1 January 2019

Japan’s Iwai and Koana set for Jonkoping

© WCF / Jeffrey Au

Japan aiming for two spots in the Grand Final.

Fresh from their success in Omaha, Japan have revealed their rinks for the European leg of the Curling World Cup in Jonkoping, Sweden next month.

The Japan Curling Federation has named Team Tori Koana as their representatives in the women’s event for leg three, while Team Masaki Iwai will compete on the men’s side of the draw.

Team Koana are no strangers in wearing Japanese colours, as the rink competed for Japan at the World Women’s Curling Championships earlier in 2018 in Ontario, Canada, picking up five wins and finishing 10th out of 13.

The rink’s vice-skip is Arisa Kotani, who plays lead, while her sister Yuna is the team’s second. Mao Ishigaki – a former world junior bronze medallist – completes the quartet as their third.

“It is an honour to go to the Curling World Cup as Team Japan. This will be the first time we have been to Sweden and we are so excited to go,” said skip Koana, who is aiming to make it two Japanese rinks in May’s Grand Final.

“Curling has never been more popular in Japan before because of Team Satsuki Fujisawa’s winning. Many people that support curling in Japan are very happy for us also.”

© WCF / Céline Stucki

Team Masaki Iwai will have a second opportunity at reaching the Grand Final in Beijing after their disappointing leg one performance in Suzhou, where they lost every game and finished bottom of their group.

However, the rink has had success this year, winning their maiden title at the season-opening Hokkiado Bank Curling Classic in August and reached the Karuizawa International final last week, before being defeated by Omaha champions Team John Shuster.

Go Aoki is the team’s fourth, with skip Masaki Iwai continuing as third, while second Ryotaro Shukuya and Kouki Ogiwara complete the line-up.

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