|Maniototo Curling International, Naseby||17 - 23 August 2013|
|New Zealand 'A'||10||Gold|
|New Zealand 'A'||6|
|China||10||New Zealand 'A'|
|2||New Zealand A||QS||6||4||2||2||New Zealand||QS||10||7||3|
|6||England||6||2||4||6||New Zealand A||10||0||10|
|Q: Qualified for Final / Semifinal|
24 Aug 2013 – Japan and Australia took home the gold medals from the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ curling tournament late yesterday.
Japan won the Men's gold medal match 10-3 from New Zealand, who took silver. Korea picked up the bronze medal as the losing semi-finalist.
A final stone hit from Australia secured the Mixed Doubles gold medal 7-6 from New Zealand 'A', and China cleared out from New Zealand 10-4 to win the bronze.
The two silver medals for New Zealand represent the best result for the home side in the three Winter Games tournaments to date.
Since losing two of their first three games in the round-robin, the Japanese Men improved through the week and put in an impressive error-free performance to record their eighth successive win. A well-taken 3 to Japan in the fourth end put them in control of the match, and NZ skip Peter de Boer offered the concession with his last stone still to play in the ninth.
"We are very happy to win here in Naseby," said Japanese skip Yusuke Morozumi. "It is a wonderful event, and very important for us in our lead-up to try and qualify for the Olympics."
Kiwi skip Peter de Boer was also looking ahead. "We've had 12 good games of top-level curling," he said. "Obviously we're disappointed to lose the final, but we know we can play well enough, we've beaten all the teams here at least once this week, so this has been a really valuable tournament."
The Mixed Doubles final was close throughout, and with her final stone Australia's Eve Bélisle could see just enough of the NZ "A" stone she needed to hit for their second point of the end and their 7-6 win.
Her playing partner Steve Johns said after the game, "I think we stepped up our game from the round-robin. This was the first time we've played together, so there it took a bit of time for us to get used to each other's play. And learning how to support each other when it goes well, and when it doesn't go well."
Maniototo brother and sister Sean and Bridget Becker won the silver as New Zealand 'A'. Bridget described her week as "crazy" when the team defaulted their first match as she was with her young son in hospital early in the week. Her baby daughter also developed bronchitis a few days later.
"We did really well to get where we did," she said. "Of course, we'd have preferred the gold. Sean played amazingly all week, he's a great partner." The pair won the bronze medal two years ago, and when asked if she'd like to come back in 2015 to try for gold and complete the set, she replied with a smile, "I'd love to – if they'll have us!"
The Japanese, Korean and New Zealand Men's teams will meet at a number of tournaments in the next few months before the 8-team Olympic Qualifying Event in Füssen, Germany. The top two teams from there will fill the final places in the 10-team field for next year's Sochi Winter Olympics.
23 Aug 2013 – New Zealand will play in both the Men's and the Mixed Doubles finals of the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ Men's curling tournament later today.
The NZ Men won their semi-final against Korea 8-6 this morning to book a place in the final against top qualifiers Japan.
In the first of the Mixed Doubles semi-finals, top-ranked Australia played the New Zealand side of Natalie Campbell and Hans Frauenlob. The crucial end was the seventh, where Eve Bélisle made two classy shots to remove NZ stones holding shot. The Kiwis could only score one of the two they needed to tie the score in the last end, and Australia won 8-7.
"That was so tight," said Bélisle after the match, "and both sides played real well. Yes, we both made some good shots in the second-to-last end, and I think that was a bit of a turning point. I'm just so relieved to get the win."
The New Zealand 'A' side of Sean and Bridget Becker had a healthy 8-0 lead halfway through their semi-final against China, only to see the lead evaporate as the Chinese tied it up at 8-8 to force an extra end. Bridget Becker found enough room for a hit with her last stone to secure a 10-8 win and set up a Trans-Tasman final. NZ will play China for bronze.
