|Maniototo Curling International, Naseby||25 - 30 August 2018|
|New Zealand 2||4||Scotland||5|
|Pool A||P||W||L||Pool B||P||W||L|
|3||Australia 1||6||4||2||3||New Zealand 2||5||3||2|
|5||New Zealand 1||6||2||4||5||Italy||5||2||3|
|6||New Zealand 3||6||1||5||6||Australia 2||5||0||5|
|Q: Qualified for Semi / Quarterfinal|
30 Aug 2018 – Brent Laing and Jennifer Jones claimed the gold medal for Canada in the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ Mixed Doubles curling tournament in Naseby this afternoon.
They beat Scotland's Jayne Stirling and Fraser Kingan 9-5 in the final.
The tournament was also the first event of the northern season's World Curling Tour, and was the first WCT event to ever be held in the southern hemisphere.
"That was not our best, a few too many misses," said Jones after the medal ceremony. "But we found a way to make a big shot when we had to. We held ourselves in the game, never really felt like we lost control of it and that's always key."
"We're confident in each other," Laing continued, "and confident in what we do – but you have to prove that every single time you play. And while we were also confident that Scotland would play well, they made just a couple of uncharacteristic misses.
"We played a really good first end and got a big lead. It was fortunate that we did, because we used it up."
"We had a better second half, Jen made some really big shots, including that huge draw for one against 4 [Scotland stones] in the third. But it's mixed doubles, lots of stuff happens and you just have to react to it and see if you can turn it around in the next end."
Scotland's Fraser Kingan was disappointed but philosophical about their loss.
"If you'd told us at the start of the week that we'd make the final and lose to that Canadian couple we'd have been quite happy," he said. "It was probably our best game of the week. We had a poor first end, and missed a nose hit for 3 in the sixth, and that was about it."
"We're quite happy, it was just one of those games, there were quite a few missed shots from both sides. But there were a lot of good shots made as well."
"We really enjoyed it," added Jayne Stirling. "It's been great to play against them twice this week, really great. We've learned a lot from it, and for our first event of the season – a silver medal is great."
The USA's Sarah Anderson and Korey Dropkin had control throughout the bronze medal game to beat Norway's Maia and Magnus Ramsfjell 8-1.
Dropkin commented, "We're feeling pretty good. We were a little disappointed after this morning's [semi-final] match, especially with how close it came down to. But for us the biggest part was just refreshing and refocusing on winning the bronze medal for the US this afternoon, so we're pretty pleased with how we played."
"We just had to make sure we were up for it mentally," said Sarah Anderson, "especially coming up against a team as strong as Norway."
30 Aug 2018 – Scotland and Canada won this morning's semi-finals at the Audi quattro Winter Games Mixed Doubles curling tournament in Naseby and will face off in the gold medal match this afternoon.
Scotland beat Norway in a high-scoring game. The Scots took four points in the third end, and then a crucial steal of two in the next when Maia and Magnus Ramsfjell could find no way to the button for Norway.
When their last shot in the seventh end wrecked on a guard, the teams shook hands with the score at 12-7.
"That was a really good game to play," said Scotland's Fraser Kingan. "The icy was a bit tricky at times, and it just seemed that we got on top of it a bit better than they did. It was a real back and forwards game, and we're really happy to come out of it with a win."
Jayne Stirling added, "We had a couple of unlucky moments and so did they. We got a couple of lucky ones, and then played some really good shots to score well when we could, and they paid off."
The other semi-final between Canada and USA was a much closer affair. The lead changed hands five times, and there was never more than a point between the teams through the first seven ends.
In the last end the Canadians forced USA to attempt a draw for one to force an extra end. Sarah Anderson and Korey Dropkin swept their stone furiously but it came up just short, giving Canada the steal and the game 7-5.
Jennifer Jones was in a buoyant mood after the game. "Well, we've found our way to final, and we're having an amazing time here in Naseby," she said.
Brent Laing commented on their week. "It's been great to meet some New Zealanders and Aussie curlers who we don't run into on the tour, hear their story, and find out what curling's like down here. And it's quite a different environment. It's always great to meet new curlers."
