Loss to Japan pushes Team Kim into Olympic berth playoff
The Korean women's curling team — the eponymous Team Kim of PyeongChang Olympics fame — were defeated by Japan 8-4 at the women's World Curling Federation Olympic qualification match on Wednesday, losing their top spot on the standings. Korea will now have to win the playoffs to earn an Olympic berth.
Despite heading into the showdown against Japan as the leader and Japan as runner-up on Wednesday, Korea quickly conceded three points in the first end then another point in the second end and were unable to overcome that deficit until the end, as the match finished 8-4 in the ninth end.
Nine countries — Korea, Latvia, Japan, Estonia, Scotland, Turkey, Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic — are vying for three Olympic women's curling berths at the event. The top team in each group will automatically earn one Olympic berth without having to compete in the playoffs.
The second-to-fourth-placed teams will have to compete for the two remaining berths. The first berth will be given to the winner in a match between the second and third team and the team that loses the match will have to compete against the fourth-placed team to earn the final berth.
Japan now sit in first place with six wins and one loss while Korea and Scotland are tied with five wins and two losses. Even if Korea wins their last match against the Czech Republic on Thursday and Japan loses their last match, Korea will be unable to take back the top position because the head-to-head winner has the upper-hand in case of a tie. Korea will have to win their last match to stay as runner-up, then face the third-placed team.
However, if Japan lose their last match against Turkey and Scotland win theirs against Italy, Scotland will take first place as Scotland have the upper-hand having defeated Japan 8-4 on Monday. Korea will then drop to third.
The match against Japan was Korea's seventh. Korea beat Latvia 10-4 on Saturday morning, but dropped their evening match against Turkey 12-7. Korea beat Germany 10-8 on Sunday, beat Scotland 8-4 and Italy 7-1 on Monday. Korea then beat Estonia 10-5 on Tuesday.
Korea face the Czech Republic on Thursday at 2 p.m. in Needuwarden, the Netherlands, or at 10 p.m. in Korea.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [email@example.com]