|Maniototo Curling International, Naseby||26 - 31 August 2019|
|New Zealand 2||4||Australia 1||4|
|Pool A||P||W||L||Pool B||P||W||L|
|Canada||5||3||2||New Zealand 2||5||4||1|
|New Zealand 1||5||1||4||Australia 2||5||1||4|
|New Zealand 3||5||0||5||Italy||5||0||5|
|Q: Qualified for Semi / Quarterfinal|
31 Aug 2019 – Korea's Hyeji Jang and Yujin Seong won the gold medal at the QRC Winter Games NZ Mixed Doubles Curling Tournament fuelled by Forsyth Barr.
They beat Tahli Gill and Dean Hewitt from Australia 7-4 in the final at Naseby's Maniototo Curling International rink this afternoon.
Therese Westman and Robin Ahlberg won the bronze medal for Sweden, beating USA's Tabitha Peterson and Joe Polo 9-8 in their extra end decider.
Korea opened the scoring in the gold medal match with a double takeout to score 2 in the first end, and then stole the next. Australia scored in the next two ends to level the scores 3-3 at the fourth-end break.
Korea edged ahead as the game neared its end, and Australia came into the last end needing to steal two to force an extra end. However a strong runback by Korea's Yujin Seong spilled the Australian stones and hopes, and Korea stole the end to cement their win.
Hyeji Yang felt her teammate's precision takeouts were a key to their strong tournament. "His runback is very accurate, and important for our game," she said. "This was Korea's first win in the Winter Games, so it is important to us and we are very excited by it."
Dean Hewitt commented, "We came in here just trying to reach the playoffs. So if you'd told us at the start of the week we were going to get to get silver for Australia we'd have been pretty happy with that."
Sweden and the USA had a tight to-and-fro game in the match for bronze. The USA scored 3 in the fifth end, actually throwing their last stone away as there was no safe way to attempt to score a fourth.
Sweden retook the lead when they scored 4 with their powerplay in the next, only for the USA to level the scores in the eighth end and force an extra deciding end. There were a number of stones around the centre of the house with just the final Swedish stone to play, but the Swedish pair were confident that they already had the shot for the win.
They elected not to throw their last stone, and were pleased that the umpire's measure vindicated their call.
It was our goal to medal here," said Therese Westman, "so we're happy with the bronze."
"We struggled in the first half," added Robin Ahlberg, "both with the game and with ourselves. But then we got that 4 with the powerplay, and kept the momentum going."
31 Aug 2019 – Australia 1 and Korea will play for the gold medal this afternoon at the QRC Winter Games NZ Mixed Doubles Curling Tournament fuelled by Forsyth Barr.
After Australia took a single in the first end of their semi-final, Sweden's Therese Westman laid down the challenge with one of the shots of the week - a 3-metre angled raise of her own stone to knock an opposition stone out and score 4. A Swedish steal then had Australia staring down the barrel of a 5-1 deficit.
Over the next two ends the Aussies levelled the scores, and followed it up with precision shotmaking to score 3 of their own in the seventh end.
They then stole the final end for a 9-7 win and a place in the final.
The Australian pair were on a high after the game. "I'm still a bit shaky, it hasn't really sunk in yet," said Tahli Gill. "But Dean played amazing!"
Her teammate Dean Hewitt returned the compliment. "Tahli made some real clutch shots in there too," he said. "That seventh end, I knew that was where we could really put our foot down and play quite aggressively to get 2 or 3 there. We worked really hard to make a multiple, and thankfully we made the shots."
Undefeated Korea faced the USA in the second semi-final, and made an immediate impact in the first end. With the penultimate stone, an American stone clipped a guard and left Hyeji Jang with a takeout to put a score of 4 on the board.
The USA fought back, and a couple of Korean half-shots when the USA took their powerplay saw the Americans hit for 4 points and take a one-point lead in the fifth end. In a see-saw second half, the USA scored 2 in the eighth end to level the scores and force an extra end.
An attempted run-back with the Americans' final shot of the game was just wide, and Korea secured a 9-8 win without needing to throw their last stone.
Hyeji Jang spoke on behalf of her teammate Yujin Seong as they looked forward to the final. "This will be our first time in the final," she said, "so we are a little nervous, but very excited too. We will be doing our best!"