The finals get under way at Naseby's Maniototo rink at 3:30 pm this afternoon (Thursday 30 August). Canada and Scotland will play for the gold medal, while Norway and USA will contest the bronze.
29 Aug 2018 – Scotland and USA won tonight's quarterfinals at the Audi quattro Winter Games Mixed Doubles curling tournament in Naseby to progress to tomorrow's medal rounds.
The Scots won a tight match 5-4 against the local favourites, the New Zealand 2 side of Bridget and Sean Becker.
The Kiwis had a tough shot to tie the game in the final end, needing to score two with a thin in-off to dislodge a Scottish stone in the centre of the house.
They moved it, but not far enough, and scored only one.
Scotland's Jayne Stirling was relieved after the game. "It was quite a frustrating game at times," she said. "A couple of pickups, a couple of wee bits of ice that were running not quite as smoothly as previously, but we managed to get around it. Keeping their scores down helped us to keep the game under control."
"But we're happy, and looking forward to playing our good friends the Norwegians tomorrow."
The USA scored two big ends early in their match against Australia 1's Lynn and Dean Hewitt, and retained control to run out 11-5 winners.
"It felt good," said USA's Korey Dropkin afterwards. "I think Sarah and I had a good feel for the ice, and we just capitalised on some opportunities and missed shots in the early ends. They got a couple of tough breaks, and then we controlled it ok. It's pretty tough for them to come back from that."
"It feels like we've got our mojo, so we're just preparing for the next game now."
Tomorrow's semi-finals start at 11:00 am at Naseby's Maniototo rink. Scotland will face Norway, and USA will play their Canadian neighbours. The medal games are at 3:30 pm.
29 Aug 2018 – Canada and Norway claimed the top spots in their pools to qualify direct to tomorrow's semi-finals in the Audi quattro Winter Games Mixed Doubles curling tournament in Naseby this week.
Scotland, New Zealand 2, USA and Australia 1 will contest the right to meet them in tonight's quarter-finals.
Team Canada had secured the top spot in Pool A before last night's penultimate round.
"Our form's been not too bad," said Canada's Jenifer Jones. "We've had a couple of games where we haven't been at our best so we'll try and go a little bit better in the playoffs."
"Step one is qualifying," commented Brent Laing. "Hopefully we'll bring our ‘A' game and get some breaks, and see how it goes."
In last night's Pool A round, Scotland qualified for a quarter-final when they beat New Zealand 3 by 7-6. Australia 1 took the pool's remaining playoff in style, scoring a maximum six point end in their 14-3 win against Australia 3.
This is the first competition of the season for all of the northern hemisphere sides, and the Scots are pleased with their progress.
"We're not far off," said Fraser Kingan. "It feels like we're gradually improving with every game. Just throwing the rock a lot better, and getting back into the groove."
As the Pool B teams up for their final round, five of the six teams had a chance at qualification – and none of them had a guaranteed playoff spot.
The local New Zealand 2 side of Bridget and Sean Becker were the first to stake a claim, scoring the second six-pointer of the tournament on their way to a 10-3 win over Australia 2 in six ends. Norway followed suit and claimed top place in the pool when they beat Japan 12-3, and after a tight final match USA headed Italy 6-3.
Norway's Magnus Ramsfjell was feeling confident. "This has been a good week for us after a long off-season," he said. "Coming back on the ice and performing towards our best, I think. We're feeling good, and will take some confidence into the semi-final definitely."
"Even the game yesterday when we lost to Italy, it wasn't a bad one our part – they just played so well and we got that loss out of the way before the playoffs. It sounds weird, but I think it's helped us."
In the quarterfinals at 7:00 pm tonight (Wednesday) at Naseby's Maniototo Ice rink, Scotland will play New Zealand 2 while USA will take on Australia 1. The winners will face Canada or Norway in the semi-finals at 11:00 am tomorrow, and the medal matches start at 3:30 pm.
29 Aug 2018 – It's not every day we host curling royalty in New Zealand.
Between them, Brent Laing and Jennifer Jones have won 6 Scotties (Canadian Women's Championships), 3 Briers (Canadian Men's), 5 World Championships, and an Olympic Gold medal (Jones in 2014).
