Turkiye's Dilsat Yildiz (Photo: Team Yildiz) won 6-4 over Switzerland's Xenia Schwaller to capture the inaugural Cortina Curling Cup at the Stadio olimpico del ghiaccio, the curling venue for the upcoming Olympic Games.
By: Cameron Sallaj
The Turkish women's curling team of skip Dilsat Yildiz, third Oznur Polat, second Ifayet Safak Calikusu, lead Berfin Sengul and alternate Iclai Karaman won Turkiye's first women's World Curling Tour event this past weekend in Cortina d'Ampezzo, joining their male counterparts who won their first WCT title last year in Belgium. After a series of upset victories, the Turks entered the final where they faced the red-hot Xenia Schwaller rink of Zurich.
Team Yildiz opened the game with the hammer and came out firing, counting two in the first end thanks to a raise shot by skip Dilsat Yildiz. On a blank attempt in the second end, Xenia Schwaller stuck her shooter, making it a 2-1 game.
On their last shot of the third end, Team Schwaller, comprised of skip Xenia Schwaller, third Selina Gafner, second Fabienne Rieder, lead Selina Rychiger and alternate Marion Wuest executed a perfect tap-shot to the button. This forced a draw-to-the-button for Yildiz that came up short, tying the game at two all.
A missed line call on Schwaller's last rock of end four allowed the Turks an open hit for two, putting them back in front 4-2 at the halfway point of the match.
After an open fifth end that resulted in a blank, the Swiss team again tied the score with two of their own in the sixth end. Yildiz attempted to bury around the middle on her final stone, but Schwaller was able to remove it with a soft backline takeout to secure the deuce.
Team Schwaller controlled the seventh end, forcing Yildiz to execute a double for just one point. In eight, the Swiss needed a draw to the four-foot facing five Turkish counters to force the extra, but their final stone did not curl enough, resulting in a steal of one and the 6-4 victory for Yildiz.
With the victory, Team Yildiz earns the first place 5,000 euro prize with Schwaller taking home 3,000. Team Marianne Rorvik earned the third-place prize of 2,000 euros thanks to a 6-2 victory over South Korea's Gim Eun-ji in the third-place game.
Despite entering the event as the eighth ranked team with four teams ranked inside the top 20, the Turkish team rose above the field with three playoff victories on Sunday. They began by defeating Emira Abbes (Fussen, GER) 9-3 in the quarterfinals and then won 4-2 over Norway's Rorvik in the semifinals. They continued their momentum into the final where they stopped the previously undefeated Team Xenia Schwaller from securing a fifth tour title this season.
After a 2-7 finish at the European Championships in November, Team Yildiz narrowly avoided relegation to the B Division, instead finishing eighth and securing their spot at the 2024 World Women's Curling Championship in Sydney, Nova Scotia. With their strong performance to begin the 2024 portion of the season, the team will look to qualify Turkiye for the playoffs for the first time in women's World Championship history. The World Championship runs March 16 to 24 at Centre 200.
Team Yildiz (Erzurum, TUR) finished 3-1 through the round robin stage of the Cortina Curling Cup. They began with a 9-3 win over Robyn Munro (Stirling, SCO) and then won 7-4 against Rebecca Mariani (Trentino, ITA). After dropping their third game 5-3 to Team Schwaller, they defeated Stefania Constantini (Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA) 7-1 in their final qualifying game.
Watch the replay of the final of the Cortina Curling Cup between Dilsat Yildiz and Xenia Schwaller: