8 December 2018

Perfect day for women's trio to set up tense group finale

Celine Stucki / WCF

Women's group stage set for thrilling conclusion on Saturday

Korea, Canada and Japan all posted two victories each as a packed schedule of women’s action produced plenty of drama - and a shock elimination - on day three in Omaha.

The early exit in question was for Sweden’s all-conquering Team Hasselborg – finalists in the Curling World Cup first leg in Suzhou and winners of their last five tournaments.

They were comfortable 7-3 winners over China in their morning match, stealing in four successive ends, but a dramatic 5-4 evening defeat to Japan on the last stone means they now cannot make Sunday’s final.

After their morning victory Hasselborg offered an explanation for their dip in form this week. “We are tired after the Europeans and ever thing that we’ve done this fall. I think a little bit of last season is also there in the mix. There has been lots of things going on – like we were in Japan [for ANOC Awards] only last week.

“We approach each event on its own and we try to stay focused on every shot and every game. We’ve done that so far this season and so far it’s been working great for us. We lost a little bit of that feeling coming into this tournament.”

The Swedes were tied at 4-4 going into the last end with Team Fujisawa, but the Japanese rink had the hammer and Fujisawa’s draw for one was perfect to seal the win. They now top the group on 12 points, with Scotland still in contention on nine. Sweden (three) and China (zero) are out.

Celine Stucki / WCF

Team Muirhead went into the final end of their midday game against Japan with a two-point lead but conceded three in an agonising last end to slip to a 7-6 loss. They atoned partially in the evening by convincingly swatting aside China 10-3.

Third Jennifer Dodds said: “After this morning's disappointing loss, when we were two up down the last, this was a good bounce-back game. We were determined to stamp our authority out there.

"We're still a new team. We've had less than 20 games together so far, when most other teams have had a lot more, but I feel like every game we're learning something new and making those foundations stronger and stronger."

In Group A, there were last-stone victories for both Korea's Team Minji Kim and Canadians Team Tracy Fleury, putting them both on nine points at the top, with United States’ Team Jamie Sinclair still in with a shout on six. Russia’s Team Kovaleva are out on zero.

Team Kim had earlier beaten Russia comfortably 6-2, but their later 8-7 win over Team Sinclair came right down to the wire. A nip-and-tuck affair was poised at 7-7 before the last end, but Korea crucially had the hammer. Kim had a draw to the button to win it and it initially looked a little too short, but the sweepers did a magnificent job to win by a couple of inches.

On that last shot, the 18-year-old skip said: “I’m confident with the draw rather than the hit and our sweepers were really good. At the first leg [in Suzhou] we were a little bit nervous but now at this leg we can enjoy it a little bit more so that is a big positive.”

On the next sheet, Team Fleury recorded their second win of the day, after a tense morning win over Team Sinclair, by beating Team Kovaleva 7-6, also on the last stone.

Team Fleury’s morning win over United States saw Jamie Sinclair require a hit-and-stick to force a one-stone shoot-out, but her shot was off line.

Fleury said: “Today there were a couple of really great games for us. We really feel like we have some momentum now. There were so many deuces [against Scotland], so getting the first force in the seventh end and taking the hammer into the last end was the turning point.”

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