So we asked them if they'd like to chat – and they said "Sure!"
So how did you end up here in Naseby at this tournament?
Brent: We got a call from Jeff Stoughton at Curling Canada with the invitation – he runs Curling Canada's Mixed Doubles programme. New Zealand has always been a place we wanted to come to. So we made it work, and it's been fantastic so far.
You have impressive CVs in the Men's and Women's game. How long have you played Mixed Doubles?
Jennifer: We played the last [Olympic] quadrennial in Canada, did really well, we're ranked number 2 in Canada right now. We play quite a bit, and we love it! And it's a lot of fun to be able to play with your spouse.
How do you fit Mixed Doubles in with your other team commitments?
Jennifer: We're pretty lucky, we train together regardless of whether we're with our own Women's and Men's team or as Doubles. That part is easy, and then it's just a matter of setting our Men's and Women's schedules and then figuring out which Mixed Doubles events we can work into it.
Brent: Jeff [Stoughton] has done a really good job of making sure the MD events happen, not conflicting with the bigger Men's and Women's tournaments. He's wanting to encourage a lot of the top players to play, and it's worked out. It's not always perfect, but the main events we can usually go to. We play as much as we can, and we're lucky that Jen's mom can look after our girls. She's great, they're with her right now.
This is our first event of the season, and we have two more of the bigger MD events this [northern] fall. We really enjoy it, it's a great format and lots of fun to play and it continues to grow. We'll play it as long as we can make it work."
Jennifer: We'll give it a go this next quadrennial, and see if we can qualify for our next Olympic trial in Canada and see where it goes from there.
Brent: Same as always, I think it's the same in Men's and Women's and Mixed Doubles – if you enter an event your goal is to win it. This is the first year of the quadrennial so there's not a ton on the line as far as Olympics is concerned, but there's still National and World Championships. Our Men's and Ladies' teams are still priority number 1, and this would be kind of 1B. But when we're playing this, it's our entire focus, and let's see how far we can get.
And we didn't prompt these final comments, honest!
Jennifer: Honestly from the time we drove into Naseby we've been blown away by the hospitality, and we're just so thrilled to be here and what a great facility to have here.
Brent: I can't believe what a great curling club you have here. Anton [Hood] told us you have 110 people live here, and you have a double storey, 4-sheet rink.
Jennifer: It's almost like going back in time, the whole character of the town from the early days. The hospitality and the kindness of the people here, we're just honoured to be here.
28 Aug 2018 – With three pool sessions still to play, Canada has already qualified for the playoff rounds at the Audi quattro Winter Games Mixed Doubles curling tournament in Naseby this week.
Team Canada's Jennifer Jones and Brent Laing locked in their playoff spot with a 9-1 win against New Zealand 1's Thivya Jeyaranjan and Brett Sargon this morning.
On the next sheet, Australia 1 beat Finland 9-8 when Lynn Hewitt drew her last stone into the house to score three in the final end.
"We're really keen to do well here," she said. "Not just for ourselves but for Australia curling. This is the first time in a really long while that we've had some help to get here, so we'd like to get a result to repay that. But you can't think about the goal, the outcome, or your opponents when you're playing your shot – just hit the broom and throw the right weight."
"It's really great," continued Dean Hewitt, Lynn's son and playing partner. "Mum says this is her final international event, so it's the last time we'll curl together at this level. And we've been playing some really good games, so we'll just try to keep it going as long as we can."
In the same session New Zealand 3 recorded their first win, 8-4 over Australia 3.
When asked what brought about the change, Anton Hood replied, "We just came into the game with a positive attitude. And getting our hits spot on, yesterday we were just a little off. Sometimes it's just millimetres that make the difference."
"Getting that 4 in the first end was a great start," added Holly Thompson. "It really settled our nerves and gave us confidence."
In the afternoon session USA continued their strong form with a 9-2 win against NZ 2, Japan edged out Australia 2 by 9-8 and the Italians handed Norway their first loss 8-6.
USA's Korey Dropkin was pleased with their progress. "I think we're doing fairly well now, we're picking up our pace and adjusting to the ice a little bit better than we did early on. This is a great opportunity for us to get ourselves grounded for the season, get our dynamics and communication solidified for the World Cup next month."
