GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA – Japan jumped out to an early lead with a two-point steal in the first end and never looked back, winning its women’s curling preliminary match against the United States 10-5 at the Pyeongchang Olympics on Wednesday.
In a match between the only nations yet to win a women’s medal despite being among a group that has participated at every Olympic Games the event has been contested, Japan took a 7-0 lead into the fourth end at Gangneung Curling Centre, but the U.S. responded with three points of its own in the sixth end to cut the deficit to four.
The Japanese team, skipped by Satsuki Fujisawa, featured lead Chinami Yoshida, second Yumi Suzuki and third Yurika Yoshida.
The U.S. took advantage of a fluffed take-out by Fujisawa in the seventh and stole one to pull the score back to 8-5, but conceded the game after Japan drew to the button for a point in the ninth.
“We had our problems but it was good we managed to win,” Fujisawa said. “We were able to check out the condition of the ice so we’ll talk about what we can do better and make adjustments in the next match.”
Japan’s best finish in the Winter Games is a fifth place at the 2014 Sochi and 1998 Nagano Olympics.
In women’s curling, 10 teams compete in a round-robin preliminary round with the top four teams qualifying for the semifinals to be held Feb. 23. The medal matches are scheduled for Feb. 24-25.
The Japan men’s curling team secured its first Olympic berth in 20 years and faced Norway in its opener Wednesday evening.
On Tuesday, Canada won the mixed doubles competition in the event’s Olympic debut.