The USA were the first team to qualify for the knock-out stages of the Mixed Team Curling Competition at the first Winter Youth Olympic Games, after continuing their undefeated run with an 11-1 win over the Czech Republic in the Blue Group.
Canada, Japan and Sweden also kept up their good form in this morning’s first games, in Red Group Session 5. The three teams posted impressive victories to top the group with three wins and one loss each after four games.
Canada recorded the biggest victory of the session, beating Russia 7-1 after six ends. With the game never in doubt, the Canadian team continue to pick up momentum as the round robin stages of the tournament reaches the latter stages.
Canadian Skip Thomas Scoffin, believes that their success is down to good teamwork. He said: “We didn’t have the strongest of starts but we played smart, that was the key. Communication is very important for our team. We’ve had the chance to work together a lot back home, we’ve played in tournaments and we’ve played in training camps. So we’re used to each other and we’ve got great team chemistry and it’s showing right now.”
He added: “It feels good to get these wins under our belt. It was disappointing losing the first game but perhaps it was a blessing in disguise as it made us pull up our socks and we’re feeling really good now.”
Japan joined Canada in joint first place after beating Great Britain 7-5, stealing two points in an extra end to win the game. This win leaves them with a record of three wins and one loss. Sweden finished the session with the same record after winning their game against Austria 7-5. The Swedish took the initiative in the seventh end and stole two points to seal the victory.
Italy notched up an impressive win against Germany, winning 9-3 in seven ends which included a steal of four in the last end. Afterwards, Italy Skip, Amos Mosaner, was relieved to beat a German team who have been playing well.
He said: “It was very important wins for us yesterday and today. The game against Sweden was very hard – they are a great curling team. But my whole team played very well and I’m really happy with them. Of course I would like to play better in all of our games but I was very impressed with my team’s performance and hope we can continue our good form.”
Red Group Standings after Session 5
1 CAN – Canada 4 3 1
1 JPN – Japan 4 3 1
1 SWE – Sweden 4 3 1
4 AUT – Austria 4 2 2
4 ITA – Italy 4 2 2
4 RUS - Russian Federation 4 2 2
7 GER – Germany 4 1 3
8 GBR – Great Britain 4 0 4
Afterwards, in the Blue Group, Session 5, the USA kept up their flawless record with an 11-1 win over the Czech Republic. Like their North American neighbours Canada, teamwork has been the basis for their success.
USA Second, Tom Howell, said: “Korey and I have been playing together for about five or six years now. We met at a little rock bonspiel a while ago when we were around eight or nine, our parents got us together and we played together for a few years. Now we’re taking it more seriously – we’re here and we’re hoping to go to the World Juniors’ this year. It’s actually quite funny because our parents have been wanting to come to Europe for quite a while now and this event has been the perfect excuse for them.”
He added: “The whole point of curling is working as a team. The key to a successful team is good chemistry, good communication and luckily we have been together enough to know each other well. Playing with the girls works out well, we’ve been good friends a while.”
In the other game, Switzerland got their campaign back on track with a 7-3 win over China. A score of four in the seventh end wrapped up the game for them, which gives them a record of four wins and one loss, leaving them in second spot.
Estonia picked up their first win of the competition, beating Korea 7-5 thanks to a steal of two in the eighth end to win. Afterwards, Skip Marie Turmann was ecstatic. She said: “It was really exciting but I was really scared when I was about to throw that last stone. I’ve only felt pressure like that once before in curling. To make that last shot count was just an amazing feeling and I want to experience that again hopefully with another win.”
She added: “It was tough losing our first games. We didn’t play that badly but we just missed a few important shots. We’ve only been together four months because we only found out in September after Finland withdrew from the event. It has been a great experience and we’ve made lots of new friends from many different sports and many different countries.”
Blue Group Standings after Session 5
1 USA - United States of America (Qualified) 5 5 0
2 SUI – Switzerland 5 4 1
3 CZE - Czech Republic 5 3 2
4 CHN – China 5 2 3
4 NOR – Norway 5 2 3
4 NZL - New Zealand 5 2 3
7 EST – Estonia 5 1 4
7 KOR – Korea 5 1 4
The Mixed Team competition runs until January 18 with bronze and gold medal games being played at 17:00 local time. The final standings of the Mixed Teams will then determine the teams for the unique Mixed Doubles competition where one male and one female curler, from different nations, join together in the second curling competition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games.
Curling fans will be able to keep up to date with the latest scores from the event via the World Curling Federation micro-site: http://www.innsbruck2012.curlingevents.com
The World Curling Federation will also be updating regularly from the event via their fan feeds on Twitter http://twitter.com/worldcurling and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/WorldCurlingFederation
A daily highlights video clip covering all of the Winter Olympic sports taking place at the Games will be available on the Innsbruck 2012 YouTube site http://www.youtube.com/innsbruck2012