SWIFT CURRENT — Japan made curling history Saturday night at the Ford World Women’s Championship, presented by Meridian Manufacturing, when Satsuki Fujisawa and her young team defeated Russia’s Anna Sidorova 7-5 in an extra end.
It is the first time Japan has been guaranteed a medal in world competition. Fujisawa advances to the gold-medal game at 3 p.m. (all times MDT) against Binia Feltscher of Switzerland at the Credit Union iplex.
In the bronze-medal game Sunday at 10 a.m., Canada’s team of Chelsea Carey, third Amy Nixon, second Jocelyn Peterman, lead Laine Peters, alternate Susan O’Connor, team coach Charley Thomas and national coach Elaine Dagg-Jackson will play Russia. For Carey, a win will give her a spot in the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials, the event that will decide Canada’s four-player teams for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Fujisawa is proud to be the winner of the first world curling medal for her country and hopes it will have an impact.
“Curling is still a minor sport in Japan,” Fujisawa said through an interpreter. “It is only during the Olympics when it gets a buildup. Being in the final tomorrow hopefully will help gain more interest in the sport and buildup a bigger fan base, so we are happy.”
Fujisawa said the team was much more comfortable playing in the semifinal than it was under the bright lights of the Page 1-2 game the night before against the Swiss.
“Yesterday we had trouble reading the ice and weren’t able to get our confidence. We had to throw without being confident in the shots we were calling,” she said. “Today, we felt a lot better on every shot, we communicated more and really believed in what each other was saying. It all worked out better.”
J.D. Lind, the Canadian coach of the Japanese team, said he would have been surprised had someone told him a week ago that his team would be playing for the world championship, but . . .
“I knew this team had skills, but you never expect the first time at the world championship to show such poise and consistency throughout the week,” he said. “They definitely played great today and I think they definitely deserve to be in the final tomorrow.”
He said his team was fortunate to get a dry-run at pressure-packed curling in the Page 1-2 game.
“The first time is always nervous, so we were lucky we had a bit of a free game last night,” said Lind. “Obviously, we would have liked to have won that one, but having a second chance today … was a huge help. They were way less nervous, much more comfortable with the ice. We had a really good meeting last night to go through a lot of things, and tonight they played like they did all week.”
Lind is looking forward to playing the Swiss.
“The Swiss have been great all week. They have been so successful because they don’t make mistakes,” he said. “They don’t give you much so when we get our chance we really have to capitalize. If we can put a little pressure on them and play like we did tonight, hopefully it will be another close game.”
The Japanese team includes third Chinami Yoshida, second Yumi Suzuki, lead Yurika Yoshida and alternate Mari Motohashi.
For the third consecutive year, Sidorova will be playing for a bronze medal; she’s finished third at the past two world championships.
“Japan played well and it was always tough to get two,” Sidorova said. “We struggled a little bit with the ice. A couple of really disappointing mistakes made the difference.”
For ticket and other event information, visit http://www.curling.ca/2016worldwomen/tickets/
For the complete results, standings, the schedule and much more, visit http://www.curling.ca/2016worldwomen/
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.