GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - The Japan women’s curling team suffered its first loss of the Pyeongchang Olympics on Saturday, the foursome letting an early lead slip from its fingers to lose 7-6 against China.
Skip Satsuki Fujisawa and crew stole a point to make it 3-0 in the second end, though a heavy last throw in the sixth end, meant it missed on recording an easy second shot and ultimately proved to be the team’s undoing.
China’s decision to blank the seventh end paid off when it followed up with three points to take the lead at 6-5. Japan equalized in the 10th to carry the game into an extra end, but could not keep China skip Wang Bingyu from clinching it with a simple, unimpeded draw to the button.
“There are nine matches in the prelims so I knew we would lose at some point. It was a good game so I want to stay optimistic,” Fujisawa said afterward.
At the conclusion of the fifth round-robin session, the loss leaves Japan second in the standings behind two-time Olympic champion Sweden and tied with Great Britain, after wins against the United States, Denmark and South Korea. The team next plays against the Olympic Athletes from Russia on Saturday evening.
In the men’s competition, Japan capitalized on some missteps by the Italians for a 6-5 win, the team’s second victory of four games in Pyeongchang.
Japan took the upper hand early in the game with several exceptional throws by skip Yusuke Morozumi, taking the team into the second half of the 10-end game with a 5-3 lead.
Italy failed to capitalize on a chance at two points in the seventh end when its fourth thrower, vice skip Amos Mosaner, put too much weight on his penultimate stone and sent it sailing past the house.
A steal by Italy in the ninth end made it 5-5, but Morozumi used his last-throw advantage in the final end to seal the deal.
The win puts Japan tied with the United States, which the team is up against next on Sunday, for fourth in the standings after six round-robin sessions.
“The ice was slicker than I expected at the start, but we were able to read it as it changed,” Morozumi said. “The Americans are in the middle of the pack, same as us, so we need a win in the next game to move up in the standings.”