EDMONTON, ALBERTA – Japan won its second straight game at the men’s curling world championship with a 9-6 victory over the Netherlands but lost 7-4 to Scotland on Sunday, the second day of competition.
SC Karuizawa, which beat Italy 9-5 on Saturday as it looks to get a Japanese men’s team into the Olympics for the first time since the 1998 Nagano Winter Games, stands at two wins and one loss with five other teams while Canada sits alone on top with a 3-0 record.
The top four teams advance to the playoffs after the 12-team round-robin contest, with seven of the 10 berths to the Pyeongchang Olympics next February to be decided in Edmonton based on points awarded from team placing at the ongoing and last year’s worlds.
South Korea has an automatic berth as host of the 2018 Winter Games. The remaining two spots will be determined at the final Olympic qualification competition in the Czech Republic in December.
On Sunday morning, members of SC Karuizawa, which finished fourth last year, allowed the less-experienced Dutch team to draw 5-5 in the seventh end but kept their calm and scored four points in the eighth as skip Yusuke Morozumi executed a triple takeout.
“We were facing a team that we needed to get a win from so we were more nervous than usual,” Morozumi said of the Netherlands, ranked 16th in the world as opposed to Japan’s No. 9. “It’s a relief that we could overcome them.”
In the evening game against fourth-ranked Scotland, SC Karuizawa evened the score 3-3 in the fourth but gave up two points in the next end against the team that won the silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics as a representative of Britain.
A double takeout in the fifth as well as the sixth — when Japan had the hammer — helped the Scots lead by 6-3 en route to their win, but second Yamaguchi wasn’t too concerned about his team’s first loss.
“The level of our opponent went up and we fell behind through misplacing by half a stone,” he said. “(Competition) has only just begun and I’m not yet bothered by a defeat. Hopefully we can prepare well for the next game.”