There was still much to be decided as the teams hit the ice for the final round-robin draw of the mixed doubles competition as only two of the playoff spots had been secured and the playoff seeds had yet to be determined.
Team Canada lost their first game of the competition but have been dominant ever since and Draw 7 was no different as they defeated the host Koreans 7-3 in a game that was never in question for the Canadians. The Koreans had difficulty setting up their ends when they had hammer and had difficulty with one particular path which led them to miss several shots. Meanwhile, Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris continued their strong play and will enter the playoffs as the top seed.
The Swiss team were down 7-2 at the 4th end break against the OAR but showed why they are the world champions by outscoring their opponents 7-1 in the second half of the game including a three-ender in the 8th end that secured a 9-8 win and second place in the round-robin standings.
Finland and the United States were playing for pride in the last round-robin draw with the Finns looking for their first victory of the Olympics. The game was tied 3-3 after six ends when the Finns scored four points in the 7th end to take control of the game. The Americans scored two points in the 8th end but it was not enough as Finland won the game and finished the round-robin with a record of 1-6.
China needed a victory over Norway to force a tiebreaker and held a tenuous 4-3 lead after five ends when they exploded for 5 points in the 6th end for a 9-3 victory and a rematch against Norway in the tiebreaker.
There were several changes in momentum in the first half of the tiebreaker with Norway taking a 4-3 lead into the 4th end break. The turning point came in the 6th end when China missed a takeout on their final stone that allowed Norway a draw for four points to take an 8-5 lead. The Chinese closed the gap to one point by scoring two in the 7th end but a draw on their last shot of the 8th end came up short giving Norway a 9-7 victory without having to throw their last stone.
With the playoff picture now complete, four countries will be left to wonder what might have been. Most observers felt that the American team of Becca and Matt Hamilton had a legitimate shot at a podium finish but the sister/brother duo was never able to get things going and finished the round-robin at 2-5. The good news for the Hamiltons is that they will both get a second chance at these Olympics as they move on to play for the U.S. women’s and men’s teams respectively.
As for the host Koreans, they certainly left an impression during the round-robin, despite their 2-5 finish. The two young curlers played with emotion, got the crowd engaged with their play and were very competitive in most of their games. Hyeji Jang and Ki Jeong Lee did their country proud during the event and have bright futures in mixed doubles curling.
The victory by Norway in the tiebreaker set-up a rematch with Canada in the semi-final. The two countries met in the first game of the round-robin with the Norwegians handing the Canadians their only loss of the round-robin. The key matchup in the semi-final will be between Kaitlyn Lawes and Kristin Skaslien. Lawes, a 2014 Olympic gold medalist for Canada, played consistently throughout the round-robin while Skaslien had more ups and downs.
Whereas Canada and Norway have not played since the opening draw, the other semi-final will be a matchup of two teams that played each other in the final draw of the round-robin. Switzerland won their game over the OAR in Draw 7, overcoming a 7-2 deficit at the 4th end break by scoring three points in the 8th end for a 9-8 come from behind victory. The key matchup in this game will be between Jenny Perret of Switzerland and Aleksandr Krushelnitckii who throw last rock for their respective teams. Both Perret and Krushelnitckii have struggled at times this week and the player that raises his/her game the most in the semi-final may prove to be the difference.