"It's never over until it's over in Mixed Doubles", said Sean Becker after the game. "With so many stones in play you just need to wick or nudge into the right place and stones can be so hard to shift. But we made it, and looking forward to playing the Aussies!"
In last night's final Men's round, losses by two of the top-ranked teams made no change to today's playoff line-up.
Korea were beaten 6-4 by China last night, and New Zealand lost 8-6 to Australia. Top ranked Japan comfortably headed NZ "A" 9-2 to consolidate their position on the table.
The scores were close in this morning's Men's semi-final between New Zealand and Korea, but the local side always looked in control. This left NZ skip Peter de Boer with a simple hit with his last stone of the game to secure their 7-4 win and a place in the final against the Japanese.
"We played very well, very consistently, all the way through the game," said a happy de Boer after the game. "We always felt in a good position and kept putting pressure on their skip. In the middle of the ends Scott and Sean played well, and we kept giving their skip some tough shots just to try and stay in touch. It was good."
The medal matches at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ Curling tournament will start at 3:30pm today (Friday) at Naseby's Maniototo Curling International rink.
22 Aug 2013 – With Japan, Korea, and New Zealand already confirmed as the three playoff qualifiers at the Audi quattro Winter Games Men's curling, today's last two rounds would only decide the rankings. There was plenty still to play for though, as the top qualifier would go directly to the final.
The three top teams had comfortable wins in this morning's ninth round – Korea beat New Zealand "A" 8-2, New Zealand had the better of China 9-3, and Japan had an 8-3 win over Australia.
Going into the last round, Japan were guaranteed the best Draw Shot Distance used to rank sides level on games won, and all they needed was a win against sixth-ranked NZ "A". They did so comfortably, 9-2.
Korea suffered a loss in the last round, beaten 6-4 by China, and the Kiwis went down 8-6 to Australia but these did not change the final rankings.
With Draw Shot Distance being used to separate teams level on wins, rankings after the double round robin were - 1st JPN (8W-2L), 2nd NZL (7-3), 3rd KOR (7-3), 4th CHN (4-6), 5th AUS (4-6), 6th NZLA (0-10).
At the start of this afternoon's last Mixed Doubles round, Australia and China were already confirmed as semi-finalists. Both were beaten today. England upset Australia 6-4 to record their second win, and New Zealand "A" beat China 6-5 on the last stone to secure the third semi-final place.
Sean Becker, speaking for NZ "A", said that he and his sister and playing partner Bridget were looking forward to the playoffs. "With the little practice that we had leading into this we're quite pleased to still be in it, we'll just enjoy the fact that we're playing tomorrow."
That left the remaining place to go to the winner of Japan's game against New Zealand, and in another last-stone decider New Zealand scored the single shot they needed by millimetres to win 5-4.
"That was a real tight game", said New Zealand's Hans Frauenlob. "Both sides played really well, and it came down to us needing to draw to the button and hope to steal for the win. Nat (Campbell) was great, she made some big shots in the second half of the game."
Semi-finals and the medal games in both Men's and Mixed Doubles will be played tomorrow (Friday).
21 Aug 2013 – With two rounds of the Men's double round robin still to play at the Audi quattro Winter Games Curling, the three playoff spots have already been determined.
The three nations in the field who will participate in December's 8-team Olympic Qualifying event – Japan, Korea and New Zealand – all have 6 wins and will fill the top three places regardless of future results. The last two rounds will determine the top ranking and a direct path to the final, while the other two will play a single semi-final.
The Men's seventh round had started the day's play. After a loss to Japan the night before, New Zealand got their campaign back on track with an 8-5 victory over NZ 'A', who are improving with each game. Japan reversed their first-round loss to Korea by 8-4, and Australia put in the big result they have threatened with an 8-4 win over the Chinese.
Australian skip Hugh Millikin reflected, "We haven't been playing too badly, we've just had the odd miss at the wrong time. The competition here is outstanding, so if you're not on top of your game or you miss a shot you pay. Today we made the big shots at the right time."
