|Maniototo Curling International, Naseby||23 - 27 August 2015|
|New Zealand 2||4||USA||4|
|Canada 2||2||Canada 1||5|
|New Zealand 1||5||Canada 1||9||USA|
|Pool A||P||W||L||Pool B||P||W||L|
|3||Canada 1||TB||5||2||3||3||New Zealand 2||5||3||2|
|4||New Zealand 1||TB||5||2||3||4||Australia 2||5||2||3|
|Q: Qualified for Semi / Quarterfinal – TB: Tiebreaker|
27 Aug 2015 – Canada 1 beat USA 5-4 in a thrilling final to win the gold medal in the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2015 Mixed Doubles Curling Tournament in Naseby, New Zealand today.
The USA took home the silver medal, and Finland won the bronze medal game 7-4 over Japan.
Canada's Charley Thomas and Kalynn Park scored two in the opening end of the final, and after they stole the fourth end they went into the break with a handy 4-1 lead.
The young USA team of Sarah Anderson and Korey Dropkin played immaculately for the next three ends and as the final end started the scores were level at 4-4, but it was Canada who held the crucial last stone advantage.
The Canadians took their powerplay (positioning the stationary stones to the side) to keep the centre of the house clear, but the USA did everything possible to steal.
When Thomas came to play Canada's second-to-last stone he faced an American stone in the centre of the house that appeared to be well guarded. He judged his hit perfectly, squeezing past the guard to clip a corner of the shot stone and send it into the side boards.
Anderson's last draw for USA was just a fraction deep, so Kalynn Park just needed to follow it in to score the single the Canadians needed for the win and the gold medal.
Park was relieved after the teams came off the ice. "It was intense out there, a really great game," she said. "I struggled a bit but Charley played really well, I was just relieved I made that final shot. And the USA team were great – they played really well all week and they certainly deserved to be in the final."
Korey Dropkin was upbeat after the game, despite not winning the gold. "The week's been great, we've enjoyed every second of this tournament," he commented. "The other athletes have been awesome with us, we've just enjoyed the whole experience. And playing top teams at this level just helps us all improve our game and our future careers."
Finland led Japan 2-0 after two ends of the bronze medal game, and after the sides traded threes the Finns maintained the margin to lead 5-3 at the fourth end break.
The key moment came in the fifth end when Japan held three well-guarded shots and tried to draw a fourth in. It just hung out a little wide, and left Finland a small opportunity. Katja Kiiskinen judged a tough hit and roll perfectly, with her stone spinning almost square to sit on the button nestled amongst the Japanese stones.
Kiiskinen and Pauli Jäämies stole that end and the next for Finland, and ran the Japanese couple Michiko and Kenji Tomabechi out of stones in the last end.
"Of course we would have liked to be in the final," said Jäämies after the game, "but the USA played very well this morning and they deserved their win. This afternoon our hitting game was the best for us all week, and we also had good draw weight. So we're very happy with our bronze."
The semifinals were held earlier in the day. The Japanese side went into their semi against Canada 1 hoping to put the memory of yesterday's one-sided 11-0 loss to the back of their minds, and today's contest was much closer.
Japan were eyeing a second consecutive steal in the fourth end before an upweight hit from Thomas cleared two Japanese stones lying either side of the button. The scores were level at 5-5 after five ends, but Canada made the decisive break in the next with a score of three, and they eventually ran Japan out of stones in the last end to win 9-5.
USA broke open their semi-final against Finland in the fourth end when Sarah Anderson chipped out an opposition stone sitting as second shot, giving USA a score of four points. There was some outstanding shot-making from both sides but the Americans finished it off in style with a double takeout from Korey Dropkin, followed a couple of shots later by Anderson chipping a Finnish stone off the button to score another four and give the USA a 10-4 win.
