24 Apr 2013 – The build-up to December's Winter Olympics qualifier for the New Zealand Men's curling team started in Japan last weekend at the Karuizawa International Championship.
Skip Peter de Boer described their fourth placing as "a slightly disappointing finish as we had every chance of winning the event. However we had 7 games against strong opposition giving us plenty to work on over the coming months."
The side's first competition game in five months was against Yosuke Morozumi's Japanese champions and Pacific-Asia silver medallists. On very quick ice at the new Karuizawa centre the Kiwi side lost a tight match 5-4 after an extra end.
They then hit their straps to reel off four consecutive wins to finish second in their pool and earn a quarter-final spot against Japan's Team Hayamizu, which they won comfortably 7-2.
Team New Zealand looked to be in control in their semi-final against the top Korean side of Chang-Min Kim until a pick-up in the seventh end saw Kim score three, and the Koreans then went on to win the game 7-6 in an extra end. That dropped them to the bronze medal match against Team Abe (Japan) and NZ played below their earlier form to go down 6-4.
Speaking after the tournament de Boer said, "We've had a great time at the opening of the most amazing purpose-built curling facility and had some close, hard fought matches. All in all, a really good start to our build up to the Olympic Qualifying Event in Fussen in December."