Korea, Australia, USA early leaders in Olympic Doubles Qualifying

Team Korea, (Photo: Anil Mungal) Australia and the United States remain undefeated after day two in the mixed doubles discipline at the Olympic Qualification Event.

By: Cameron Sallaj

After seven sessions at the mixed doubles Olympic Qualification event in Leeuwarden, Netherlands, three teams remain undefeated, heading into the third day of competition.

In Group A, Tahli Gill and Dean Hewitt of Australia sit atop the standings with an undefeated 2-0 record, followed closely by Denmark, ROC and Hungary, all currently at 2-1. Germany, Turkey, and Spain round out Group A, with the Germans presently sitting at 1-2 and Turkey and Spain with 0-2 records. The Australians come into the event ranked fifteenth in the world and are one of the favourites to grab one of the two remaining spots at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China.

After having the bye in the first draw, Gill and Hewitt began their OQE campaign with a 7-3 win over Dilsat Yildiz and Ugurcan Karagoz of Turkey (0-2). They then convincingly defeated Pia-Lisa Schoell and Klaudius Harsch of Germany (1-2) in their second competition game. They will take on Jasmin Lander and Henrik Holtermann of Denmark in the morning on day three. They will take on Anna Sidorova and Alexey Timofeev at night, representing the Russian Olympic Committee.

In Group B, there is a tie at the top of the standings as both Korea and the United States are 3-0 after two full days of competition. Korea, being represented by Kim Min-Ji and Lee Ki-Jeong, defeated New Zealand (0-3), Finland (2-2) and Japan (1-3) in their three victories. Vicky Persinger and Chris Plys of the United States also beat New Zealand and Finland, with their third win against Estonia (1-2).

The seventh team in Group B is Latvia, tied with Finland with a 2-2 record.

Kim and Lee qualified as the Korean team for the Olympic Qualification Event as they won the 2021 Korean Mixed Doubles Curling Championship, held July 27 - August 9 in Jincheon. To claim the title, the pair went a perfect 14-0 through the qualifying, triple knockout and round-robin stage. They currently rank fifty-fourth on the World Curling Federation mixed doubles team rankings.

Similarly, Vicky Persinger and Chris Plys won the right to represent the USA at this event. They won the 2021 United States Mixed Doubles Curling Olympic Trials, held October 26-31 in Eveleth, Minnesota.

After qualifying for the playoffs as the number one seed, the pair won the 1 vs. 2-page playoff game and the championship final. If the USA end up qualifying for the Winter Olympic Games, Chris Plys will be doing double duty as he is also qualified to represent the United States in the men's competition with Team John Shuster.

Mixed doubles action from the Olympic Qualification Event started December 5 and will run until December 9, when two teams will qualify their nation for the 2022 Winter Olympics. After the mixed doubles event, the men's and women's qualifiers will run from December 11-18, determining the three remaining qualifiers for the Beijing Games.

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