Wanaka, 27 Aug 2015 – Audi quattro Winter Games NZ could be held annually from 2017 if a business case study commissioned by Sport New Zealand stacks up for the internationally ranked winter sports event to change its status as a biennial fixture.
Chairman of Audi quattro Winter Games NZ Sir Eion Edgar said there is significant interest in the Games, which feature alpine and adaptive skiing, freeskiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing and curling, being held every year.
"The review is currently being carried out by Ernst & Young who are interviewing a wide group of people with connections to the event. It is a very complex and major study but what we know is that there is a high level of demand from the southern venues, sports organisations and the International Ski Federation (FIS)."
Sir Eion said it was imperative that the feasibility study was done to determine the future of the Games. "If we don't become an annual fixture another Southern Hemisphere country might step in and Winter Games NZ could definitely lose their advantage."
The likelihood of a new worldwide FIS Freestyle Super Series being introduced is also driving the annual debate.
"FIS is promoting the concept of four international events as part of the new series with two in North America, one in Europe and another in Asia. At each event there would be six World Cups for freeskiing and snowboarding including halfpipe, slopestyle and Big Air and Winter Games NZ is positioning itself to be the Asian venue."
Sir Eion said it was virtually guaranteed that all the world's top freestyle athletes would compete as part of the Super Series circuit.
Cardrona Alpine Resort is one of the main supporters for an annual Winter Games NZ.
Real Journeys CEO Richard Lauder said to maximise the benefits for New Zealand, Winter Games NZ need to be on the annual elite high ranking circuit or they will not attract top international athletes.
"Cardrona sees huge value in its connection with the elite freestyle snow sports community and in particular their social media followers. American rider Shaun White for example has 2.5 million Facebook followers."
Mr Lauder said Cardrona invests substantially in developing and maintaining Olympic standard competitions to attract elite athletes.
"But we would prefer to lock in Winter Games NZ annually and via this commitment continue to build facilities and skills to make it a top snow sports event and highlight New Zealand as a world-class skiing and riding destination."
Snow Sports NZ CEO Martin Toomey reinforced that an annual Winter Games NZ would raise awareness of New Zealand's world-class snow sports athletes.
"Having the Games every year would give people an opportunity to see New Zealand's top talent competing against world, Olympic and Paralympic champions in our own backyard as well as showcasing the world-class facilities we have in the Southern Lakes where athletes train and compete."
Sir Eion said funding was obviously the main issue in the ultimate decision.
"That's why Sport NZ has commissioned the review, to see if it's feasible. Several of our sponsors have already indicated their support and while much will depend on our major backers Audi and the Government's Major Events Development Fund we have already had a positive reaction from the tourist industry. For New Zealand, and particularly Queenstown and Wanaka it would provide fantastic worldwide exposure."
Sport NZ CEO Peter Miskimmin said they are encouraged by the development of Winter Games NZ since their inception and keen to see if they can become an annual event.
"The feasibility study will provide a strong platform on which to base this decision."
Ernst & Young Project Director Matt Colston said five staff are currently conducting interviews with sponsors, venues, winter sports organisations, athletes, coaches, the Queenstown Lakes District Council and tourism related groups including Major Events, Tourism New Zealand and Destination Queenstown.
The feasibility report will be completed by November 2015.
26 Aug 2015 – Finland will play USA and Japan will take on Canada 1 in the semifinals of the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2015 Mixed Doubles Curling Tournament in Naseby, Central Otago on Thursday morning.
At the start of play on Wednesday morning all six teams in Group A were still in contention for the three playoff spots.
Canada 1 finally found some of the form that earned them a World Championship semi-final in April, leaving group leaders Japan with no answer to an 11-0 scoreline after just six ends.
Australia stole doubles in the last two ends to beat China 8-5, and the New Zealand team were millimetres away from a difficult angled raise for a last-stone win, but lost their encounter against USA 6-5.
"We're definitely playing a lot better in the second half of the tournament," said Canada's Charley Thomas. "We're getting a better handle on the ice conditions, and putting rocks in better positions."
