Robust competition in the men’s curling has forced a tiebreaker match for fourth position in the semi-finals at the indoor Maniototo Curing International rink. China and USA went into the round with three wins and three losses each behind Korea, Japan and Australia who each had five wins and one loss. Both China and USA won their respective games resulting in the need for the tiebreaker.
USA played Korea, holding its own with even scores until it pulled ahead in the seventh end, stealing two points. Korea was unable to match it and USA took charge to score three in the ninth end, beating Korea, 9-5. China’s game with Australia was long and intense and another even scoring game until the seventh end when China started to edge away. Australia stayed in the game, but China prevailed, winning 6-4.
Japan won decisively against Czech Republic, 8-2. New Zealand beat Canada in its second win of the tournament and while neither team was a contender for the semi-finals, they had a highly competitive game with a final score of 6-5 to New Zealand.
In the men’s semi-finals Japan, first-placed in the standings, will play the fourth-placed team, either China or USA depending on who wins the morning’s tiebreaker. Korea, second-placed, will play Australia who is third-placed in the standings. At six on the board is New Zealand, Czech Republic is number seven and Canada is eighth.
In the final women’s round China showed its world champion class to beat Japan, 12-2. New Zealand won its game against Australia earning it a place in the semi-finals. New Zealand beat Australian soundly with a score of 10-5. New Zealand coach Peter Becker said the team had been playing really well and he was pleased they had made the semis. “They’ve been so close in such a lot of games that they deserve to be there.”
New Zealand women play China in the semi-finals. The world champions beat them confidently in the round robin, but Peter Becker said they were ready for the challenge. “They know they are a lot better than they were earlier in the week,” he said of the New Zealand players.
The women’s other semi-final is between second-placed Japan and third-placed Korea. In the standings China was first, Japan second, Korea third and New Zealand fourth. Australia was placed fifth with no wins on the board.
The earlier women’s ninth round caused great excitement in the spectators’ gallery. The Australian women’s team put in a stunning performance against world champion, China. Australia went in as the underdog, but started strongly with a score of three in the first end and a further steal of two in the second. The game looked like it could go either way throughout with the score tying twice, first, going into the sixth end at 5-5 and, crucially, going into the tenth end at 8-8. It was a tense last end where China used its last stone advantage to win the game, 10-8. New Zealand played a very strong game against Korea right up to a nail-biting finish in the tenth end. New Zealand went into the final end with a one point lead, but didn’t make its final play leaving the way open for Korea to capitalise on its last stone advantage to score four points and win 11-8.
The ice sheets at Naseby’s Maniototo Curling International are in premium shape for the final games. “Curling ice gets better when it gets some play on it,” said Canadian ice master Doug Wright. “It seems to mature.”
After every game Doug Wright pebbles (sprays droplets of warm water) on to the ice sheets. These freeze immediately and he then goes over them with a power scrapper, which has a sharp blade that slices off the top of the pebbles. “It leaves a flatter surface; a better grabbing surface; it makes it keener and it makes it curl more,” said Doug Wright.
100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games continues tomorrow (28 August) with a men’s tiebreaker and the men’s and women’s semi-finals.