Kiwis just fall short at World Junior B

2018wjbcc 071 bm v nor courtney emma
Courtney Smith and Emma Sutherland in the bronze medal game vs Norway. Photo © WCF / Janne Ojanperä

11 Jan 2018 – The ultimate goal for New Zealand’s teams at the World Junior B Championships in Finland this week was to medal and so earn entry to the main event, the World Junior Championships 2018.

Although both sides narrowly missed out on achieving that goal, they are upbeat about their improvement and looking forward to going a step further next year.

The NZ Women – Jessica Smith, Holly Thompson, Emma Sutherland, Courtney Smith and Mhairi-Bronté Duncan, with coach Nelson Ede – came desperately close.

After finishing second in their pool with a 5-2 win-loss record they beat Italy 7-4 in their quarterfinal to earn a semi-final against China.

2018 WJBCC logo

The Chinese won this 4-1, leaving the Kiwis to play off with Norway for the crucial bronze medal. Norway held on to an early lead to take the match 5-4.

"Although we didn't get the result we were hoping for, we are still very proud of our achievement," said skip Jessica Smith. "We were almost last in our pool last year, so to make it all the way into the final for bronze was amazing."

"I'm very proud of the girls who all played their absolute best and kept their heads held high. It’s exciting to think where another year of training could get us. We would like to thank our coach Nelson Ede for all the time and work he has spent getting us to where we are today; we’re very grateful."

"Also thank you to everyone who has followed our journey and supported us with all the kind messages; we really appreciate it," she added.

The New Zealand Men – Simon Neilson, Matthew Neilson, Ben Smith, Hamish Walker and Anton Hood, with coach Peter Becker – finished equal third in their pool with Turkey and the Netherlands.

Skip Simon Neilson explains, "Due to having the best last stone draw average out of all of the men's teams we placed above these 2 sides and earned our spot straight into the quarter finals. Russia were a very strong team who went on to take silver – they didn't give us many chances and we went down 7-4."

Neilson was also full of praise for his team and their future prospects.

"As my last year as an Under 21 rep I am over the moon with how my team have performed this tournament and could not have dreamed of a better bunch of lads to carry my stone to the house when it's light.. We climbed from 16th place last year to 5th this year; we have had our taste at playoffs and I know the boys will come back firing next year."

National Coach Peter de Boer was also impressed with both sides' performance. "Our teams leave Finland with their heads held high after challenging well in every game they played," he said. "The players and coaches should be rightfully proud of what they have achieved and the progress they are making!"

The next chance for New Zealand's young curlers to impress on the international stage will be at this tournament in 12 months' time. It will be held at the same venue, the Kisakallio Sports Institute in Lohja, Finland.

Junior Women qualify for Playoffs

Holly Thompson, NZ v Austria
NZ vice-skip Holly Thompson in the house vs Austria. Photo © Madara Bremane

9 Jan 2018 – New Zealand's Under-21 Women are into the playoff rounds at the World Junior B Championships in Lohja, Finland.

They won their last preliminary game against Kazakhstan overnight to secure second spot in Pool C, and to set up a quarterfinal against Italy starting at 1:00 am tomorrow (Wednesday) morning NZ time.

"We're very happy with how we have gone so far," said skip Jessica Smith. "We just need to take each game as it comes and play to the best of our abilities."

"We're excited for the game ahead of us, and very grateful for all the support from home."

The Junior Men can also guarantee themselves a place in the knockout rounds with a win in their final Pool B match against Hungary, starting at 8:00 pm tonight NZ time. The side has already secured the best DSC (Draw Shot Challenge) in the pool, and this could help their cause even if they drop the game and other last-round results work in their favour.

The Men's Quarterfinals follow the Women's. Semifinals and the medal games are scheduled for Wednesday night NZT.

All medallists qualify for March's World Junior Championships in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Live stream for NZ U21 games in Finland

2018 NZ Junior Women
2018 NZ Junior Men
Photos © NZCA / Cheryl Smith

3 Jan 2018 – New Zealand's best young curlers are currently in Europe, about to start their quest for a place at the World Junior Curling Championship.

The World Junior B Championships get under way tonight (NZ time) at the Kisakallio Sports Institute in Lohja, Finland. The Kiwis will compete with 22 women's and 23 men's teams, all aiming for a top-3 finish that will qualify them for the main event in Aberdeen in early March.

Two of the NZ pool games will be live streamed

Three of the NZ women – Jessica Smith, Holly Thompson and Emma Sutherland – will be playing at their third World Junior B Championships.

They will want to build on that experience and improve on their fifth-equal ranking two years ago after reaching the quarter-finals. They will be joined by Courtney Smith from last year's squad, and Mhairi-Bronté Duncan making her international debut.

The NZ Men's side of Simon Neilson, Matthew Neilson, Anton Hood, Ben Smith and Hamish Walker have all played at this event in past years, so they too will be keen to improve on their previous results.