Japan and USA had already qualified, and the morning round left New Zealand 1 and Canada 1 facing a tiebreaker later in the day.
The qualifiers from Group B were known before their last round, so the contest was for top spot and direct entry to the semi-finals.
New Zealand 2 had the opportunity to secure that position but fell to Canada 2 in a high-scoring 10-9 game. Finland topped the group after beating China 11-2, and Australia 2 scored their second win, 7-5 against the Koreans.
New Zealand stole the first three ends of the mid-afternoon tiebreaker against Canada 1, but Canada came back and eventually scored the single they needed in the last end, but not before a nervous moment as their last stone hit jammed and the NZ rock rolled just far enough for the Canadian stone to count.
After coming so close, New Zealand's Brett Sargon said, "It gives us a lot of confidence to take two top sides so close today, and we're pretty happy with how we played – but still a bit disappointed that we couldn't get one of the games over the line."
The two Canadian sides faced off in one of the evening quarter-finals. 2014 Canadian champions Wayne and Kim Tuck played the 2015 side of Charley Thomas and Kalynn Park. The latter pair struggled early, losing three of their first four matches but have found some form at the business end of the tournament. Canada 1's Thomas used his precision hitting at crucial moments to help his side to a 6-2 win.
Team USA's Korey Dropkin and Sarah Anderson faced the local favourites, the New Zealand 2 side of Bridget and Scott Becker in the other quarter-final. The Americans were ahead 7-1 at the fourth end break and the Kiwis shook hands at 10-4 after seven ends.
"It's going well, we're happy to be in the semis," said Dropkin afterwards. "We're looking forward to playing Finland. They're a strong team, but we're just hoping to go out there and give it our best shot and play our game."
25 Aug 2015 – Five of the six playoff qualifiers have been determined at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2015 Mixed Doubles Curling Tournament in Naseby, Central Otago.
With one round of games still to play in each of the two groups, Canada 2, Finland and New Zealand 2 will progress from Group B.
This morning the USA was on the ball early, scoring five in the first end against Australia 1, despite coming up just short with their final draw. The teams shook hands after six ends with the Americans ahead 11-1.
Japan and the USA have qualified from Group A, and any of the other four sides from the group can still claim the last playoff spot.
"We're feeling good, getting used to the ice," said Team USA's Korey Dropkin. "We had a tough opening game but now we're starting to make some shots and get into it."
"And the new timing system took a bit of getting used to," added playing partner Sarah Anderson. "But we're more comfortable with that now."
Canada 1 recorded their first success with a 7-3 win against New Zealand 1, and Japan's third victory was 9-2 over the Czech Republic.
The midday round saw Australia 2 take their first win of the week, and in doing so inflicted the first loss on New Zealand 2. Matt Panoussi and Jennifer Westhagen scored three in the penultimate end to level the scores and then stole the last.
"Its nice to be on the board," admitted Panoussi. "The difference was just making a few more shots, not half-shots. And calling the ice for Doubles is a bit different."
Canada 2 were untroubled to beat China 9-3, and Finland's second win was against the Koreans 10-2.
"We had never played Mixed Doubles as a team before, and it took a while to find our way and get our communication together," explained Finland's Katja Kiiskinen. "And we started to make more shots too, in this game I found my draw weight and Pauli (Jäämies) was really versatile with the middle stones, so it's starting to get there."
In the third round of the day Japan withstood a fightback from Australia 1, scoring two points in the last end to hang on 8-5. The USA had a 7-4 win in the North American derby against Canada 1, and New Zealand 1 kept their playoff hopes alive with their second success, 9-3 over the Czech Republic.
The evening round saw the Chinese development team record their first win of the tournament with a 7-3 victory over Australia 2. The young China side were delighted. "I have only been playing for two years, and my partner for one year," said Ju Feijiaking. "This tournament has been excellent, we have learned a lot."
