Japan, Sweden into women's World Junior final

With wins in the semifinal matches Saturday night, Japan's Team Sae Yamamoto (Photo: WCF), along with Sweden's Team Moa Dryburgh have both booked their spots in the final of the 2022 World Junior Curling Championships.

By: Cameron Sallaj

Semifinal Saturday at the 2022 World Junior Curling Championships concluded with the women's matches in the evening draw. Top seeded Norway took on four seeded Sweden, while the United States battled Japan in the 2 v 3 game.

In the all-European battle, Norway's Eirin Mesloe opened with the hammer against Sweden's Moa Dryburgh. It was a quick start for the Norwegian team who placed the best after the round robin, as they were able to count two points in the first end.

Following blanks in ends two and three, Dryburgh's Swedish side, consisting of third Thea Orefjord, second Moa Tjarnlund, lead Moa Nilsson and alternate Linda Stenlund got on the board with a score of three points in the fourth end. Norway then took one in the fifth after nosing a blank attempt, meaning the game was tied 3-3 at the halfway point.

In ends six and seven, Sweden again chose to blank back-to-back ends and take the hammer into the eighth. There, facing five Norwegian counters on her final stone, Moa Dryburgh played a delicate soft-weight hit to count one and keep her team in control of the match.

In the ninth, Norway's Mesloe attempted a double takeout to count two points and take back control of the match. She was only able to lift one Swedish rock from the rings, however, settling for a single point. Headed to ten, the match was tied with Sweden holding the all important last rock.

The Swedish side were able to capitalize on the hammer throw in the tenth end, scoring one to win the match 5-4. Eirin Mesloe slipped onto the button on her last rock of the end, meaning all Moa Dryburgh had to do was make a nose hit for the victory.

At just 16 years old, Dryburgh will be looking to secure Sweden's fifth women's world junior title. The countries last victory was in 2017 where Isabella Wrana took the victory over Scotland's Sophie Jackson in the final. For Norway, their drought continues of reaching the final at the World Juniors. The last time they were there was in 2004 when Linn Githmark won 9-6 over Canada's Jill Brothers in the final.

In the other women's semifinal, Japan's Sae Yamamoto rink trumped the United States' Delaney Strouse 7-3 in nine ends. The game wasn't always out of reach, however, as the Japanese rink took one in the eighth end to lead 4-3. In nine, a costly mistake by Strouse let Japan steal three points and go up four headed to the tenth. There, Japan's fourth rock thrower Miyu Ueno made a runback on her first rock to run the US team out of stones.

For Yamamoto and her team of Ueno, Eri Ogihara, Yui Ueno and Yuina Miura, they will be making Japan's third ever appearance in the world junior final and will be looking to win the gold medal for the first time. Akiko Katoh won back-to-back silvers in the 1998 and 1999 championships, while Team Yamamoto will be looking to avoid the same fate. The US has only ever won the title one time in 2002, and will continue to search for another women's world junior championship.

The 2022 World Junior Curling Championships conclude Sunday in Jonkoping, Sweden. In the morning, Scotland's James Craik will meet Germany's Benjamin Kapp in the men's gold medal game while Norway's Grunde Buraas and Canada's Owen Purcell play for bronze. The men's finals will be played at 3:00 AM Eastern Time.

Then, the women's finals will conclude the event at 8:00 AM Eastern Time. Sweden and Japan will meet in the gold medal game while Norway and the United States battle for the bronze medal.


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