Mixed Doubles - Medal Games
January 22, 2012
Nicole Muskatewitz from Germany and Michael Brunner from Switzerland made curling history on Sunday by becoming the first mixed nation mixed double team to win an Olympic Gold medal at the first ever Winter Youth Olympic Games.
In just six ends, the German-Swiss pair overwhelmed their opponents, Korea’s Eunbi Kim and Norway’s Martin Sesaker, to win the final 13-2. The Korean/Norwegian duo take Olympic Silver.
The Bronze medal was won by Marina Verenich from Russia and her American teammate Korey Dropkin. They beat Japan’s Mako Tamakuma and Korea’s Minhyeon Yoo 6-5 in a very tight game that went to an extra end.
It was the second gold medal for Switzerland’s Michael Brunner at the curling event at these Youth Olympic Games. Brunner skipped his Swiss team to victory in the mixed team curling competition earlier in the week. For his teammate, Nicole Muskatewitz, it was the first Olympic medal to be won by a German since curling became part of the Olympic programme again in 1998.
“Our opponents had some big shots and big mistakes” explained a delighted Brunner, “so the score is pretty high. But it’s really cool that we have won. We went to the final just thinking – let’s have some fun!”
“I am so happy, my feelings are confused!” admitted Muskatewitz. “I think we’ll celebrate and party tonight – he’s a double gold medallist and I think that should be celebrated!”
“I expected us to be able to make it to the quarters but I did not expect that we could make it to the final, so I am really happy,” conceded Norway’s Martin Sesaker. “I knew they were good, but we were unlucky. We had a few shots that were really tight to the guard and hit the guard, stones that were really important – key stones. So it went bad for us.”
Sesaker’s Korean teammate Kim said: “It’s disappointing because of the difference in the score, it’s a big gap.”
Nonetheless, taking Silver has given Kim something to celebrate, as she becomes the first Korean to win an Olympic medal in curling: “I am really happy. It’s so meaningful to me because I won the medal for the first time for Korea.”
The Bronze medal game came down to the very last stone of an extra end. In the eighth end, Russia’s Marina Verenich missed with her last shot and gave her Japanese-Korean opponents a chance to win the game there and then. But in turn, Japan’s Mako Tamakuma was short with her shot and could only take two, tying the game at 5-5.
In the extra end, Verenich had the chance to redeem herself with another high pressure last shot – as the Japan-Korea duo were lying shot stone. With Korey Dropkin from the US sweeping to help his teammate, Verenich’s draw just made it and they won the game 6-5. It is the first Olympic curling medal for Russia too.
“Everything feels awesome right now. I’m just so happy that we won a medal” said Dropkin who was very nervous about his teammate’s last shot. “But I knew that she would come through. She threw a great last shot and that’s all I could have asked for, and we won!”
“It’s a great honor for me. It was my dream and I’m really very happy that I could win a medal for Russia” said Verenich.
Minhyeon Yoo from Korea said he believed he and his Japanese teammate Tamakuma had a similar ability to their RUS/USA opponents but that they were unlucky. Yoo thought he and Tamakuma were going to win because when he looked at Verenich’s last stone, it looked like it was wide. Yoo says he closed his eyes and prayed at that point, when he opened his eyes he was so disappointed.
The Mixed Doubles Curling Competition at the Winter Youth Olympic Games saw every curling athlete taking part in the event paired together to form teams on different nationalities. The team line ups were decided on the final standings of the Mixed Team Curling Competition. In all, there were 32 teams at the start of the Mixed Doubles event. In a single knockout, teams had to win to stay in.
Instead of playing in teams of four, mixed doubles curling is for teams of two players – one male and one female. The game is played on the same sheets of ice as ‘traditional’ curling.
Teams have only six stones each (instead of eight) and one of those stones, from each team, is prepositioned on the centreline before each end of play starts. One player delivers the first and last stones and the other player plays the 2nd, 3rd and 4th stones. The two players can swap positions from one end to the next if they choose. The sweeping can be done by both team members.
Curling fans can see the scores from the event via the World Curling Federation micro-site: http://www.innsbruck2012.curlingevents.com
The World Curling Federation has also be updating regularly from the event via their fan feeds on Twitter http://twitter.com/worldcurling and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/WorldCurlingFederation