Youth Olympic Games Mixed Team Curling: Day 4 Midday Update

Norway will play China for the last spot in the Quarter-Finals Photo: Richard Gray / WCF

Sweden, Canada and Japan are through to the last eight of the Mixed Team Curling competition at the first Winter Youth Olympic Games after wins in this morning’s games.

Following Session 7 in the Red Group, Sweden ended the round with a record of five wins and one loss to qualify after beating Germany 6-4 in seven ends. Although top spot is not guaranteed, the win gives them confidence going into their final round-robin game against Japan this afternoon.

Skip, Rasmus Wrana, said: “Our opponents played well, but we also played some great curling out there - we made all the important shots which helped. We just need to win tonight to guarantee top place - if we lose to Japan, one of the other teams will finish top. Every team out here is quite good, including Japan, so it is going to be a hard match.”

Asked what the key to their success so far has been, Rasmus answered: “Our best asset during this competition has been our offensive play. During the match we’ve been making the shots that count and this has helped us win games on many occasions.”

Great Britain picked up their second win in a row, beating Russia 6-3 in seven ends, which included a steal of one point in the fifth end and finishing the game with two points in the seventh. Afterwards, Great Britain Skip, Duncan Menzies, reflected on what has been a frustrating campaign for his team.

He said: “I don’t really know what the problem has been for us. I was struggling to judge the ice and the other teams seem to have got to grips with it a lot quicker, to their advantage. We could have done with another couple of days practice so that we were up to speed before now.”

The British team have been cheered on by a vocal support throughout the event, which Duncan admits played its part in their last two victories. He said: “Our fans have been really fantastic out here. If we made a bad shot they would start singing your name which helped pick you up quickly so you were never left feeling down for long. Although we lost our first few games the support we’ve received has been fantastic.”

Italy kept themselves in Quarter-Final contention with a 6-3 win over hosts Austria in seven ends. After a score of two points in the first end and a steal of two in the fifth, the game never looked in doubt. Whoever wins the game between Italy and Russia will now qualify for the Quarter-Finals.

Afterwards, Italy Skip, Amos Mosaner, admitted he was disappointed with his own performance following yesterday’s defeat. He said: “Unfortunately yesterday we lost because I missed the last stone, but today we concentrated a lot better which is why we won. We also need to be a lot more aggressive during the game and by doing this we can hopefully win later and make it through to the quarter-finals.”

After an opening win against Canada, the Austrian team have however found it tough against some solid opponents. Never the less, Austrian Vice-Skip, Camilla Schnabel, hopes that this competition will reignite interest in the sport in her country long after the Youth Olympics have finished.

She said: “It’s an honour for us to play this competition in our home country. We are very proud to be the host nation and I think Innsbruck has coped very well with the organisation of such a big event. Curling is still a very small sport in Austria, not many people know what it is, so I hope that interest in the sport will increase and we will get a lot more people playing curling here in Austria.”

Red Group Standings after Session 7
(Rank/Team/Games/Wins/Losses)

1 SWE - Sweden 6 5 1 (Qualified)
2 CAN - Canada 6 4 2 (Qualified)
2 JPN - Japan 6 4 2 (Qualified)
4 ITA – Italy 6 3 3
4 RUS - Russian Federation 6 3 3
6 AUT – Austria 6 2 4
6 GBR - Great Britain 6 2 4
8 GER – Germany 6 1 5

After the afternoon session, Norway and China will face each other in the only tie-breaker of the competition after they both won their Session 7 games in the Blue Group. This game will take place at 19:30 (local / CET) this evening.

Norway started slowly against Estonia, who stole two in the first end, but rallied round to eventually win 8-3 after six ends after stealing two and then three in the final two ends played. After the game, Skip Markus Skogvold, was relieved to be given another opportunity to make the Quarter Finals.

He said: “We’re really excited to have another chance to play in the play-offs. In the first end it was so slow, but from then on we played really well. We changed the team setup after yesterday - I changed from fourth to second so that I could brush more. It seems to have worked today as we made a lot more stones count.”

Contemplating the tie-breaker against China, Markus said: “We played against them in the first game and they played really well, so I think it will be really tough. They are good, but I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be Norway’s night.”

Switzerland also finished off their Round-Robin games with another win, this time 8-4 over the Czech Republic. Although the Czech’s claimed three in the sixth end it was not enough to mount a fight back after the Swiss stole four in the third end.

After the game, Swiss Lead, Lisa Gisler, found time to reflect on her team’s strong performance in this game and throughout the competition. She said: “At the beginning it was looking like it would be a tough game. We had a couple of good shots, but managed to go five stones up and they never recovered from that.”

She added: “I’m a little bit surprised at our success as we didn’t know how our opponents would be, but it’s been great. I think our success is down to two things – first of all we always prepare seriously, but we also have great fun and we are such good friends. This translates to great teamwork out on the ice which is key to any successful curling team.”

In the other game, Korea beat New Zealand 9-4 after seven ends, the key turning point being a steal of three in the second end. This result consigned New Zealand to a seventh place finish in the group, with a record of two wins and five losses.

USA, who had already qualified for the Quarter-Finals, continued their impressive form with another high score, this time beating China 8-1. Vice-Skip, Tom Howell is hoping to continue their winning streak as they strive for a medal place at the Winter Youth Olympics.

He said: “We’re feeling good about the Quarter-Finals. We feel strong, we feel confident, we’re getting enough rest, so I think if we play well, we will do well. I think being undefeated adds more pressure though.”

He continued: “With everyone watching us, we feel we have to live up to how we have been playing so far, and of course everyone will be aware of our record. Being undefeated doesn’t mean anything to us because going into the play-offs you can still get knocked out straight away so we’re still going to have to play strong.”

Blue Group Standings after Session 7
(Rank/Team/Games/Wins/Losses)

1 USA - United States of America 7 7 0 (Qualified)
2 SUI - Switzerland 7 6 1 (Qualified)
3 CZE - Czech Republic 7 4 3 (Qualified)
4 NOR - Norway 7 3 4 (Tie-breaker vs CHN)
4 CHN - China 7 3 4 (Tie-breaker vs NOR)
6 KOR - Korea 7 2 5
7 NZL - New Zealand 7 2 5
8 EST – Estonia 7 1 6

The Mixed Team competition runs until January 18 with bronze and gold medal games being played at 17:00 local time. The final standings of the Mixed Teams will then determine the teams for the unique Mixed Doubles competition where one male and one female curler, from different nations, join together in the second curling competition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games.

Curling fans will be able to keep up to date with the latest scores from the event via the World Curling Federation micro-site: http://www.innsbruck2012.worldcurling.net

The World Curling Federation will also be updating regularly from the event via their fan feeds on Twitter http://twitter.com/worldcurling and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/WorldCurlingFederation

A daily highlights video clip covering all of the Winter Olympic sports taking place at the Games will be available on the Innsbruck 2012 YouTube site http://www.youtube.com/innsbruck2012

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