Olympic Winter Games - Day 1 - WOMEN

Women: Session 1: JPN 9-7 USA, SWE 6-5 DEN, GER 9-5 RUS, CAN 5-4 SUI

The opening session of the Women's Curling tournament saw nip-and-tuck battles on almost every sheet as Canada, Sweden and Japan eked out narrow victories over Switzerland, Denmark and the United States of America. In the fourth game, Germany handled the Russian Federation with relative ease.

The crowd at the Vancouver Olympic Centre, getting rowdier by the session, was most engaged by the Canada-Switzerland contest on Sheet D. Home support for the Canadian Women was louder than it had been for the Men earlier in the day. Swiss fans also made an auditory impression, with their cowbells and New Year's Eve-style grater noisemakers often making the event sound like a Downhill ski race.

The Canadians and Swiss stood even at 3-3 after the first seven ends. Two tactical decisions in the eighth and ninth were perhaps more pivotal than any single shot. In the eighth, with the hammer, Canadian skip Cheryl BERNARD (CAN) opted to draw for a single rather than blanking the end, and Canada went up 4-3. In the eighth, Swiss skip Mirjam OTT (SUI) faced a similar decision and she also chose to draw for one rather than trying a chancy takeout for a blank. After the ninth the teams were tied again 4-4.

USA Skip Debbie McCormick Photo : WCF

BERNARD decided the game with a tidy draw into the four-foot with her final stone. Canada emerged with a 5-4 victory.

On Sheet A, Japan defeated the United States 9-7 in a game defined by inconsistent play by both skips.

The United States moved ahead 3-0 in the second by stealing two, as Japanese skip Moe MEGURO (JPN) was light with her final stone and failed to remove either of the USA's two counters.

Japan fought back and tied at four with three in the fifth. They took three again in the seventh, after two poor throws by USA skip Debbie MCCORMICK (USA). With her first stone MCCORMICK missed a takeout and, with her second, only removed one on an attempted double, leaving MEGURO an easy draw for three and a 7-6 lead.

The USA went into the tenth end with the hammer, down 8-7. MCCORMICK was again put to the test with her last stone, needing to remove the Japanese shot rock from the button to tie the game. But her touch failed again and Japan earned a steal to win 9-7.

On Sheet B, the Denmark-Sweden game, featured no great shot-making but no egregious errors. There were no big ends and no steals until the 10th, when Danish fourth Madeleine DUPONT (DEN), with the last stone, needed to make a difficult draw around Sweden's shot rock in the top of the four to break a
5-5 tie. She threw a little heavy, giving Sweden a steal of one and a 6-5 victory.

On Sheet C, Germany, the session's steadiest-looking team, defeated an uninspired Russian Federation rink 9-5.