Aiming for the Beijing Olympics…! “The highlight of the fierce competition of “Japan Women’s Curling | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Aiming for the Beijing Olympics…! “The highlight of the fierce competition of “Japan Women’s Curling

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Japan has yet to qualify for the Olympics!

The Tokyo Olympics have come to a close, and as soon as the year ends, the Beijing Olympics will be upon us. At the last Olympics in PyeongChang, women’s curling attracted much attention along with popular events such as figure skating, speed skating, and snowboarding, and “Sodane” became a popular word.

In the last Olympics, Japan’s LS Kitami (now Loko Solare) made a big splash by winning Japan’s first bronze medal in this sport. A medal is naturally expected at the Beijing Olympics, but curling is not an easy sport to win. The Beijing Olympics are scheduled to be held in February next year, but Japan has not yet qualified for the Olympics. Furthermore, unlike other team sports, curling is not a selective sport, and the teams that win the qualifying rounds become the national team.

2019 Japan Curling Championship Women’s Final “Mogumogu Time” / Photo: Afro
The venue for the 2022 Beijing Olympics, where a test event was held on April 2 of this year.

I’d like to review the schedule leading up to the Olympics, focusing on the current state of women’s curling, which is sure to attract a lot of attention again.

  • 2021 September September 10, 2021 September 10, 2021- Japan National Championship Game (Rocco Solare) vs. Hokkaido Bank Fortius)
  • ↓↓
  • 2021 December 2021 Dec. 2021 Final qualifying round for Beijing Olympics (Japan national team will participate)
  • ↓ ↓
  • February 2022 February February 4 February 4, 2022 Beijing Olympic Games start

First of all, regarding Japan’s national team, the deciding game for the Beijing Olympics will be held from September 10 to 12 between Rocco Solare, who won the previous bronze medal and the 2020 Japan championship, and Hokkaido Bank, who defeated Rocco Solare to win the 2021 Japan championship. This championship match will be played over a maximum of five games, with the first three winners earning the right to represent Japan. The first team to win three games will win the right to represent Japan, which will then compete in the final Olympic qualifying round in December against other countries for the last Olympic slot.

(From left) Kotomi Ishizaki, Yurika Yoshida, Yuko Suzuki, Chinami Yoshida, and May Fujisawa / Photo: Courtesy of Japan Curling Association

I would like to reintroduce the two teams that will be competing for the Japan national championship.

First, the bronze medalists from the previous round, Loco Solare. The regular members of the team are still the same: Yurika Yoshida (lead), Yumi Suzuki (second), Chinami Yoshida (third), and May Fujisawa (skip). However, Mari Motohashi, who was registered as a reserve last time and was the spiritual pillar of the team, returned to the team as a player in the lower part of the team, Loco Stella, to develop the team. Kotomi Ishizaki, who has participated in two Olympics and has been active as a commentator on curling broadcasts in recent years, will join the team in 2020 and support the team as a reserve.

The Hokkaido Bank team, on the other hand, has Yumie Funayama (maiden name: Hayashi) in the lead, Anna Omiya in the second, Kaho Onodera in the third, Sayaka Yoshimura in the skip, and Momoha Tabata in the reserve. The team currently has six members, including 20-year-old Ayami Ito). Three of the four regulars, Funayama, Omiya, and Onodera, have Olympic experience, and Funayama is a four-time veteran of the Beijing Olympics.

[Hokkaido Bank: (from left) Momoyo Tabata, Yumie Funayama, Anna Omiya, Kaho Onodera, Sayaka Yoshimura / Photo: Courtesy of Japan Curling Association

The fierce competition in Japan will start on September 10. start on September 10.

The two teams have a lot in common, and it will be interesting to watch the games with that in mind.