The Korea - Australia gold medal game and the bronze match between Sweden and USA get under way at 3:30pm at Naseby's Maniototo Curling International rink.
30 Aug 2019 – Australia 1 and USA won their quarter-final games this afternoon at the QRC Winter Games NZ Mixed Doubles Curling Tournament fuelled by Forsyth Barr.
The Australians won the Trans-Tasman battle 8-4 against the local hopes, New Zealand 2, at Naseby's Maniototo Curling International rink. They stole two consecutive ends in the middle part of the game to take control, and will meet Sweden in tomorrow morning's first semi-final.
Australia's Tahli Gill confessed to a few nerves going into the game.
"But once you're there you settle into it and focus on the processes," she said. "It's just one rock at a time, getting communication going, and it all worked out."
Her teammate Dean Hewitt took a tumble in the first end when sweeping. "But after that, I felt really good out there," he said. "Things like that don't faze me, so we'll just try and carry the form on into tomorrow."
The Kiwis were gracious in defeat. "They're not 4th in the world for nothing," said Anton Hood. "They played really well. We were a bit unlucky sometimes, but you make your own luck, and we wish them all the best for tomorrow."
"It's been a great experience playing against some great teams," added his playing partner Holly Thompson. "We came into this with a goal of winning four games and we've accomplished that. So next year we'll work hard, and hopefully come back here and do even better."
After trading single scores early in their quarter-final against Canada, the Americans were untroubled. They had two 3-point ends in the middle of the game, and the sides shook hands at 10-2 after six ends. The USA will play Pool A top qualifiers Korea tomorrow.
"We felt good," said Tabitha Paterson. "We had a practice this morning to match the stones and just got a feel for the ice early. So that always helps! We were able to put a bit of pressure on them and force them into difficult shots, so we were happy with the way it worked out for us."
The Sweden - Australia semi-final starts at the MCI rink in Naseby at 8:00 am, and the Korea - USA game follows at 11:30 am. The medal games will take place in the afternoon.
30 Aug 2019 – The round robin is complete at the QRC Winter Games NZ Mixed Doubles Curling Tournament fuelled by Forsyth Barr, and Sweden have joined Korea with direct entry to the semi-finals as pool winners.
They will meet the winners of this afternoon's quarter-finals between the second and third placegetters from the pools.
The New Zealand 2 side of Holly Thompson and Anton Hood are kept the local hopes alive with a final pool win against Australia 2. That earned them another Trans-Tasman clash with Australia 1's Tahli Gill and Dean Hewitt in their quarter-final.
"We just want to bring a bit of fun into the game," said Anton Hood. "We've achieved our main goal to make the playoffs, so everything from here is a bonus. We know we have to play well to beat them, so we just want to step it up another gear if we can."
Speaking after their final round robin win, 8-2 against New Zealand 3, Australia's Dean Hewitt said, "We really had to work for that; they played some really good shots around the button there. But now we've got a bit of momentum over the past couple of games, and hopefully we can bring our 'A' game against Holly and Anton. They're playing really well, it'll be a good battle."
The other quarter-final is a North American derby between the Canadian father-daughter team of Robert and Emilie Desjardins, and USA's Tabitha Peterson and Joe Polo who beat Japan in their last pool game.
Robert Desjardins was delighted with their progress. "This is the first time for Emilie wearing the Maple Leaf," he said, "so getting to the playoffs is a great accomplishment for her. For this afternoon, we need to make more shots and take care of our opportunities. In our last game [against NZL 1] both sides left plenty of chances out on the ice, and we'll need to be better if we want to have a chance against Joe and Tabitha."
The winner of the Australia - New Zealand clash will play Sweden in the first semi-final at 8:00 am tomorrow (Saturday). Korea will play the winner of the USA - Canada match in the second semi at 11:30 am. The medal games will take place in the afternoon.
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.
28 Aug 2019 – Korea is the only unbeaten side after five sessions of play at the QRC Winter Games NZ Mixed Doubles Curling Tournament fuelled by Forsyth Barr.
The Korean pair of Hyeji Jang and Hoseung Lee trailed early in their match against Australia 1 this morning, but capitalised on their chances to win the last three ends and take the game 8-6.
Canada beat Finland 5-3 in the same round, but the local supporters were focussed on the inter-family match-up between New Zealand 1 (Jess and Ben Smith) and NZL3 (Courtney Smith and Hamish Walker).
