how good we’re becoming. We’re absolutely looking forward to it."
Finland played Hungary for the final place at the Women’s World Championship. Oona Kauste’s Finns were too accurate and applied too much pressure, stealing five ends on their way to an 8-1 win.
"It was a really good game against China this morning," said Kauste. "We just had a little bit of bad luck, but they played well and deserved to win. After that game, I knew we could make it with our second chance. That was a good game for us, we played really well. Now it feels amazing, I don’t have words. This was a big dream to qualify."
The LGT World Women’s Curling Championship 2019 will take place in Silkeborg, Denmark from 16 to 24 March. The Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Curling Championship 2019 will be held in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada from 30 March to 7 April.
Neither event will have a New Zealand side competing. The NZ Men finished fourth in the round robin at this event, so just missed the playoffs. The Kiwi Women finished eighth.