SWIFT CURRENT —Thursday was an historic day for Japanese curling. The country earned its first-ever spot in the Page 1-2 playoff game after dismantling both Scotland and Canada on the final day of round-robin play at the Ford World Women’s Curling Championship, presented by Meridian Manufacturing.
Japan’s Satsuki Fujisawa pounded Scotland’s Eve Muirhead 10-4 in the morning and didn’t stop there, beating Canada’s Chelsea Carey 11-2 in the afternoon. Japan finished the round-robin with a 9-2 record.
Sitting at 7-3, Canada will play Scotland, also 7-3, Thursday at 7 p.m. — the winner makes the playoffs, while the loser is eliminated. Canada hasn’t won the title since 2008 and hasn’t missed the playoffs since 1999 in Saint John, N.B., when Colleen Jones didn’t make the top four.
“It doesn’t really change a whole lot,” said Carey of the loss. “That was a game where we just couldn’t buy a shot, and you’re going to gave those sometimes. We weren’t that far off, but they punished us every time. It happens. It’s not like we played terrible. All we can do now is go out and leave our hearts and souls on the ice (against Scotland). And that’s what we’ll do. Whatever happens, happens. We’ll give it everything we have.”
Switzerland’s Binia Feltscher (8-2) can finish no worse than 8-3 after defeating Italy’s Federica Apollonio 5-4. A Switzerland win tonight over South Korea’s Ji Sun Kim (5-5) would put Feltscher in the 1-2 game against Japan. Switzerland defeated Japan on Tuesday, so it would get the No. 1 seeding.
Russia’s Anna Sidorova earned a spot in the playoffs with an 8-7 extra-end win over Denmark’s Lene Nielsen (8-7). Sidorova finished the round-round at 8-3.
It is the first time Japan has been in the 1-2 game, just the third time in the playoffs in 21 attempts, and it is Japan’s victory over Canada since 1999. Japan has never won a medal at worlds.
“The confidence definitely carried us through today,” Calgarian J.D. Lind, coach of the Japanese team, said after the sweep of Scotland and Canada. “At the middle of the week, it really could have gone either way. The team responded and right now they are super loose and not overthinking anything.”
Lind says he doesn’t know what to expect with his team now in uncharted waters.
“I don’t know, this team has never been in a situation like this at all, so it will be really interesting to see how they do respon,” he said. “To this point we haven’t talked about changing much up, so tomorrow I imagine we are going to go with the same outlook and keep smiling and keep trying to stay positive.”
Lind said there were mixed emotions in beating Canada, given his relationship with coach Charley Thomas (Lind coached Thomas at the 2007 World Juniors) and the players, who also hail from Calgary.
“Before the game I thought it would be fun to be out there with some of my friends, but it was actually extremely difficult, and I wish nothing but the best for them in the next game,” said Lind. “At the same time, I have put a ton of work into the Japanese and I am extremely happy and extremely proud of what they have done so far. As much as I am hoping for the best for Canada, I am hoping for the best for us.”
Lind was asked what the team was planning to do Thursday night.
“The girls already told me they want steak,” he said with a laugh. “They said that even before today started. They said, ‘We want steak tonight, some Canada steak.’ So I think that is definitely happening.”
Other members of the Japanese team are third Chinami Yoshida, second Yumi Suzuki, lead Yurika Yoshida and alternate Mari Motohashi.
Japan will play in the 1-2 game Friday at 7 p.m. MDT at the Credit Union iplex.
In the other afternoon game, Erika Brown of the United States (5-5) defeated Oona Kauste of Finland (1-10) 8-3. Scotland, South Korea, Germany’s Daniela Driendl (3-6) and Sweden’s Margaretha Sigfridsson (4-6) had the byes.
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This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at http://www.curling.ca/2016worldwomen/?lang=fr
TSN (RDS2 in French), the exclusive television network for Curling Canada’s Season of Champions, will provide complete coverage of the 2016 Ford Worlds.