In the evening's eighth round, the accuracy of Team Korea saw them account for New Zealand 5-2. Japan made their intention clear from the outset against the Chinese when skip Yusuke Morozumi nailed an angled raise takeout to score 3 in the first end. China levelled the scores after six ends but from there Japan controlled the match to win 7-5.
Australia also controlled the second half of their game against NZ 'A' to pick up their third win 8-3.
After losing two of their first three matches, Japan are now the form side with five straight wins. When asked what he attributed his side's improvement to, Morozumi's answer was simple. "Just practice," he said. "We have practiced every evening after our games – practiced our shots and got used to the ice."
There was just one round in the Mixed Doubles event today, where New Zealand had a bye. NZ "A" slumped to a 9-1 loss to in-form Japan, China led throughout to beat England 9-4 and Australia ensured Australia "A" ended the tournament winless after a 6-4 result.
Australia "A" had four matches that could have gone either way, and Dave Thomas commented, "We just couldn't finish games off. But we've really enjoyed the tournament nonetheless."
Australia and China have a 4 win - 1 loss record and will fill two of the four semi-final berths. Japan, New Zealand and NZ 'A' will fight out the other two places in Thursday's final round-robin matches.
The last two preliminary rounds of the Men's event will also be held on Thursday at Naseby's Maniototo Curling International rink. Semi-finals and finals will be played on Friday.
20 Aug 2013 – The New Zealand Men went unbeaten through the first half of the double round robin at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ today, but their perfect record ended against Japan in the next match.
Previously undefeated Korea and New Zealand clashed in the feature match of the fifth round at Naseby's MCI rink this morning. The sides were tied after the regulation ten ends, but the home side scored the vital point in an extra end to record a 5-4 victory in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd.
"As soon as we got a few rocks in play and really started to curl against them we started to get the upper hand," said New Zealand skip Peter de Boer. "It's great to get through the first round undefeated, so we'll just keep working away and see where it takes us."
In another important game Japan beat China 10-8, and skip Yusuke Morozumi was pleased with the way his side played. "We just kept our concentration up for the whole game, and I think we had a very good game", he said. "But with three wins and two losses we still have a lot of work to do."
Australia beat New Zealand "A" 9-7 this morning to record their first win. The morning round completed the first half of the double round robin.
However, New Zealand's unbeaten run ended in the evening's sixth round. Japan halted the Kiwi charge with a 9-7 victory, a steal of two in the ninth end being pivotal when a final NZ draw came up short.
Korea headed Australia 6-1 and the New Zealand "A" side came close to their first win of the tournament, falling 6-5 to China. An attempted split of a guard to score two on the last stone of the game came up agonisingly short.
Afterwards NZ 'A' skip Hans Frauenlob was philosophical about the outcome. "We thought about the easy option to draw for one and force an extra end," he said, "but they would have had last stone there. We saw the chance for the win and felt we had to go for it."
New Zealand's Mixed Doubles side had a strong start to their game against England in the early fourth-round session this morning, and then withstood a big English comeback to win 9-6. Japan took control from the outset to beat Australia "A" 10-2, and Australia did the same in their 7-2 win over China.
Australia's Eve Bélisle was pleased with the way their game plan worked out. "We came out real strong in the first two ends and got a good lead," she said. "We hadn't really played our ‘A' game in the early ends up until now. But it's hard to defend a lead in doubles because you can't remove the rocks in the house early on, so you can't relax."
In the afternoon's fifth round China overwhelmed Australia "A" 10-0 and Japan had a strong 9-3 win against the English. The New Zealand "A" side of Bridget and Sean Becker piled on 10 points in the first three ends against compatriots Natalie Campbell and Hans Frauenlob, eventually winning 11-8.
Following their emphatic win, China's Liu Sijia said, "After our previous game we just examined and learned from our mistakes and we put that into practice this afternoon."
18 Aug 2013 – New Zealand's Winter Olympic curling contenders have had a winning start to the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ curling tournament.