First of all, eight members of Loco Solare (Tomo Yoshida, Yu Yoshida, Suzuki, Fujisawa), and Hokkaido Bank (Funayama, Omiya, Onodera, Yoshimura) are from Kitami City, Hokkaido, with the exception of Fujisawa, who is from the town of Tsunero. Furthermore, the golden generation of women’s curling competitors, born in 1991, also includes Tomo Yoshida, Suzuki, Fujisawa, Onodera, and Yoshimura. Tomo Yoshida, Yu Yoshida, Suzuki and Onodera were teammates of the junior high school team, the Tokoro Junior High School Robins, when they competed in the All Japan Championships and became the talk of the town when they took third place against a team of working people. He was also a teammate of mine when I competed in the All Japan Championships with the Tokoro Junior High School Robins, which placed third against a team of working adults.

In addition, Yoshimura was a member of Hokkaido Bank during the Sochi Olympics, and also competed with Funayama and Onodera on the same team.

Yoshimura, too, has been known as a talented player since his junior years, and has never lost a match in Japan. He competed in the World Junior Championships three years in a row during his college years, winning a bronze medal in 2013 and finishing second in the Grand Slam. In 2013, she won a bronze medal and was the runner-up in the Grand Slam. However, she was so close to missing out on the Olympics that she must be very determined to make it.

Ryoji Onodera, the coach of Rocco Solare, is the father of Hokkaido Bank’s Onodera, and the father-son duel will also attract attention.

As you can see, many of the top players in the Japanese women’s curling scene have been competing with each other for many years, either on the same team or against each other since they were small children, and they know each other’s moves very well.

Currently, Japan’s women’s curling team is known as the “top four,” with four teams competing against each other: Rocco Solare, Hokkaido Bank, Chubu Electric Power, and Team Fujikyu. Team Fujikyu won the Japan Championships in 2018, when Rocco Solare was unable to participate due to the PyeongChang Olympics, and Chubu Electric Power won the championship in 2019, and placed 4th at the World Championships, where they represented Japan.

In 2020, Rocco Solare won the championship in a close match against Chubu Electric Power, and in 2021, Hokkaido Bank won the championship by defeating the overwhelmingly strong Rocco Solare in the finals, although they lost in the extra end in the preliminary round. If the team wins the 2020 and 2021 Japan championships in succession, it will unconditionally become the national team (Consadole won the men’s championship in succession and became the national team; the women’s championship was won by the same team). (In the men’s competition, Consadole won the championships in consecutive years and became the national team, and like the women’s team, they will compete in the final qualifying round in December.

In addition to the women’s team, the Consadole men’s team will compete in the final qualifying round of the world championships, and the mixed doubles team, which consists of one man and one woman pair, will compete in the Japan preliminary round from September 18 to 20. Yuka Yoshida’s other sister is married to Yuta Matsumura, so this team will be brother and sister-in-law. In addition, the team of Yasuma Tanida and Chiaki Matsumura, who will compete in the mixed double Japan preliminary round, Tanida is a member of Consadole and Chiaki Matsumura is Yuta Matsumura’s sister.

The national championship match in September will be a fierce battle for the Beijing Olympics. If you watch this game first, you will surely be able to enjoy the main Olympics even more.

The more you know about the players, the more you can enjoy watching the games!

Loco Solare

Yurika Yoshida (Lead): Born in 1993. Youngest sister of Chinami Yoshida. Although she is the youngest on the team, she plays a role in calming down her older sisters, who tend to get heated. She supports the team with her calm judgment and accurate shots. Watch out for her world-class “wicked shots “*. She is also aiming to participate in the Beijing Olympics in mixed doubles. This is a shot that requires a high level of skill and is performed by Reed. (*A highly technical shot played by the lead, which has become so common among top players, including Yu Yoshida, that there is a move to ban it by revising the rules. There is a possibility that this will be the last time we will see wicked shots in the Olympics, so I want to pay extra attention to it.

