• Olympics & Paralympics

Curling-specific tiebreak rule helps Japan make semis

Reuters
Japan’s Chinami Yoshida reacts during a match against Switzerland at the Beijing Olympics on Thursday.

BEIJING — Japan’s women curlers finished their round-robin matches with a 5-4 record, the same as two other teams, but made it to the semifinals along with Great Britain at the expense of Canada.

With 8-1 Switzerland and 7-2 Sweden already into the semifinals, the two spots up for grabs would usually be determined by head-to-head records.

But Japan had beaten Canada and lost to Great Britain, which had lost to Canada, so the tiebreaker rule in this case came down to the draw shot challenge, or DSC. The British ranked eighth, Japan ranked ninth, and Canada was 10th.

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

On Friday at the National Aquatics Centre in Beijing, Japan is set to take on Switzerland again, hoping to learn from Thursday’s 8-4 loss.

Reuters
Japan’s Yumi Suzuki and Yurika Yoshida in action against Switzerland at National Aquatics Centre in Beijing on Thursday.

World No. 2 Switzerland, which defended its world championship last year, finished seventh in the Pyeongchang Games.

Japan has faced Switzerland in five consecutive Olympic Games, coming out with just one win. Even at the 2016 World Championships, Japan placed second, losing all three matches against Switzerland, including the final.

On Wednesday night, Japan pulled out a much-needed 10-7 victory over the United States to maintain their hopes of reaching the Olympic semifinals.

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.

Just as the 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.

“They caught up to us in the middle of the match, but [Yoshida] in particular encouraged me with positive words,” Fujisawa 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.”