Fujisawa gives Japan thrilling win over Denmark in women’s curling

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Japan team members celebrate their victory over Denmark in women’s curling at the Beijing Winter Olympics on Saturday.

BEIJING — Skip Satsuki Fujisawa’s super shot with the final stone gave Japan three points and a dramatic 8-7 come-from-behind victory over Denmark in women’s curling at the Beijing Winter Olympics on Saturday.

The victory gives Japan, which is aiming to medal for the second straight Olympics, a 2-1 record in the 10-team round robin competition at the National Aquatics Centre.

The team members are from Hokkaido-based national champion Loco Solare, and their teamwork helped pull off a victory in a match in which it continually had to play catch up against the Danes.

Denmark added a point in the ninth end to take a two-point lead into the 10th and final end, in which Japan had the advantage of going last. With the last of the 10 stones, Fujisawa knocked out two of Denmark’s stones in the house, leaving three Japanese stones closest to the center and giving Japan the thrilling win.

After neither team scored in the first end, Japan scored its first point with a steal in the second end.

Denmark picked up two points in the third, fifth and seventh ends, while Japan could only score two points in the fourth end, and was limited to single points in the others. Fujisawa’s final shot in the sixth end just missed giving two points,

A splendid shot in the seventh end by Madeleine Dupont gave Denmark two points and a 6-4 lead. The two teams traded single points over the next two ends, setting up the dramatic finish by Japan.

Big win over Canada

The victory came less than a day after Japan notched its first victory of the tournament by knocking off 2014 Olympic champion Canada 8-5 in the Friday afternoon session.

Japan led by a point when it managed a steal in the fourth end, and from there steadily scored points before Canada conceded in the 10th end when it became impossible to score the three points it needed to tie the match.

Not that Canada didn’t give it a good shot. In the 10th end, the Canadians still had hope when it had three stones in the house. But Fujisawa completed a skillful double take-out, forcing the Canadians to concede.

Her teammates’ cheerful shouts of “Sa-chan, nice!” echoed throughout the hall. The four gathered for a group hug on the ice to celebrate their first victory.

The key to Japan’s victory was the three steals it had early in the match, when it scored points despite being in the disadvantageous position of having to throw first. A perfect shot by Fujisawa in the seventh end, when she delicately knocked out the opponent’s scoring stone and gave Japan two points, also was decisive.

With precise shots and sweeps, they never allowed the Canadians to turn the tide.

The previous day, Japan allowed defending champion Sweden to rally to an 8-5 victory in their opening match. Reflecting on how to avoid making the same mistakes, the team was more discerning in discussing ice conditions, shot selection and other points.

“My shots became more stable, and we took our communication before shots up a notch,” Fujisawa said.

Canada, which went undefeated in winning the gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, is a powerhouse in the sport. “We’re enjoying the Olympics, and we won it our way,” said second Yumi Suzuki.