Asked about their goals, Sarah Anderson added, "Well, we want to have fun, we're excited about the World Cup next month, and hopefully defend our title at US Nationals. I think this is a really good event. It attracts a lot of good teams and is a really well-run, professional event. It's a great way to start our season, and it really is a highlight of our schedule."
In yesterday evening's draw there were wins for Scotland, 9-5 over Australia 1, Finland by 9-6 against New Zealand 3, and Australia 1 headed NZ 1 by 10-3.
For the Finns, it was their first win of the tournament. "The first win is always good," said Markku Uusipaavalniemi, an Olympic silver medallist in 2006. "I was disappointed with my own game in the first two, but today was ok – not so many mistakes. Our goal here was to just get our game together. It's outside the season in Finland and we had a question mark over how we would go. But we just want to keep improving through the tournament."
After nine sessions of play Canada lead Pool A with four wins from four, followed by Australia 1 and Scotland with three and NZ 1 with two. Norway and USA top Pool B with three wins, and hot on their heels are NZ 2, Italy and Japan on two wins each. The top three in each pool will qualify for the playoff rounds.
Pool play continues at Naseby's Maniototo Ice rink until Wednesday afternoon. Quarterfinals are on Wednesday evening, and the medals decided on Thursday.
27 Aug 2018 – Canada showed their star power in the morning session of the Audi quattro Winter Games Mixed Doubles curling tournament in Naseby today.
Australia 1 ran them close all the way, and led by one going into the last end. With just Canada's final stone to play the Aussies held two shots, one of them sitting on top of two Canadian stones and the other in the open.
The collective wisdom of the upstairs gallery was that Jennifer Jones' only option was to hit the open stone, score one for Canada and take the game to an extra end.
Jones was having none of that though. With the timeclock counting down to zero, she threw a rocket to peel the Australian stone sitting on top of two Canadian rocks across to the other shot stone, which then rolled gently across the house. Her partner Brent Laing swept it frantically and got it just outside the Canadian stones still in the house to earn a remarkable 8-7 victory.
In the other early games, New Zealand 1 had an 8-3 win over NZ 3, and Scotland were clinical in their 9-1 result against the Finnish duo.
The Scots were delighted with their showing. "It felt really good, like we got back to our usual game," said Fraser Kingan.
"We struggled a bit in the first two, it's the start of the season for us so we're just getting back on the ice and back into rhythm. That game we played really well, made them play some tough shots."
Jayne Stirling added, "And we managed the scoreboard really well that game, making sure once we were up by a few shots they couldn't score too many."
Today's afternoon draw saw Norway record a 7-4 win against Australia 2, USA head off Japan 12-2, and a crowd-pleasing win for NZ 2 when Bridget Becker had an open draw with her final shot to score 3 and beat Italy 7-6.
She was open about their performance to date. "We've been a bit slow starting, and struggling a bit.'" She said. "But we seem to just keep working our way back into the game, which is nice. We should try doing it earlier though."
26 Aug 2019 – The QRC Winter Games NZ Mixed Doubles Curling Tournament presented by Forsyth Barr gets under way in Naseby, Central Otago tomorrow, and NZ Curling's National Coach Peter de Boer says the Kiwi players are raring to go.
The top three teams from the 2019 New Zealand Championships will carry the home side's hopes, including back-to-back champions Jess and Ben Smith who will use this event to gain valuable experience for the 2020 World Championship in Canada.
"Mixed Doubles will be a big part of NZ Curling's future," said de Boer, "and for our top players to get this sort of international competition at home is just huge."
There is a wealth of experience amongst the rest of the field. Australia's Tahli Gill and Dean Hewitt reached the semi-finals this year's World Championship, and the USA's Tabitha Peterson and Joe Polo earned bronze in 2016.
Polo also won Olympic gold the with the USA Men last year, while Finland's Markku Uusipaavalniemi also a past Olympic medallist.
This tournament is once again the first stop on the 2019/20 World Curling Tour season.
