‘Curls Generation’

March 19, 2014

Can Korean women curlers build on Olympics 

By Jung Min-ho

Korean women curlers came out of the Sochi Olympics as unlikely winners. Sure, they finished eighth in a field of 10, but in managing to keep their wins and losses constantly dramatic, they won the hearts of television viewers and registered the sport in the public’s consciousness.

The team of Kim Ji-sun, Gim Un-chi, Shin Mi-sung, Lee Seul-bee and Um Min-ji, is now looking to build on its momentum at the Ford World Women’s Curling Championship underway in Saint John, Canada.

In the biggest upset of the event so far, Korea thrashed Switzerland 9-2 on Wednesday to avenge an 8-6 loss in Sochi and moved within striking distance of the semifinals with five wins and two losses.

Korea trails Canada, Sweden and Switzerland, the world No. 4 that had topped the table before the loss.

“Today the ice conditions were difficult, but we were able to figure it out to win,” skipper Kim was quoted as saying. “It was a little straight, and Switzerland throws more rotation, so we were helped by that.

“It was very important. If we had lost to Switzerland, maybe we wouldn’t make the playoffs. But with the win, we are hopeful for the playoffs.”

It was defensive strategies that determined the winner. Korea allowed the first point but scored two in the fourth end. Then, it gave up just one more point until the eighth end, while adding two.

Korea will face Canada and Germany on Thursday in a bid to reach the semifinals for the first time in two years since the 2012 world championships, where Korea beat Vancouver Olympic champion Sweden 9-8 and made it to the playoffs. Korea eventually settled for fourth-place.

This little known sport in Korea drew extensive attention during the Sochi Games, where the country competed in the event for the first time on the Olympic stage.

The names of the team members topped the list of “most searched words” on Korea’s largest search engine, Naver, during the event, along with questions about the sport’s rules. Sweeping aside predictions that it will be unable to win a single game, Korea surprised the world by edging out Japan, Russia and the United States.