The second day of competition in mixed doubles saw certain teams take steps towards the playoffs as they reached the halfway point of the round-robin while other teams have already started seeing their playoff hopes diminish significantly.
In Draw 3, Team Canada faced a Chinese duo that has been on the podium at the last two World Championships. Lawes/Morris took advantage of a few misses by the Chinese skip early in the game to build a 7-2 lead. In an effort to change momentum, the Chinese used their “power play” in the 4th end but just when it looked like China was going to get back into the game, John Morris of Canada made a difficult triple takeout that cleared the house and eventually forced China to draw for a single point. The team of Wang/Ba was never able to mount a comeback in the second half of the game and Canada won 10-4 in 7 ends.
The United States was up 3-2 over Switzerland and had the hammer in the 6th end but gave up a steal of one and they were held to one point in the 7th end. Switzerland then used its “power play” in the 8th and was lying 5 when the Americans attempted a freeze that over-curled with their last stone allowing the reigning world champions to make a hit for 6 and a 9-4 victory.
The host Koreans fell behind 5-0 after three ends and were never able to recover as Norway ultimately won the game by a score of 8-3.
Meanwhile, Finland came into Draw 3 in last place in the standings but took an early 3-0 lead over the OAR. The 2016 World Champions from Russia recovered quickly from their slow start by scoring a four-ender in the 4th end then stealing two points in the 6th to earn a 7-5 victory.
The tension continued to build as teams entered play in Draw 4 which marked the halfway point of the round-robin. They often say that to win major curling competitions you often have to win some “ugly” games along the way. Well, the game between Canada and Finland certainly started “ugly” with none of the players playing particularly well early in the game. Canada took a 3-2 lead into the 6th end when a few key misses by the Finnish team allowed Lawes/Morris to score five points and secure an 8-2 victory.
The 2017 World Champions from Switzerland battled a Norwegian team that has played very well since the start of the round-robin. The game remained close throughout with Norway scoring a single point in the 8th end for a 6-5 win, handing the Swiss their first loss of the Olympic competition. The game ended with the Norwegians throwing a tap-back on their last rock even though they were lying one and would have won the game by simply throwing the rock away. The Norwegians made the shot but took a real risk by attempting to make a play on their shot-rock even though they had already secured the victory.
The highly-regarded team playing under the banner of the OAR has played unevenly so far in the round-robin but escaped with another victory in Draw 4 defeating China by a score of 6-5. The Chinese team was in a position to steal the victory from the OAR in the extra end but the Chinese skip failed to place a proper guard with her last rock allowing an easy hit for one. The OAR had taken a 5-3 lead in the game but China fought back to tie the score with a single point in the 7th and steal of one in the 8th to force the extra-end.
The Americans seemed to still be feeling the effects of their loss earlier in the day when they hit the ice for their game against Korea in Draw 4. The U.S. scored in only one end, was down 7-1 at the 4th end break and conceded after 6 ends in a 9-1 defeat at the hands of the young Korean team that earned its second victory in front of a very enthusiastic home crowd.
The third day of the mixed doubles competition should go along way towards identifying the teams that will play for medals in the playoffs. Canada faces two difficult opponents on Saturday in Korea with a game against Switzerland in Draw 5 and a matchup against the OAR in Draw 6.
As day two of the competition came to an end, four teams were tied atop the standings with CAN, SUI, OAR and NOR all tied at 3-1. KOR is at 2-2, CHN and the USA are at 1-3 with FIN in last place at 0-4.