Canada 2 suffered their first loss, beaten 8-6 in an extra end by Finland in a game where both sides had their share of fortune at different times. A Korean miss on an open hit against New Zealand 1 in the seventh end allowed the Kiwis an open draw to score three and secure the the buffer they needed for an eventual 8-6 win.
"We played a lot more consistently this evening," said New Zealand's Bridget Becker. "We didn't have our best game against Australia earlier, they just outplayed us. But I think might have given us the shake-up we needed."
The final group rounds take place early Wednesday, when the last qualifier will be found from Group A and the rankings confirmed. They will be followed by a tiebreaker if necessary and quarter-finals. Semi-finals and the medal matches will be held on Thursday.
24 Aug 2015 – Japan, Canada 2 and New Zealand 2 were the unbeaten teams after the first day of the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ Mixed Doubles Curling Tournament in Naseby, New Zealand.
It was the young New Zealand 1 side of Eleanor Adviento and Brett Sargon, playing in their first international Mixed Doubles event, who were first on the scoreboard for the host nation.
They capitalised on some early misses by Australia 1 to score four points in the first end, and didn't look back as they went on to record an 11-2 win in their opening Group A encounter.
"We're pretty happy with that," said Sargon after the game. "The ice was a bit tricky to read in places but we made the important shots, couldn't have asked for a better start."
Also smiling were the Czech pair Jana Jelinkova and Ondrej Mihola after they stole the last two ends to beat the favoured Canada 1 team 7-4.
"It was fantastic," Miholo commented. "We still can't quite believe it, Canada are the best team here we thought, so we are very happy."
Japan won the other opening round encounter with a final end steal to beat the USA 7-3.
The six Group B teams started their tournament in the second draw of the day. The experienced New Zealand 2 side of Bridget Becker and brother Scott took an early lead against Finland to lead 4-0 by the fourth end break, but the Finns came back to level the scores with two ends to play. A score of three in the next made the game safe for the Kiwis, and they ran out winners 8-4.
Korea did not lead their match against the Chinese until the seventh end, but then stole the last to make take the match 9-6. Canada 2 led all the way in the other match of the round, and eventually ran Australia 2 out of stones in the last end to secure their 8-3 win.
"It's always great to start a tournament with a ‘W'", said Canada's Wayne Tuck. "We watched the morning game on this sheet and it seemed a bit slower than yesterday's practice, so we were well prepared for it. It also fudged up a bit after the fourth end, but we read it ok."
The third draw of the day saw Group A back on the ice, and Japan continued their strong start to the tournament with an 8-3 result over New Zealand 1.
"It's really good ice," said Kenji Tomabechi, "and we are just enjoying playing here."
The fortunes of USA and Australia 1 improved in their second games of the day. The Americans beat the Czech Republic 10-2, while the Australians headed the reigning Canadian champions 8-3.
"We certainly seemed to find the flow in that one," explained Sandy Gagnon for Australia. "We changed positions, and that just seemed to work really well for us."
In the final round of the day Canada 2 got off to a flyer, stealing 4 points in the first end with a nest of granite around the 4-foot that Korea could not penetrate. The Canadians went on to record their second win of the day 7-5.
New Zealand 2 joined them at the top of Group B with a 6-3 win against the youthful Chinese pair, and the Finns recorded their first success 9-6 against Australia 2.
Pool play in the Mixed Doubles tournament will continue through until Wednesday when the top three from each group will qualify for the playoff rounds. The medals will be decided on Thursday.
23 Aug 2015 – Two local New Zealand teams will take on ten teams from Australia, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Finland, Korea, Japan and USA in the Mixed Doubles Curling tournament at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ.
Seven of the visting sides field athletes who competed at April's World Championships in Sochi, Russia.
29 Jul 2015 – New Zealand Curling has confirmed the two national pairings to compete in the elite Mixed Doubles competition at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2015.
