Canada showed their star power in the morning session of the Audi quattro Winter Games Mixed Doubles curling tournament in Naseby today. Australia 1 ran them close all the way, and led by one going into the last end. With just Canada’s final stone to play the Aussies held two shots, one of them sitting on top of two Canadian stones and the other in the open.
The collective wisdom of the upstairs gallery was that Jennifer Jones’ only option was to hit the open stone, score one for Canada and take the game to an extra end.
Jones was having none of that though. With the timeclock counting down to zero, she threw a rocket to peel the Australian stone sitting on top of two Canadian rocks across to the other shot stone, which then rolled gently across the house. Her partner Brett Laing swept it frantically and got it just outside the Canadian stones still in the house to earn a remarkable 8-7 victory.
In the other early games, New Zealand 1 had an 8-3 win over NZ 3, and Scotland were clinical in their 9-1 result against the Finnish duo.
The Scots were delighted with their showing. “It felt really good, like we got back to our usual game,” said Fraser Kingan. We struggled a bit in the first two, it’s the start of the season for us so we’re just getting back on the ice and back into rhythm. That game we played really well, made them play some tough shots.”
Today’s afternoon draw saw Norway record a 7-4 win against Australia 2, USA head off Japan 12-2, and a crowd-pleasing win for NZ 2 when Bridget Becker had an open draw with her final shot to score 3 and beat Italy 7-6.
She was open about their performance to date. “We’ve been a bit slow starting, and struggling a bit.’” She said. “But we seem to just keep working our way back into the game, which is nice. We should try doing it earlier though.”
In yesterday’s late afternoon session Japan built an early lead and outlasted Italy 7-6, and the USA were dominant in a 9-3 win over Australia 2. New Zealand 2 fought back from a four point deficit to level the match coming home, but Norway used their powerplay to keep the house open and won 6-5.
In yesterday evening’s draw there were comfortable wins for Scotland, 12-4 against New Zealand 1, and for Canada, 13-1 over NZ 3.
The last game on the ice was the thriller of the first day. Australia 3 came back twice against Finland and forced the game to an extra end. The Finns seemed to have a shot to win well guarded as Tahli Gill lined up Australia’s final stone. Her raised in-off rolled to the button and a valiant effort from Markku Uusipaavalniemi to dislodge it only just failed, giving a 10-7 win to the young Aussie side.
“Yeah, we missed a few shots out there today, but that last one of Tahli’s in the extra end was certainly worth hanging around for,” said her partner Sam Williams after the game. “They were making their shots early, not giving us anything. But then we went more on the front foot, put some shots in there and made them chase us.”
After six sessions of play Canada lead Pool A with three wins, followed by NZ 1 and Scotland with two. Norway top Pool B with three from three, while NZ 2 and USA have two each.
Pool play continues at Naseby’s Maniototo Ice rink until Wednesday afternoon. Quarterfinals are on Wednesday evening, and the medals decided on Thursday.