9 December 2018

Japan clinch women's final after last-stone drama

Team Fujisawa book their tickets to Beijing after sensational finish in Omaha

Japan won an unbearably tense women's Curling World Cup final against Korea in Omaha which went right down to the final stone.

Korea's Team Minji Kim had the hammer and a 6-5 lead going into the last end at the Ralston Arena, but were left with a tricky draw with the very last shot, with Japan lying three.

Skip Kim's critical shot was too heavy, running past the button to the rear of the house. Japanese skip Satsuki Fujisawa, third Chinami Yoshida, second Yumi Suzuki and lead Yurika Yoshida celebrated a steal of two and a victory that had looked unlikely at many points throughout the contest.

Korea had made the first big move of the final by scoring four in the second end and they led 5-3 at the fourth-end break. That was extended to 6-3 with a steal - and but for a close measure it could have been 7-3.

Celine Stucki / WCF

There was a further setback for Japan when they were off-target with a nose hit in the sixth end that could have earned them two and headed into the last two ends 6-4 down.

However, Kim's failed attempted at a run-back in the seventh end gave Japan a steal of one and hope heading into the last trailling 6-5.

Korea had the hammer, but Japan were soon lying three - evenly spread around the house - as Kim prepared to deliver her final stone to win the game. She overshot it, and Japan's tickets to the Curling World Cup Grand Final in Beijing were booked for May.

"I'm just so happy," Fujisawa beamed afterwards. "We didn't win any championship so I'm very excited. We have great sweepers and good team-mates and we had a really good game. We are very happy that we now get to play in Beijing."

Korean skip Kim was understandably more downcast, saying: "In this game we made many mistakes so we will have to try to adjust our teamwork like our sweeping and we will reset.

"The first four ends, we were very confident with our shots but the last four ends we couldn’t control our timing so I was rushing on my shots. Since we are so young we have many chances in the future. We have kept the same team since we were in high school, so hopefully we will get another chance."

As well as a place in the Grand Final and $USD 20,000 (plus group stage earnings), Team Fujisawa avenged their loss to the same opponents in the recent Pacific-Asia Curling Championships final, in which they blew a big lead in the last two ends.

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