Japan Wins First-Ever Medal in Mixed Doubles Curling at the World Championship
Chiaki Matsumura and Yasumasa Tanida went 8-1 in round-robin play in South Korea and nabbed the silver with a loss to the United States in the curling final.
Japan claimed its first ever world mixed doubles medal in curling on Saturday, April 29, collecting the silver after an 8-2 loss to the United States in the final of the 2023 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship.
In Gangneung, South Korea, the Americans opened the final with a steal of one in the first end.
Then, in the second end, Japan missed an opportunity on a light draw and the Americans stole two points for a 3-0 lead that set the tone for the final.
The Japanese team of Chiaki Matsumura and Yasumasa Tanida opened its account with a single point in the third end after a double take-out attempt.
In the fourth end, the US pair of Korey Dropkin and Cory Thiesse took control with two points for a 5-1 advantage. Another steal in the fifth gave the Americans a commanding 6-1 lead.
Thiesse sealed the win with two more points in the seventh to give her team an 8-2 lead, which forced Japan to concede.
"Today, our performance wasn't great and they played really well," Tanida said. "We started the week with eight wins in a row, so it was a fantastic week for us."
Road to the Final for Japan's Curling Team
Japan reached Saturday's final after beating Norway 5-4 in the semifinals on Friday. Before the win over Norway, Japan beat Germany 7-6, the US 7-5, Sweden 8-7, England 12-7, Austria 9-2, Norway 10-8, Turkey 7-4 and Spain 7-5 before a 9-1 loss to Switzerland on Day 6.
Before this year's tournament, Japan's best finish in mixed doubles at the world championship was fifth place in 2018 and 2019.
Tanida said the silver-medal winning performance was a great experience for the pair.
"I realized how tough it is to make it to the finals," said Tanida. "As a member of the men's team I've faced many obstacles over the years. But this week I made it to the final and I'm proud of our results. I hope this will help promote curling in Japan."
Norway beat Canada by a score of 6-2 to take the bronze medal.
By the third end, Norway was leading 2-1. The Europeans increased their lead after single-point steals in the fourth and fifth ends for a 4-1 advantage.
The two teams traded singles in the sixth and seventh ends to make the score 5-2 for Norway. The Norwegian team of Mathias Braenden and Martine Roenning added another steal in the eighth to complete the scoring.
The World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship is for teams of one female and one male from the World Curling Federation's Americas, European and Pacific-Asia zones.
Author: Jim Armstrong
The author is a longtime journalist who has covered sports in Japan for over 25 years. You can find his articles on SportsLook.