Japan’s curling team keeps semifinal hopes alive

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Japan’s Satsuki Fujisawa gives instructions to teammates in their match against the United States in Olympic women’s curling on Wednesday night.

BEIJING — Japan’s women curlers pulled out a much-needed victory over the United States on Wednesday night to maintain their hopes of reaching the Olympic semifinals.

The 10-7 triumph gave Japan a 5-3 record heading into its final round-robin match against Switzerland on Thursday afternoon at the National Aquatics Centre in Beijing.

If Japan beats Switzerland, which like Sweden has already qualified for the semis, it will make the semifinals. Even with a loss, Japan has a chance to advance depending on the results of Thursday’s other matches.

The Japan team consists of players from the Hokkaido club team Loco Solare, which won a bronze medal at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

In the match against the United States, Japan ran out to a 4-0 lead and was up 7-3 after the sixth end. Then in the seventh end, a series of errors allowed the Americans to take an astounding four points to even the score.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Japan’s curling team celebrates its victory over the United States on Wednesday at the Beijing Olympics.

Just as momentum seemed to shift, Japan’s curlers regained their composure to grab two points in the eighth. The U.S. team had a chance to even the score again in the ninth end, but failed with its last stone to beat Japan’s position at the target, allowing Japan to take another point for a 10-7 lead.

In the 10th and final end, the Americans threatened again to tie the score, but vice skip Chinami Yoshida’s successful hit and roll ended the threat, before skip Satsuki Fujisawa wiped the U.S. stones off the target with a double take-out. With only two stones remaining, the Americans had to concede the match.

“Today’s win is a big one as we are in a difficult situation in terms of our record in the round-robin stage,” Fujisawa said.

“They caught up to us in the middle of the match, but [Yoshida] in particular encouraged me with positive words,” she said. “Even when we felt down, as a team we overcame the situation. It was good that we always believed we would win and we did.”