Swiss win shoot-out in opening mixed doubles session
Joy for Perret and Rios as United States duo also open with victory
Switzerland’s Jenny Perret and Martin Rios held their nerve in a one-stone shoot-out to claim an opening victory over Canada in the first mixed doubles session at the Curling World Cup in Omaha.
Trailing 5-4 and with Canada holding the hammer going into the final end, the Swiss stole one to force the first shoot-out of the week here at the Ralston Arena.
Canada, for whom John Morris is teaming up with Kalynn Park while regular partner Kaitlyn Lawes plays in the Canada Cup, will have been reasonably happy to draw to within 18.5cm of the button.
Switzerland, however, drew to within an impressive 8.7cm to elicit a huge roar from Swiss coach Sebastian Stock. The win partially avenged the Swiss duo’s defeat to Morris and Lawes in February’s Olympic final.
Rios said of the shootout: “It’s something new. We have to get used to it, I think it’s a big challenge for the player. It’s all or nothing so you can't build up an end, it’s just one shot. It was my first one, so for now I am happy.
“For mixed doubles it’s a priority number one tournament. When you can play an event like this in an arena, it gives you so much experience for hopefully worlds. You get to play a two-time Olympic champion so for us it’s no question whether or not to play in the Curling World Cup.”
Morris reflected on Canada’s defeat: “We made a slight strategic error with my second-last shot, but they played well and we were average. It’s our first game here and the ice was a little tricky. It was straighter than we were expecting, but we’ve got to adjust quickly and come out stronger in the next one.
"It’s a double round robin so it’s not like we’re out of it, but we’ve got to pull up our socks, because if we play like that for the rest of the week we’ll be in some trouble.
“It’s Kalynn and I’s first game playing together. We’re feeling each other out a bit. We’re maybe not 100% comfortable with the ice but as the event goes on, we’ll get stronger and stronger.”
United States duo Tabitha Peterson and Joe Polo had a see-saw tussle with Norway’s Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten.
The hosts led 4-2 at the halfway stage but back came Norway to tie things up with two in the fifth end. It was a Polo take-out for three that proved the pivotal moment. Although Norway pulled it back to 7-6, two in the last end gave the scoreline a flattering look of 9-6.
“We want to be successful here. It would be great to make the final, so we’ll see how things go,” said Polo, who won an Olympic gold medal in February as alternate for Team John Shuster.
Peterson said of the Curling World Cup’s shot timings rules: “It’s pretty fun the way each end is timed, we have to be quicker than regular mixed doubles.”
Elsewhere, there was a convincing opening victory for Korean pair Hyeri Yang and Chiwon Choi over young Swedish duo Malin Wendel and Fabian Wingfors.
Up 3-2 at the fourth-end break, Korea pulled clear thereafter and handshakes were exchanged in the eighth with Korea leading 9-2. That puts Korea top of Group A ahead of Switzerland.
In Group B, Russia were the other winners in the first session. Anastasia Moskaleva and Alexander Eremin have already won two tour titles this year and showed their mutual understanding by beating China’s Wang Riu and Dexin Ba 8-5.