Naseby, 26 August – There were some big matchups in the opening two rounds of the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ Mixed Doubles curling tournament in Naseby today.
The Norway and USA sides both reached the playoff rounds of the World Mixed Doubles Championships in April this year, and their game in the opening round was keenly anticipated. USA made the most of their last stone advantage in the first end to score 3, but there was nothing in it after three ends. A big 4-point end by Norway in the fifth gave them an advantage they maintained, and they ran out 10-6 winners.
Magnus Ramsjfell agreed that the fourth end was key. “It was some turnover in that end,” he said. “They were sitting quite well, and we had a runback that just worked, everything came out perfectly and it really turned the game around. It was looking like a steal [for USA] all the way until then. You just need some of those shots now and then to make the difference.”
New Zealand 2 controlled their match throughout to head Japan 6-3, and Italy looked good in their 11-4 win over Australia 2.
“We struggled a little bit in the first couple of ends,” said Italy’s Marco Pascale. “Once we got a hang on the ice, we got some control. Making a few doubles was key and we played much better.”
Scotland played Canada in the feature game of the second session. It was two singles each through the first four ends, but Canada broke the deadlock with a spectacular 5-point end in the fifth and went on to win 11-4.
Canada’s Jennifer Jones said afterwards, “It was a great way to start the tournament, we figured out the ice pretty well early on. We played a really good team but made some shots – we had to – and found a way to win.”
“We were surprised to see Scotland v Canada first game,” added her husband and playing partner Brent Laing. “We’re always excited to play Scotland – as they are to play Canada, and we joked about that last night. It was just a shot here and there, we snapped one big end and that made the difference. If we make the playoffs we’ll see them again I’m sure.”
Australia 1 squeezed out a 7-6 win against New Zealand 3, and in the other Trans-Tasman battle New Zealand 1 was too strong for Australia 3, the teams shaking hands at 13-1 after six ends.
The NZ 1 side had an unsuccessful National Championship run just two weeks earlier, so were understandably pleased with their result.
“We were happy to just get out there on the ice,” commented Brett Sargon. “We want to play as well as we can, enjoy ourselves and see where it takes us.”
Thivya Jeyaranjan added, “We were just focusing on the basics, making sure we got our shots right and the communication going.”
Pool play continues at Naseby’s Maniototo Ice rink until Wednesday afternoon. Quarterfinals are on Wednesday evening, and the medals decided on Thursday.