GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA – The sixth-ranked Japanese women’s curling team suffered its second loss of round-robin play Monday after an 8-3 defeat to Canada in the preliminary round at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
In their sixth game at Gangneung Curling Centre, the Japanese foursome allowed Canada to get on the scoreboard first with a single point steal in the first end, and let the top-ranked Canadian team capitalize on their mistakes to pull away for victory.
Japan skip Satsuki Fujisawa played a raise shot to score the game-tying point in the second end, but a failed shot from Fujisawa and an accurate take-out by opposing skip Rachel Homan added four points to Canada’s score to make it 6-1 in the fifth end.
“It wasn’t really about our opponents, it was that we weren’t able to play our game and that has to change,” Fujisawa said.
“In the next game, what’s going to be important is focusing on reading the ice from the first half and communicating,” she said.
Japan managed to win another two points in the sixth end but it proved too little too late as Canada, with its back against the wall, improved to 3-3 to keep alive hopes of advancing to the semifinals.
Japanese third Chinami Yoshida agreed that Japan, which got off to a 3-0 start before losing to China, could have played better and adjustments will have to be made heading into the team’s second game of a doubleheader.
“We can’t blame our opponents, we ruined it ourselves. We still have another match to play tonight so we said we’d concede if they scored two points in the seventh end (which they did),” Yoshida said.
The top four teams advance to the semis with the medal matches scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
The Japanese were scheduled to face Sweden later Monday night.
Japan’s men didn’t fare much better on Sunday night, suffering a big loss against Sweden that offset a similarly large early win over the United States earlier in the day.
The Japanese foursome’s celebrations over the team’s 8-2 beatdown of the U.S. were brought to an abrupt end at the hands of unbeaten Sweden in a stunning 11-4 defeat.
In contrast to his tight earlier play, Japanese skip Yusuke Morozumi’s missed draw in the opening end against Sweden put Japan in a three-point hole from the get-go, and another in the third end left the team staring at a 5-1 deficit.
The crew hung in, though, and brought it within three points after a double take-out with the hammer in the fifth end, and cut the gap to two with a two-shot hammer draw in the seventh end, but that was as close as the team got to the Sochi bronze medalists.
The Swedes had four in the house with the button covered late in the eighth end, and all Morozumi could do was put a lone draw in the mix. Sweden skip Niklas Edin capitalized on the opportunity with a flawless take-out for a massive five-point end, forcing Japan to concede.
“The stones were more polished so the curve was more pronounced. I didn’t adjust to it as well as our opponent did. I haven’t had any experience in the tournament with stones like that,” said Morozumi.
After Sunday’s two matches, Japan sits in fourth place ahead of Tuesday’s meeting with three-time defending champion Canada. The team then has two more matches — against Denmark and South Korea — to try to book a place in the final four.