Sports

Japan mounts stunning comeback to beat Denmark for second curling win


Japanese skip Satsuki Fujisawa threw a pinpoint double takeout with the game’s final shot Saturday to complete a stunning 8-7 comeback win over Denmark in the Beijing Winter Olympics women’s curling round robin.

World No. 7 Japan came into the final regulation end at Beijing’s National Aquatic Centre trailing 7-5 before the 30-year-old Fujisawa secured three points and the victory with her precision shot with the hammer.

With three each in the house and Denmark closest to the button, Fujisawa found the perfect angle to remove two Danish stones and leave skip Madeleine Dupont and her team heartbroken.

“That shot was one I practiced throwing a lot before the tournament and I had a really strong mental image of it,” Fujisawa said.

“After that, it was just up to the sweepers and (Japan third Chinami Yoshida) calling the line, so I wasn’t worried.”

The 2018 Olympic bronze medal-winning team Loco Solare improved to 2-1 for the round robin ahead of its fourth game later in the day against the Russian Olympic Committee.

Coming off a morale-boosting win against traditional curling power Canada, Japan went back and forth with world No. 10 Denmark in a see-sawing battle.

Following a blank first end, Japan stole one in the second after Fujisawa used her final throw to guard against a double takeout.

Denmark finally scored with the hammer in the third, going up 2-1 before Japan hit straight back with a two-ender of its own in the fourth.

After the Danes added another two in the fifth, Japan narrowly missed out on a two-ender to leave the scores deadlocked 4-4 through six.

Dupont was on target in the seventh to give Denmark its third straight two-ender with the hammer, while Japan needed a precise raise from Fujisawa for a point in the following end to pull within one at 6-5 through eight.

With Denmark scoring one with the hammer in the ninth, Japan went into the final regulation end needing a two-ender just to stay in the contest.

But Fujisawa went one better with the hammer, pulling off the audacious double takeout to deliver the victory.

Wiping away tears, a crestfallen Dupont said Denmark would try to “find some kind of mental strength” after the agonizing loss.

“Right now it seems impossible, but we need to find it somewhere,” said Dupont, crediting her team for matching Japan for most of the game. “I honestly think both teams deserved to win this game. Because it was an excellently played game, and obviously Japan is super good, but we were just as good today.”

Japan coach J.D. Lind said the hard-fought win was important both for morale and for the team’s prospects of advancing in the tournament.

“Honestly for us, early in the competition, that’s such a huge game to keep our momentum and our confidence high going into the rest of the week,” the Canadian-born Lind said.

“Obviously if we lose that, we still have a good chance, as we have lots of games left, but that was a big one for us.”

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