Historic win for hosts on historic day for curling

  • Team Korea compete in historic mixed doubles Olympic debut Photo © WCF / Richard Gray

On a day of historic curling firsts, and as the other teams stepped aside momentarily, Korea's Hyeji Jang delivered the opening stone of the first session of mixed doubles round-robin play at the Gangneung Curling Centre as curling's 21st century discipline made its Olympic debut.

This was the first competitive action of the entire Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 and Korea's eventual 9-4 win over Finland also gave the host nation their first win of the Games.

Other first round winners were: United States, who had a 9-3 win over the Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR) team; Norway who beat Canada by 9-6; and current world champions Switzerland, who had a 7-5 extra-end win over China.

In their game against the Finns, Korea opened with a steal of three points when Finland's Oona Kauste was heavy and went through the house with her final draw of the first end. Korea had single point steals in the next two ends before, in the fourth end, Finland used their power play option, and Kauste hit and stayed with her last stone to score one point and reduce Korea's lead to 5-1 at the halfway point.

Finland stole two more points in the fifth end and one more point in the sixth end to reduce the Korea lead to 5-4, but, when Kauste's last stone of the seventh end wrecked on a guard, Korea's Jang had a straightforward draw for four points and a 9-4 lead, after which Finland conceded.

The United States' sister and brother team of Becca and Matt Hamilton faced the married couple Anastasia Bryzgalova and Aleksandr Krushelnitckii of the OAR team, and it was United States who took the early lead when Becca Hamilton played a double take-out to score three points in the first end.

The OAR team scored two points in the seventh end but, after stealing a single point in the fourth end, the United States went into the break 5-2 ahead. The Hamiltons consolidated their lead with a steal of two points in the fifth end and a further score of two points in the seventh end to emerge as 9-3 winners.

In the Canada versus Norway game, Norway's Kristin Skaslien promoted one of her own stones on the wing to tap-out a Canadian stone lying on the button to score three points in the second end for a 3-1 lead.

Canada's Kaitlyn Lawes responded in the third end with a draw for three points. The teams were level at 4-4 after four ends and again - at 6-6 after six ends, but a single point steal in the seventh end then a further steal of two points in the eighth end gave Norway a 9-6 win.

Both Canadian players - John Morris as well as Lawes - are Olympic champions in team curling from previous Games, and this was a first-ever Olympic defeat for each of them.

In the fourth game of the session, current world champions Switzerland faced China.

China took a 3-2 lead into the fourth-end break and they moved this on to 4-3 in the sixth end with a draw for one point by Rui Wang. In the eighth end, Switzerland led by 5-4 and Wang played a last stone that looked like it might be close enough to score two points and give her team the win.

However, in preparing for an umpire's measure that would determine the end-score, stones were accidentally touched, nullifying the measure position, giving China a score of one point for a 5-5 score-line, and forcing an extra end. Switzerland scored two in that extra end to seal a 7-5 win.

For flash quotes from the opening day of the mixed doubles competition visit http://www.wcf.co/2ENXkQ5

Mixed doubles session one results: United States 9-3 Olympic Athlete from Russia; Canada 6-9 Norway; Korea 9-4 Finland; China 5-7 Switzerland.

Standings after mixed doubles session one (win-loss):

Korea 1-0
Norway 1-0
Switzerland 1-0
United States 1-0
Canada 0-1
China 0-1
Finland 0-1
Olympic Athlete from Russia 0-1

For all the curling action from the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 follow the World Curling Federation on Facebook (/WorldCurlingFederation) Twitter and Instagram (@worldcurling) and use the hashtags: #curling #PyeongChang2018