Four years ago, Japan and Great Britain’s women’s curling teams met up in the bronze medal game of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
In that game, Japan got the best of GBR in the 10th after skip Eve Muirhead made a mistake on the final throw to give Japan a steal of one and a 5-3 win that kept Great Britain team off the podium.
This week, Great Britain and Japan faced off for an even bigger medal, and Muirhead made sure not to leave it up to a final shot this time.
In Saturday’s women’s curling gold medal game, Great Britain was so dominant the game only lasted nine ends. Muirhead’s team scored two points in the first, four in the seventh, and two more in the ninth on the way to a 10-3 win over Japan.
The win is Great Britain’s first women’s curling Olympic championship since 2002.
Both GBR and Japan came in having been successful these Olympics with a similar play style – aggressive, calm, and confident, working to fill the 4-foot in each end.
Great Britain maintained that level of play in the final game, but Japan wasn’t as poised.
With a two point lead, Great Britain put the game away in the seventh with a 4-point end that put the team up 8-2. On Japan’s final throw, Satsuki Fujisawa overthrew the rock on a takeout attempt, and rolled her stone out of the house. All Muirhead had to do next was get rid of the one lying Japanese stone, which she did on a hit-and-roll that left her team lying four.
Muirhead helped her team take an early lead in the first with a takeout that tapped a Japanese stone lying up against one of her own. The angle caught the opposing rock just enough to knock it out of the way and keep Great Britain’s stone in place for two points.
Japan struggled with overthrows and overcurls the rest of the night, and never put together an end of more than one point.
Muirhead is one of seven curlers to compete in four or more Olympics, but her team at this Games hasn’t been together nearly that long. Muirhead and Vicky Wright are the only players who returned from the team in 2018, and Muirhead, Wright, and Jennifer Dodds are the only ones who were together for the most recent world championships in 2021.
The team of Muirhead, Wright, Dodds, and Hailey Duff helped Great Britain to just its third women’s curling Olympic medal of all time.
With the silver medal, Japan finishes with its best Olympic finish in the country’s history. It’s just the second Olympic medal ever won by a Japanese curling team.
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