Switzerland defeats Japan to advance to curling world final
Canadian skip Chelsea Carey and Russian skip Anna Sidorova play Saturday
Switzerland's Binia Feltscher and her teammates would walk 500 miles to win a third straight women's curling world championship.
Feltscher beat Japan's Satsuki Fujisawa 8-4 on Friday night in the 1-2 Page playoff of the event. The win sends the Swiss directly to the tournament's final on Sunday and a win away from the world title.
Every game Swiss third Irene Schori has requested the 1990s one-hit wonder "500 Miles" by Scottish rock band the Proclaimers play at the Credit Union iPlex.
"Two years ago in Saint John they always played this song when we had practice, so we've always remembered this song," said Schori, referring to Switzerland's 2014 world championship run in Saint John, N.B. "We had it on our playlist at the European championships in Champery so they always played it there too.
"It's our lucky song. That's the secret."
Fujisawa moves on to the tournament's semifinal against the winner of the 3-4 Page playoff between Canadian skip Chelsea Carey and Russian skip Anna Sidorova that goes on Saturday afternoon. The winner of Saturday night's semifinal will meet Switzerland on Sunday.
"We're still in a good position tomorrow, we just have to rebound," said coach J.D. Lind, who led Japan to its first-ever 1-2 Page playoff at the event. "I think being the first game for them at this magnitude is obviously difficult but I think they can learn from this and be ready for (Saturday)."
Qualifying points for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, will be awarded to every team that participates at this year's world championships. The higher the finish, the more points awarded. A top four finish almost guarantees an Olympic berth.
Although Feltscher won the world title in 2014 and countryman Alina Patz won in 2015, the Swiss did not expect to do well at this year's tournament.
"We didn't have a very good season," said Schori. "We just want to take some Olympic points, that was the important thing. But now to be in this final, it's so crazy."
Switzerland scored a single in each of the first two ends with Japan getting on the board in the third.
Swiss second Franziska Kaufmann swept furiously to help Feltscher lay in for a single in the fourth for a 3-1 lead. The crowd loudly cheered Kaufmann's exceptional effort.
Japan replied with a single to make it 3-2 after five ends, with Fujisawa stealing one in the sixth to tie it.
After Fujisawa's takeout attempt came up way short, Feltscher threw an easy draw for three and a commanding 6-3 lead after seven. Fujisawa recovered with a single in the eighth end to chip away at Switzerland's lead.
Another missed shot by Japan set the Swiss up for a deuce, prompting Fujisawa to concede.