SAPPORO – Taiwan advanced to the semifinals of the men’s curling tournament at the Asian Winter Games with a 13-2 victory over Kazakhstan on Tuesday evening.
China improved to 5-0 with a 14-5 win over already eliminated Qatar, while Japan lost 8-4 to South Korea.
Wednesday’s semifinals will see Taiwan’s curlers (2-3) take to the ice at Sapporo Curling Stadium against the Chinese, who had defeated them 7-3 in the round robin. The other semifinal will pit Japan (3-2) and South Korea (4-1).
Taiwan skip Randolph Shen said the key against China will be for his team to stick to its game plan, one element of which is to remember to have fun on the ice.
“One of our goals coming in was (making) the playoffs,” Shen told Kyodo News. “We felt that with the teams taking part here, the playoffs were definitely in reach. We also try to bring fun back into the game. A lot of teams out there are ultra serious. At the end of the day this is an amateur game.
“We try to keep it laid back, but we are pretty serious when it comes to making shots. We try to smile out there. We don’t try to be grumpy or smash brooms or things like that. Nobody tries to miss, but we do have fun.”
Shen, born in Hong Kong into a family from Taiwan, learned curling after moving to Vancouver, and will now try to lead his team into uncharted waters. Taiwan has one fourth-place Asian Games finish to its name.
“We did have a very good game against them (China),” Shen said. “We know we’ll have to be sharp. With a little bit of luck and some good play, we’ll be all right.”
Earlier, South Korea’s women completed their perfect run in the round-robin phase, with an 18-1 win over Kazakhstan, which finished 1-3 to finish fourth.
The two teams will square off in the semifinals. China and Japan, too, will get another crack at each other after China won Tuesday’s match 8-5.
LS Kitami, the club representing Japan in the competition, overcame a three-point deficit with a point in the sixth end. But by scoring, it handed the Chinese the hammer for the seventh end and surrendered four points to make it 8-4.
“We responded to their scoring chance with a series of mistakes,” skip Satsuki Fujisawa said of the collapse.