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[BEIJING OLYMPICS] S. Korea beats Japan to keep hopes alive in women's curling

South Korean skip Kim Eun-jung (C) delivers a stone during a match against Japan in the women's curling round-robin session at the Beijing Winter Olympics at the National Aquatics Centre on Monday. (Yonhap)
South Korean skip Kim Eun-jung (C) delivers a stone during a match against Japan in the women's curling round-robin session at the Beijing Winter Olympics at the National Aquatics Centre on Monday. (Yonhap)

BEIJING -- South Korea defeated Japan 10-5 to keep its medal hopes alive in the women's curling tournament at Beijing 2022 on Monday, relying on a combination of superb shotmaking and the opposition's miscues.

South Korea, which had lost to the United States 8-6 earlier Monday, evened its record at 3-3 with three games left in the round robin.

South Korea is tied with Canada and Britain for fifth place. Switzerland is leading the way at 5-1, followed by Japan (4-2), Sweden (4-2) and the US (4-2).

The 10 teams in the competition will each play nine round-robin games. The top four teams will reach the semifinals.South Korea's next game is against Switzerland on Wednesday at 9:05 a.m. local time, or 10:05 a.m. in Seoul.

A loss to Japan would have all but ended South Korea's hopes of winning its second straight medal. Led by skip Kim Eun-jung, South Korea won a surprise silver at PyeongChang 2018.

Kim is back with the same set of teammates, but their performance has been on a roller coaster ride so far in Beijing. They lost to Canada in the first game, before beating Britain and the Russian Olympic Committee in succession. South Korea then lost to China and the U.S.

Kim and the rest saved their best for the rival match against Japan.

South Korea was gifted a point in the first end, when Japan held the hammer, or the last stone.

With one South Korean stone in the house, all Japanese skip Satsuki Fujisawa had to do was to clear it out of the scoring area and make sure her own stone would also stay out. That way, the teams would have remained scoreless, and Japan would have retained the hammer for the second end with a chance to score multiple points.

In an uncharacteristic misstep, Fujisawa missed the South Korean rock entirely with her clearing attempt, allowing South Korea to take a 1-0 lead.

Fujisawa bounced back in the second end, as she executed a successful takeout with her hammer to put Japan ahead 2-1.

South Korean skip Kim Eun-jung had her response in the third end, delivering three points with a double takeout that gave her side a 4-2 lead.

South Korea then stole a point in the fourth end to take a 5-2 lead, taking advantage of some Japanese mistakes along the way.

Japan battled back with two points in the fifth end and cut the deficit to 5-4 at halfway point.

But South Korea went up by three again after the sixth end. Fujisawa's attempt to take out a South Korean rock in the house with her final stone went awry, as it bumped into a Japanese stone on the way. Kim then placed her last rock safely inside the button to grab two more points.

South Korea stole a point again in the seventh end to go up 8-4 and put the game further out of reach. Kim pulled off another impressive shot with her penultimate rock in the seventh end to put four South Korean stones inside the house. South Korea still had three rocks in the scoring zone, and Fujisawa failed to complete a takeout shot, while South Korea ended up getting a much-needed insurance point.

Japan got a point back in the eighth end, but Fujisawa wasted a chance to grab another point by missing on her draw attempt with her last stone.

Kim then easily placed her last stone into the house, giving South Korea two more points for a 10-5 lead. With one end left, Japan conceded the match. (Yonhap)

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