The NZ men beat China 9-5 in their opening round clash at the Maniototo Curling International rink in Naseby today.
Kiwi skip Peter de Boer was pleased with their result. "It's nice to get off to a winning start," he said after the match. "We played pretty well, so long may it continue. We only had one really sloppy end, and we had two or three ends where we got on top of them early and managed to finish those off nicely to score multiples."
There are two local sides in the Men's competition, but the other NZ team, New Zealand 'A' skipped by Hans Frauenlob, were not able to make it a double success for the home sides. They were beaten 10-7 by Korea, while Japan eased ahead in the second half of their match against Australia to win 8-3.
The Korean and Japanese sides will meet New Zealand in December's Olympic Qualifying Event, so their clashes later this week will be keenly anticipated.
In last night's matches China headed Australia 10-3, and in the local derby New Zealand were too strong for New Zealand "A", winning 9-4. Japan played Korea in a game of singles, and a gamble to score the decisive double in the final end by Japanese skip Yusuke Morozumi didn't quite come off, Korea stealing the last to win 6-4.
Korea and New Zealand finished the day undefeated to head the leaderboard with two wins.
The first round of the Mixed Doubles opened the tournament. China led throughout their match against New Zealand, making some spectacular shots on their way to a 9-5 win. There was more bad news for the home sides with New Zealand "A" forced to default their match to Australia when Bridget Becker was unable to play.
Despite the close 7-6 final result of the remaining game, England always looked in control of their opening game against Australia 'A'.
"That was a good solid start," said England's Lorna Rettig when they came off the ice. "Although we hadn't played together before we've picked up each other's play pretty smartly. We'd be happy to continue with that type of form through the week."
In the second Mixed Doubles round, the New Zealand and New Zealand "A" sides had identical 6-5 victories over their Australian counterpart, both achieved with steals in the last end. China impressed with their 12-5 victory over Japan in the other match.
"That was tight all the way through," said New Zealand's Natalie Campbell "They played really well, and we played better in that game than our first. There was really good curl, and that helped. Hopefully we can build on that result for tomorrow."
Curling at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ continues at Naseby's MCI rink through the week, with round robin matches continuing in the Men's Fours and Mixed Doubles until Thursday 22nd. Semi-finals and finals will be played on Friday.
19 Aug 2013 – Last-gasp wins to New Zealand teams were a feature of the second day's competition at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ curling tournament.
The New Zealand Men's team started well in the feature match of the morning third round against fellow Olympic Qualifying contenders Japan. A draw for 4 in the second end and some impressive shot-making saw NZ out to a 7-2 lead at the fifth end break.
However an error-free second half fightback by Japan, including steals in the last two ends, tied the game at 8-8 after the regulation 10 ends. In a nerve-racking finish, NZ skip Peter de Boer found just enough room with his last stone to secure the single he needed for the win.
Korea scored a deuce in the final end to beat Australia 9-8 in another last-stone thriller, and China were too strong for New Zealand "A", winning 8-4. While he was pleased with the win, the Chinese skip felt his side were not yet on top of their game.
"We are not very satisfied with our overall performance," said Zou Dejia, "as we are not up to the standard we show in training. This is a very young team though, so this international competition is a great opportunity for us to gain experience."
Today's Mixed Doubles round saw New Zealand "A" on top of their game with as they headed England 12-2 in six ends, and Australia picked up their second win beating Japan 8-4.
Natalie Campbell and Hans Frauenlob faced their second consecutive tough Trans-Tasman battle, taken to an extra end by Australia "A" before squeaking home 8-7.
In the evening Men's fourth round China headed Australia 10-3, and in the local derby New Zealand were too strong for New Zealand "A", winning 9-4.
The Korea - Japan clash was a game of singles throughout. Japanese skip Yusuke Morozumi tried to break the deadlock with a double takeout to score two, but missed by millimetres to concede a single and the game to Korea 6-4.
