Japan settles for curling silver after crushing defeat

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The silver medal-winning Japan team, from left, alternate Kotomi Ishizaki, Yurika Yoshida, Yumi Suzuki, Chinami Yoshida and Satsuki Fujisawa, pose during the medal ceremony for women’s curling in Beijing on Sunday.

BEIJING — Looking to come up with a big shot that could turn the match, Japan could only watch as it was Britain that kept doing it, over and over.

Japan was stung for four points in the seventh end of a one-sided loss to Britain in the gold-medal match of women’s curling at the Beijing Winter Olympics on Sunday at the National Aquatics Centre.

The Japanese could only manage single points in three ends in falling 10-3, conceding after the ninth end for a less-than-satisfying end to a competition in which they finished with a well-earned silver medal — Japan’s highest finish at an Olympics since curling was added to the program at the 1998 Nagano Games.

The final was a rematch of the bronze-medal match at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, which Japan won when the British made a mistake on the final throw. That had been a bittersweet victory for Japan, which was hoping to make up for it with a strong showing in Sunday’s final.

But there would be no mistakes this time by the British squad led by skip Eve Muirhead, which capitalized on every opportunity to crush a Japanese team made up of the same Hokkaido-based Loco Solare members that played in Pyeongchang, including Chinami Yoshida, Yurika Yoshida and Yumi Suzuki.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever felt that a medal ceremony could be so regrettable,” skip Satsuki Fujisawa said. “When we won four years ago, I also felt happy when I took the medal podium. The color of the medal has changed one better from four years ago, but honestly I feel more disappointed now.

“Still, I’m very happy that we could compete together up to this point, and I’m proud of it.”

Chinami Yoshida echoed the sentiment, saying, “Right now, I’m very disappointed about the match and in myself. But this one defeat doesn’t invalidate everything we have done. I think we fought well over the past four years.”

The silver medal on the final day of the Beijing Games raised Japan’s overall tally to 18, the most-ever for the nation at a single Winter Olympics.

Britain, which beat Japan 10-4 in the preliminary round, opened the final with a two-point first end, forcing Japan to play catch-up the entire match. A steal in the fifth end put the British up 4-1, before the four-point seventh end all but clinched the deal and gave Britain its second gold medal in the event, adding to its victory at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

Sweden took the bronze with a 9-7 win over Switzerland on Saturday.