Fourteen games - one from each round, including the playoffs - will be screened live through the week on Sky Sport 9. Sports fans without a SKY Sport subscription will be able to purchase a new weekly or monthly pass via SKY Sport Now.
The twelve teams will play in two pools from Tuesday through to Friday, and the top three from each pool will qualify for playoffs. The medals games will be on Saturday afternoon.
23 Aug 2018 – International curling returns to Naseby, Central Otago this weekend with the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2018 Mixed Doubles tournament.
The Kiwi teams are looking forward to meeting top international teams on home ice, and participating in the first World Curling Tour event to be held in the Southern Hemisphere.
The 13 competing teams are from Australia, Canada, Finland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Scotland, USA and New Zealand. Over half of the sides have competed at World Mixed Doubles Championship level, and others have strong credentials.
Team Canada's Jennifer Jones and Brent Laing have five world titles between them in Women's and Men's Championships, while Jones won Women's Olympic Gold at Sochi in 2014.
Bridget and Sean Becker have the best international record of the Kiwi teams, highlighted by a World Championship silver in 2010. They have also medalled twice at Winter Games, with bronze in 2011 and silver in 2013.
Bridget Becker has competed at every Winter Games NZ since the first edition in 2009.
"I love the Winter Games!" she said. "We get the top international teams coming to New Zealand, curling on our ice. It's always good, seeing old friends and making new ones, and the curling is always top level. It's great!"
"We want to enjoy it, and we always want to improve. Curling with Sean for the first time in a long time, it should be fun."
For Anton Hood and Holly Thompson, both still in the Junior (Under-21) ranks, this is their first Winter Games.
"We're stoked about playing an international competition on home ice", said Anton. "And against some of the very best international sides."
"We've been training together every weekend since we were selected just a couple of months ago," he added. "But we've only had one tournament together, and that was our Nationals. We'd just like to play well this week."
After the official practice day on Saturday 25th, pool play gets under way from Sunday through to Wednesday, and the medals are decided on Thursday 30th. Entry is free at Naseby's Maniototo Curling International rink.
Lake Wanaka, 3 May 2018 – Underlining its position as one of the world's leading international winter sports events, the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ has joined forces with the World Curling Tour to host the first Mixed Doubles Curling Tournament of the 2018/19 season.
A newly-signed partnership agreement will mean that the Winter Games NZ Curling Tournament will become the first Southern Hemisphere event to join the global Tour which incorporates some 170 championship curling events.
"We are all really excited to have the Mixed Doubles event at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ become an official part of our World Mixed Doubles Curling Tour," says World Curling Tour President Armin Harder.
"This event has become a highlight for many top Mixed Doubles teams over the last number of years. With it becoming an official part of the Tour, participating teams can now also collect valuable World Curling Tour Ranking Points."
"To now be able to list the beautiful country of New Zealand as one of our Tour stops is certainly a big thrill for fans and players. Particularly exciting is that this will be our first event in the Southern Hemisphere and also our opening event for the upcoming 18/19 season. We wish Winter Games NZ and all the participants the best of luck and look forward to this year's Games."
Winter Games NZ has been hosting some of the world's best curlers since the sport first featured on its schedule in 2009. With Mixed Doubles making its Olympic debut as a full-medal sport at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, international teams used the 2017 Audi quattro Winter Games as part of their Olympic preparation, including the Olympic Silver medalists from Switzerland and Bronze from Norway, amongst other high profile teams.
The 2018 Audi quattro Winter Games will once again see an impressive line-up including teams from Switzerland and Canada, the gold and bronze medal-winning nations at last month's World Championships. Defending Winter Games NZ champions Estonia, are also expected to attend, along with teams from Australia, Scotland, USA, Japan, Korea and China. The Kiwis will be looking to make the most of a hometown advantage with two teams set to compete.
Martin Toomey, CEO of the Audi quattro Winter Games, commented, "Curling has been an integral part of the Audi quattro Winter Games since its inception so we are delighted to see the Mixed Doubles tournament officially recognized as a World Curling Tour event in 2018 and 2019. We look forward to welcoming the teams to Aotearoa New Zealand in August and look forward to seeing world class action being played out in a world class venue."
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