Bridget Becker, who has played in the three previous games, will partner her brother Scott in one team. The other New Zealand side is the Auckland pair of Eleanor Adviento and Brett Sargon.
Teams from Australia, Canada, China, Czech Republic, China, Finland, Japan, Korea and USA are all confirmed for the Games. The recent inclusion of the Mixed Doubles discipline to the curling events for the 2018 Winter Olympics has heightened international interest in the tournament.
The Becker siblings have several years international experience in the NZ Women's and Men's teams respectively, and both have also represented their country at World Mixed Doubles Championships.
They won World Mixed Doubles Championship silver medals in 2010 – Bridget as a player with older brother Sean, and Scott as coach of the team.
It will be the first international Mixed Doubles competition for Adviento and Sargon, although both are current national representatives in the NZ Women's and Men's team respectively.
Both of New Zealand's Winter Games teams are in action this weekend, competing at the NZ Mixed Doubles Championship 2015 in Dunedin.
In another plus for New Zealand curling, Winter Games NZ has been selected to trial proposed Mixed Doubles rule changes in preparation for the 2018 Olympic competition.
23 Jun 2015 – World-class Canadian and American Mixed Doubles curling teams will compete for the first time at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2015, raising the elite competition at Naseby's Maniototo Curling international rink to a new level and creating even more focus for the event, following its inclusion in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea.
The recent decision by the International Olympic Committee to debut Curling Mixed Doubles at the PyeongChang Olympics is a game-changer for the sport and the New Zealand Curling Association and Winter Games NZ are excited at the announcement which comes on the eve of the Games.
Winter Games NZ CEO Arthur Klap said potentially podium winners at the 2018 Winter Olympics will be on show at Naseby and the competition between the host nation Korea and New Zealand against international powerhouses such as Canada and the United States is a bonus for spectators.
Winter Games NZ Curling Manager Sam Inder is upbeat about the appearance of the high-calibre Canadian and American teams, ranked sixth and eighth in the world respectively.
"This is recognition of the solid background work put in by both New Zealand Curling and Winter Games NZ to attract teams of this standard," he said.
Director of High Performance USA Curling, Derek Brown said the IOC's decision will obviously have a huge impact on Mixed Doubles internationally.
"We are delighted to be sending our champions, who are two of our younger athletes, to represent USA at the Winter Games NZ event. The pair has been part of our High Performance Programme for a number of years, having competed at Youth Olympics, World Juniors and recently World Mixed Doubles."
He said competing at an event like Winter Games NZ "provides experience which just can't be replicated without getting out there and doing it. It will be a huge benefit to the athletes' growing curling careers".
Similarly, the Canadian team is using the Winter Games NZ competition to build experience for its players following the positive Olympic announcement.
"In preparation for a podium performance in 2018 we are sending our reigning Canadian champions to the prestigious New Zealand event for the experience and the competition," said Curling Canada Director of High Performance, Gerry Peckham.
Winter Games NZ have offered travel subsidies to a number of countries, including USA and Canada, along with Finland and the Czech Republic who have also confirmed their spots in the starting line-up.
Among the other ten confirmed teams are Australia, China, Japan and Korea and New Zealand A and New Zealand B sides.
"We are also talking to other key curling nations such as Sweden, Italy, and Austria who we are able to support with traveling funds," said Mr Inder. "New Zealand has traditionally been the poor relation of curling because of the distance, but attracting the North Americans and other European teams, will certainly put the sport in this country firmly on the world map."
In another plus for New Zealand curling Winter Games NZ has been selected to trial proposed Mixed Doubles rule changes in preparation for the 2018 Olympic competition.
Mr Inder said the Naseby tournament will provide teams with an excellent opportunity to experience the new rules at a prominent international event.
Naseby's Maniototo Curling International rink will host the Mixed Doubles Curling tournament at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ from 23 to 27 August.
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