Words and images by Laura Crocker
KARUIZAWA, Japan – The completion of the round robin finds both Canadian teams in the playoffs!
We finished with a 5-2 record, as did Korea, but our win against them puts us in first place. The boys also had a 5-2 record and finished third overall. A successful round robin for Team Canada!
Yesterday our lone game was against a very defensive Japan Selection team. We tried to get something going almost every end, but their strategy made it really tough. We were tied at one playing the sixth end when a bad miss on my last one gave them a steal of two. We couldn’t continue our take-two-steal-one pattern, and an otherwise well-played game turned into our second loss.
The boys, on the other hand, had a great game and finished their day with a 4-1 record.
With that being our only game of the day, we took the time to visit the Olympic museum. There was a big display of curling: some pictures of Sandra Schmirler‘s team, a case of pins from Canadian curling clubs, and of course the 1998 Olympic medals. It was a really neat little place to visit!
Later in the day we headed to a gigantic outlet strip mall and did some exploring. Usually this would be just our thing, but with the currency conversions and the numerous store clerks speaking so much Japanese and staring at your every move, we were a little overwhelmed. Aside from Chris, the men’s second, who bought a baby pink “party sweater” (as he calls it), we didn’t make any big purchases.
After that it was time for dinner, which was definitely my favourite part of the day. We tried out a Japanese barbecue place, and the meat we got there was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. It was the perfect way to help us get over a tough loss and feel better for the following day.
This morning we had an early start with an 8:00am game against China. A steal of two in the second end gave us momentum that we hung on to until the game ended in the sixth with a score of 6-2.
To pass the time in between games both teams went out for lunch, again to the restaurant we discovered the other day (with the incredible pizza). Lots of laughs and a delicious meal put us all in a good place for our last round-robin game.
Our final match against Denmark was big – a win meant first place and a loss would put us into tiebreakers. We came out strong right from the start, with a steal of two in the second end, followed by another two in the third. After a blank in four and a force in five, we scored a deuce in the sixth to put an end to the game. The boys won their final game against Germany, also needing only six ends, leaving us both with identical 5-2 records.
On the way home from the rink the mountains looked so beautiful that we asked our driver to stop, and it just so happened that he stopped beside three random Pikachus playing musical instruments. Of course, we had to get a picture with them too!
Now that both teams had accomplished the goal of making the playoffs, we had the evening off. We went out for a big team dinner followed by a trip to the arcade for the boys plus Sarah and I. This place was unreal – the four-person air hockey game had an electronic tabletop that would randomly shoot “dummy pucks” around, and put swimming whales on the table to confuse you. There was also a whole section of photo booths with a variety of sayings on them, such as “memorize your beauty and fashion at this luminous place”.
Of course, we had to check it out. They would give you examples of photos with Japanese girls in various poses, and we tried our best to replicate them. Once the computer added make-up to all our eyes (including Steve’s) we got to decorate them as we wished. We ended up with some pretty ridiculous pictures!
The finale of our arcade trip came when Colin, the skip of the men’s team, was trying over and over to win a Mickey Mouse pocket watch from a game where you had to move a pole around, and drop it into a target hole. After several close tries, we all thought he had given up. Of course then he went back to the change machine, got some coins, and got back at it.
Finally, he found the spot to get the pole to drop right in the middle of the target, and everyone went wild. A fist pump from Colin followed by some hugs with his teammates and we were finally leaving the arcade. On our way out, a Japanese man working there made sure he took the time to mock me saying “Oh my God!” after seeing the boys’ winnings, and was beyond grateful to receive the tiny Canada pin we gave him. On our way back to the bus, we realized that in the frenzy of the big win Colin had left 900 yen on the machine. But according to him, it was totally worth it.
We play our semifinal tomorrow morning at 9:00am, but our opponent is still being determined as China and Japan Selection are battling it out in a tiebreaker for the last playoff spot. We’re prepared and excited to hit the ice and can’t wait to get out there. Now it’s time to get some rest for a long day tomorrow… sayōnara!