World Mixed Doubles result kickstarts Winter Olympic campaign

2019 WMDCC - NZL v SWE
Bridget and Sean Becker after their playoff game vs Sweden. Photo WCF / Tom Rowland

27 Apr 2019 – New Zealand's Mixed Doubles and Senior Men's teams were both eliminated in the first knockout round of their respective World Championships in Stavanger, Norway overnight.

The run for the Mixed Doubles side ended when they were beaten 9-4 by Sweden in the round of 16.

Bridget and Sean Becker started strongly, and took an early lead after capitalising on some uncharacteristic misses from the Swedish pair.

However the top qualifiers Anna Hasselborg and Oskar Eriksson soon got into their stride and left few opportunities for the Kiwis as the game progressed.

Sweden went on to win the event from Canada, and the USA beat Australia's Dean Hewitt and Tahli Gill for the bronze medal game.

 NZ Results summary

The Central Otago siblings can still be well satisfied with their week. Their playoff qualification also earned NZ direct entry to the 2020 World Mixed Doubles Championship, which is the first of just two opportunities to earn Winter Olympic qualification points for Beijing 2022.

Peter de Boer, NZ Curling's National Coach, was full of praise for the team's result and excited by the opportunity.

"We're absolutely delighted with the result achieved by Bridget and Sean in Norway," he commented. "Their top-16 position, which by their own admission was achieved with them not at their best, has automatically qualified NZ for next year's World Championship. This puts us firmly on the road to Beijing 2022, as being in the top 16 is where Olympic points are earned."

"We'll be planning and preparing for next year's Worlds immediately, knowing that if we can build on this result then achieving the 2022 dream is far more possible than it was a few weeks ago. We're hopeful that we can use this progress to stimulate some constructive discussions with funding bodies to help supercharge our efforts."

World Senior Championship

The NZ Senior Men were level at 2-2 playing the fourth end of their first knockout game, and seemed in control of it until the Norwegian skip played his final stone of the end. His raised angle takeout picked the Kiwi shot rock from its spot resting against two Norway stones, and scored four for Norway, to give them a handy lead.

Norway went on to win the game 8-2 and knock the Kiwis out of the tournament.

Canada won the gold medal from Scotland, and Denmark took bronze.

The Canadian Women also won their event, with silver going to Denmark and the bronze to Switzerland. The NZ women finished at the tail of their pool so did not qualify for the playoff rounds.

Earlier, the World Curling Federation had confirmed that the 2020 World Mixed Doubles and World Senior Championships would be held in Kelowna, BC, Canada.

Mixed Doubles and Senior Men to World playoffs

2019 WMDCC - NZ v Saudi Arbia
Bridget and Sean Becker celebrate their maximum 6-pointer. Photo WCF / Tom Rowland

26 Apr 2019 – New Zealand's Mixed Doubles and Senior Men's teams have both qualified for the playoff rounds at their respective World Championships in Stavanger, Norway.

The Kiwi Mixed Doubles side of Bridget and Sean Becker scored a maximum 6-point end to kick-start their 14-2 win over event newcomers Saudi Arabia, and finished in a three-way tie for second place in their pool with a 5-2 win-loss record.

After a countback of pre-game draw shot distances they ended up with a final pool ranking of third.

"I wouldn't say we've been outstanding," said Sean Becker after their game. "We've had some roughies and we've had some good games, so it wasn't a very consistent effort. The level's getting better and better all the time, so overall, we're pretty happy."

Only four of the six teams who placed third in each pool qualified through to the top 16, so the pair had a nervous wait through the day as the other preliminary sessions were completed.

They were finally confirmed as gaining the last playoff spot, and will play top qualifiers Sweden in the first knockout round.

The NZ Senior Men confirmed their playoff spot in their penultimate pool game with an inch-perfect final stone, to earn a 6-4 win over the Czech Republic.

"It was unbelievable," said second Iain Craig. "We were lying two against and we had a choice of two shots, either a hit through a port or a draw to the button. We chose to draw to the button and with a good team effort, a good sweep, we got it right on the spot."

Although the side dropped their final game 9-0 to Sweden, that didn't affect their pool position. They will meet Norway in the knockout rounds.

The NZ Senior Women had hopes of a consolation win when they led early in their last match of the tournament, but were overhauled by Italy 10-5.

Playoff rounds start overnight tonight (Friday) and the medals will be decided on Saturday.