Yurika Yoshida (Lead) [Loco Solare] (from the Women’s Final of the 2019 Japan Curling Championship)

Yuko Suzuki (Second): Born in 1991. Although she is the smallest player on the team at 145cm tall, she has a powerful sweeping ability and is called “Crazy Sweeper” by overseas players. She is a natural character and a mood maker for the team, and you can’t take your eyes off her every move.

Yuko Suzuki (Second) [Loco Solare] (from the Women’s Final of the 2019 Japan Curling Championship)

Chinami Yoshida (Third): Born in 1991. She is aiming to compete in her third Olympics, following the Sochi and Pyeongchang Olympics. She is an important member of the team, serving as vice-skip and bridging skip Fujisawa’s two throws. He has few ups and downs in general, and controls the game with his steady shots. She has a lot of facial expressions, and her smile when she makes a good shot is especially noteworthy.

Chinami Yoshida (Third) [Loco Solare] (from Women’s Final, 2019 Japan Curling Championship)

May Fujisawa (skip ): Born in 1991. She has been a top player in her age group since her junior years. In Rocco Solare, she leads the team as an absolute skip. She is one of the top female players in Japan in terms of shot accuracy, variation, technique, ice reading, and experience. In particular, I would like to pay attention to her shots, which are strong and aggressive, but also delicate and precise.

May Fujisawa (skip) [Loco Solare] (from Women’s Final, 2019 Japan Curling Championship)

Kotomi Ishizaki (Reserve): Born in 1979, Ishizaki has participated in the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002 and the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, and has also competed in five World Championships. She is also a well-known commentator for curling broadcasts, and is known for her easy-to-understand explanations. As the oldest member of the team, she supports the team with her experience and logical thinking, as evidenced by her easy-to-understand commentary.

Kotomi Ishizaki (Reserve) [Rocco Solare] (from the Women’s Final of the 2019 Japan Curling Championship)

【Hokkaido Bank】.

Yumie Funayama (Lead): Born in 1978, Yumie Funayama is a veteran of three Olympics, the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, the 2006 Torino Olympics, and the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and has been playing since the team was formed in 2011. She is a mother of two.

Yumie Funayama (Lead) [Hokkaido Bank] (from Women’s Semifinals, 2019 Japan Curling Championship)

Anna Omiya (Second): Born in 1989, she competed in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. She is a game-maker, showing her ability in shots that connect to the third and in sweeps that require delicate judgment. She is also known as a vegetarian athlete and cooks on her dedicated Instagram account (@channa_gohan_). She is a member of the “Curling Muscle Club” formed by curling players who love muscle training.

Anna Omiya (Second) [Hokkaido Bank] (from the Women’s Semifinals of the 2019 Japan Curling Championship)

Kaho Onodera (Third): Born in 1991, she participated in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. She also competed in track and field, where she competed in the Inter-High School Athletic Meet. She is a mood maker for the team and a founding member of the “Curling Muscles Club,” which is made up of male and female curling players. Coach Ryoji Onodera of Rocco Solare is her biological father.

Kaho Onodera (third) [Hokkaido Bank] (from the women’s semifinals of the 2019 Japan Curling Championship)

Sayaka Yoshimura (skip ): Born in 1992. She has been a top player since her junior years, leading her generation. She has been leading her generation as a top player since her junior years. Her performance at the 2021 Japan Championships is still fresh in our minds, and we look forward to her super shot that can change the game with a single throw.

Sayaka Yoshimura (skip) [Hokkaido Bank] (from Women’s Semifinal, 2019 Japan Curling Championship)

Momoyo Tabata (Reserve): Born in 2002, joined the team in April 2021, competed in the mixed curling team at the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics and won a bronze medal. At the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, she played a major role in carrying the Japanese flag into the venue at the opening ceremony.

Momoyo Tabata (reserve) (second from left) [Hokkaido Bank] (From the award ceremony for the mixed team curling at the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics, where Japan was runner-up)
  • Reporting and writing by Daisuke Takahashi

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