Lillehammer’s youngest curling star Phillip Hoesli finishes on a high
The mixed doubles curling, which will make its full Olympic debut in PyeongChang in 2018, brought success to the duo of Yako Matsuzawa (JPN) and Philipp Hoesli (SUI). The youngest curler of the YOG, 14-year-old Hoesli went home with with two medals to his name.
On the final day of competition at the 2016 YOG, the Stampsletta curling venue played host to a brand new event, the mixed doubles, which is set to make its full Olympic debut in two years’ time in PyeongChang. In 2018, the teams will be made up of two players from the same NOC. The ‘dryrun’ in Lillehammer featured a novel twist, however: each mixed team was made up of players from different NOCs, with the pairings determined based on the final ranking of the players and their rinks during the mixed team competition.
The youngest member both of the Swiss delegation and in the curling competitions, 14-year-old Phillip Hoesli finished the Games with two medals, more than any other curler. He and 16-year-old Yako Matsuzawa defeated Yu Han (CHN) and Ross Whyte (GBR) 11-5 in the final. Hoesli had previously featured in the Swiss rink that had defeated Russia 11-3 to take bronze in the mixed team event.
Matsuzawa and Hoesli cruised through the initial rounds and into the semi-finals, where they overcame a tough hurdle in the form of eventual bronze medallists Riuyi Zhao (CHN)/Andras Haarstad (NOR) by a score of 7-6.
In the final against Yu and Ross they secured a key breakthrough in the fourth end, to open up a 6-3 lead by the halfway stage. In the sixth end, they added another five points and eventually emerged victorious by a score of 11-5.
Fastest, Highest, Youngest
“It’s incredible to win gold,” said a delighted Hoesli. “I’m so happy, I can’t believe it. It’s just fantastic. I don’t think the final score is a fair reflection of the match. It was much closer than that. The two rinks played some great shots; it was so tense! I knew that I was the youngest player in the curling tournament, but that’s nothing unusual for me. It’s always like that. And I knew I was the youngest member of the Swiss delegation here. Right now I’m really tired. I’d just like to go to sleep right now!”
Matsuzawa was equally ecstatic to have won a YOG gold. “This is what I had really hoped for. There were points when I struggled to concentrate, but I saw how members of other rinks managed to get their decision-making right, and I learned a lot from watching them. We decided to high five after every shot, whether successful or not.
”The mixed doubles competition took place on the same size ice sheet as the traditional team event, but there were a few differences. Apart from the fact that each rink comprised just two players instead of four, each one had six stones rather than eight, with one stone of each team positioned on the centre line at the beginning of each end.