Korean skip Kim Soohyuk was a relieved man after their narrow win. "This is a very tough competition, and it's very good to get some hard games," he said. "It's great preparation for our Olympic Qualifying tournament later this year."
Korea and New Zealand are unbeaten after four rounds of the Men's competition. China and Japan have two wins, while Australia and New Zealand 'A' have yet to register a win.
12 Aug 2013 – Six international Men's curling teams and seven Mixed Doubles sides will join more than 700 other elite athletes from around the world competing in the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2013 over the next two weeks.
The opening ceremony in Queenstown this Thursday (15 August) will welcome all athletes, coaches, spectators and supporters in a free gala event at the Lotto Village, Earnslaw Park. The Village opens at 1pm with live music and special events, followed by the opening ceremony at 5.30pm.
After the arrival of flags and athletes in true Kiwi style an official blessing from local iwi, Ngai Tahu will be followed by speeches by Audi quattro Winter Games NZ Chairman, Sir Eion Edgar and Deputy Prime Minister, Bill English who will officially open the Games.
The first event takes place earlier on Thursday morning at Snow Farm near Wanaka where Nordic ski stars including 2010 Winter Olympic gold medallists, Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) and Nikita Kriukov (RUS) compete in the FIS Australia/New Zealand Cup Cross-Country Skiing Sprint. All men and women's podium finishers will travel across the Crown Range to receive their medals during the opening ceremony.
Curling starts in just five days with the official Practice Day on Saturday (17th) at Naseby's Maniototo Curling International rink. Competition gets under way the following day and will run through the week, concluding with semi-finals and finals on Friday 23rd. Entry for spectators is by gold coin donation.
Audi quattro Winter Games NZ chief executive, Arthur Klap said everything was on track and looking good.
"The athletes are here, the snow is here, the downtown Lotto Villages are going up and the whole crew is ready for action! The start lists this year are absolutely out of this world. We have Olympic champions, world champions and national heroes from all major winter sports nations, including the entire men and women's snowboard halfpipe podiums from Vancouver 2010. This is a true testament to the standing of Winter Games NZ on a global stage where it's now established as one of the top five international events on the winter sports circuit," he said.
"Athletes and coaches all tell us they love coming here and, with the support of our sponsors and funding partners plus the help of more than 400 volunteers, I'm confident this will be the best Winter Games NZ ever. So come down to Earnslaw Park."
More than 40 nations have entered to date, the highest number in the Games' history. They include winter sports powerhouses like USA, Canada, Switzerland, Austria, Australia, China, Japan as well as relative minnows Dominica, Venezuela, Belgium and British Virgin Islands.
Athletes set to appear over the 11-day competition include the very best in their sports – Olympic snowboarder halfpipe champions Shaun White (USA) and Torah Bright (AUS), the world's current best overall men and women freeskiers, Gus Kenworthy (USA) and Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen (NOR), Paralympic gold medallist Adam Hall (NZ), Olympic cross-country skiing champions Nikita Kriukov (RUS) and Justyna Kowalczyk (POL).
The main New Zealand interest at Naseby's curling competition will be seeing how the local Men's side fare against the elite teams from Japan and Korea, two of New Zealand's main rivals for the two remaining Olympic qualification places and the final qualification touranemt in December. They will be joined by strong Australian and Chinese sides, and a New Zealand "A" side with a mixture of experience and youth.
The Mixed Doubles competition features two of the host nation's strongest international pairings up against experienced sides from Australia (2), China, England and Japan. There were insufficient entries for a Women's competition to be held.
Winter Games NZ 2013 takes place over 11-days from 15-25 August at the international resorts of Coronet Peak, Cardrona Alpine Resort and Snow Farm, along with the Maniototo Curling International Rink. Set against the spectacular backdrop of New Zealand's Southern Alps, the Games also include a full Downtown Sessions festival programme featuring films, live music and entertainment in Queenstown and Lake Wanaka.
New Zealand Teams in Naseby