|Hyeji Jang, Korea. Photo © Winter Games NZ / Iain McGregor|
29 Aug 2019 – After 8 sessions of play at the QRC Winter Games NZ Mixed Doubles Curling Tournament fuelled by Forsyth Barr, Korea have guaranteed themselves a semi-final place as top qualifier in Pool A.
In today's afternoon session they had an arm-wrestle with the New Zealand 1 side of Jess and Ben Smith, with a single scored in every end by the team with last-stone advantage. It was Korea who had the advantage in the extra end to score their single and win 5-4.
Korea's Hyeji Jang said her team were enjoying the conditions.
"The ice is very good, very consistent so we can play our shots with confidence," she said. "And my partner's sweeping is very strong, so we can keep our hits straight."
In other afternoon games, Australia 1 powered past Finland 12-2 to all but guarantee a playoff spot, and Canada kept their hopes alive with a hard-fought 9-7 win against New Zealand 3.
"I think we're improving with every game," said Emilie Desjardins for Canada. "But we were slow to pick up a change in the ice conditions after the fourth end break – it got a bit faster and straighter and we struggled a bit there, but we got it back."
In the morning session Italy had a game to forget, shaking hands after six ends with the USA ahead 15-2. Sweden also impressed in their 9-2 win over Australia 2.
"It was fun playing today, and we made a lot of shots," said Sweden's Robin Ahlberg. "For our next game, we will be trying to bring the joy we had in this game. We play really good when we have fun out there."
The New Zealand 2 side of Holly Thompson and Anton Hood had to dig deep to beat Japan 10-7.
"We didn't have a very good practice," said Anton Hood, "and it kind of followed us through into the game. Pete (de Boer, coach) gave us some good words at half-time, perked us up and told us to have a bit more fun. Told us to smile and gave us some motivation that we needed."
He was full of praise for his teammate. "Holly carried her form through that game as well, like she has all tournament. If I could pick up another 10% I'd be quite happy, and it would make Holly's job a lot easier too!"
The last rounds in each pool will be by late Friday morning. The top three from each will qualify for playoffs, and the medal games will take place on Saturday afternoon.