In a high-quality game NZL1 came back from an early deficit to win 7-6 on a close measure in an extra end.
"I think they actually deserved it a bit more," said Ben Smith. "They certainly outplayed us for most of the game. We were looking at dropping a few points when they took their powerplay, but we called a timeout and both played a pretty good rock after that to keep them to one. Then Jess played a good one in the last to earn us the extra end."
The sides play each other regularly in training. "But it felt much different today," added Ben. "It's always such a battle between family, a bit of a grudge match. They played extremely well, so it was a good game for the families watching upstairs as well".
In the afternoon session, Japan and New Zealand 2 (Holly Thompson and Anton Hood) were handed their first losses by Sweden and USA respectively, and Australia 2 picked up their first win by 8-5 over Italy. These results mean a jam at the top of the Pool B leaderboard, with four of the six teams tied on 2 wins and a loss.
The USA's Joe Polo was upbeat after their win. "We're just about getting used to everything and I think we're starting to get a pretty good feel for the ice," he said.
Commenting on their NZ opponents scoring four in a powerplay to fight back into contention, he said, "We'd played the tap of the corner guard into the house a couple of times earlier, and we thought we had the ice right – but today we missed it twice in a row and got in a little bit of trouble. But next end we got a bit of a break; they just missed a freeze, and we got a couple of rocks in good spots and were able to take out the game."
The evening sessions saw Korea continue their unbeaten streak against Canada 8-3, Finland pip NZL3 by 7-6, and Australia 1 score an 8-5 win over NZL1.
27 Aug 2019 – The opening games of the QRC Winter Games NZ Mixed Doubles Curling Tournament fuelled by Forsyth Barr got under way in Naseby today, and the local sides were in action from the outset.
The New Zealand 2 side of Holly Thompson and Anton Hood faced Italy in the opening session, and the teams exchanged singles early. But the Kiwis scored three in the third end, and then followed it up with a steal of one en route to a crowd-pleasing 9-2 win.
"It felt really good," said Anton Hood. "The ice was a little bit straighter than in training, but the surface was good. Italy played pretty well, but a couple of things just fell our way."
Sweden looked strong as the ran the USA out of stones in the last end to win 7-4.
Sweden's Robin Ahlberg commented after the match, "We had a few bad stones early on, but enough good ones to keep us alive. But yeah, from the third or fourth end we played really good. It felt good."
Australia 2 and Japan were level going into the last end, but the Japanese duo held out to secure a 6-4 win. "We were really nervous," said Misako Den. "But this win gives us more confidence."
The afternoon session saw the first games for the other two New Zealand teams. Courtney Smith and Hamish Walker for NZL3 created opportunities but couldn't capitalise on them as they went down 9-to a sharp Korean side. Precision shotmaking from Finland allowed them to deny Jess and Ben Smith a comeback win for NZL1, with the Finns scoring an 8-6 win with the last stone of the match.
The standout performance of the afternoon session was from Australia 1, who beat Canada 11-3 in seven ends.
"The first four ends were pretty tight," said Australia's Dean Hewitt, "but the angles just worked in our favour for a couple of shots. We got a bit fortuate with that, and then Tahli (Gill) made a couple of great last shots that let us score multiples."
NZL2 scored their second win of the day in the evening session, beating Sweden 8-7 in an extra end game. Japan also picked up their second win, 7-3 over Italy, and the USA headed Australia 2 by 8-5.
4th – World Mixed Doubles Championship 2019
1st – Australia Mixed Doubles Championship 2019
1st – Australia Mixed Doubles Championship 2018
Team AUS for World Mixed Doubles Championship 2020
2nd – Australia Mixed Doubles Championship 2019
Canadian Olympic trialists 2018
1st – NZ Mixed Doubles Championship 2019
1st – NZ Mixed Doubles Championship 2018
Team NZL for World Championship 2020
2nd – NZ Mixed Doubles Championship 2019
4th – NZ Mixed Doubles Championship 2018
2nd – NZ Mixed Doubles Championship 2019
4th – NZ Mixed Doubles Championship 2018
1st – Sweden Mixed Doubles Championship 2017
3rd – World Mixed Doubles Championship 2016
Joe – 1st, Olympic Games Men 2018
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.
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