Japanese rink comes to Kemptville for Royal LePage OVCA Women’s Fall Classic

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Japan

The Japanese team (left to right) of skip Ayumi Ogasawara, alternate Sayaka Yoshimura, second Kaho Onodera, lead Anna Ohmiya and third Yumie Funayama will compete in the Royal LePage OVCA Women’s Fall Classic. (Submitted photo)

It’s a long way from Tokyo to Kemptville .

This Thursday’s start of the Royal LePage OVCA Women’s Fall Classic sees Japan’s Team Ayumi Ogasawara start its fourth of five events for the current season. It is an experienced team now in its third year together.

The team earned the country’s women’s title in 2015 and placed third last season. They have to win their 2017 nationals in order to represent Japan at the South Korean games.

They are not strangers to the Olympics. The skip and third, Yumie Funayama, competed in the Salt Lake City, Turn and Sochi games. Lead Anna Ohmiya played in Vancouver while alternate Sayaka Yoshimura also saw action at Sochi. They just missed the playoffs in Sochi, finishing with a 4-5 record.

This season, the team has travelled the world, starting in a Japanese tournament Aug. 4 then over to Sweden, Switzerland and now North Grenville. They were quarter-finalists in Stockholm, where they just missed the semis in an extra end game.

But why play Kemptville? Their usual routine is to compete in either B.C. or Alberta. Through their translator the team said,

“We just wanted to try new things. We feel the west side teams and east side teams have different strategies. So it is our challenge to compete with not familiar teams and a new city. We are super excited to go to Kemptville.” Their last event will be Grand Slam Tour Challenge next week in Cranbrook, B.C.

The Sapporo based team has six sponsors that help with expenses, the main one being the Hokkaido Bank, where second Kaho Onodera, 24, Ohmiya, 27, and Yoshimura, 24, all work at the bank.

“We are lucky so lucky. Curling is not a major sport in japan,: they said.

The skip who is 37 and third Funayama, 38, are both mothers and housewives

“Anna’s father played curling at the Nagano Olympics and they all work hard to play well,” they said.

While they all respect curlers, the skip likes David Murdoch while the second likes Pat Simmons.

“She still remembers his last draw at the Brier,” said the translator.

Ogasawara begins Thursday after noon against the Rideau’s Charlene Sobering. The field at this year’s event includes Sherry Middaugh, Mary-Anne Arsenault, Marie-France Larouche, Winnipeg’s Barb Spencer, one of two Manitoba squads, and teams from Quebec, PEI and all over Ontario.

The action begins Thursday morning at 9:15 and continues all weekend until the championships on Sunday at 3:30.

The winner earns $5500. Weekend passes are $15 and a daily pass is $10.

ANOTHER SAVILL IN ALBERTA

Craig Savill is now a member of Charlie Thomas’ Calgary-based team. Assured a spot in Alberta’s men’s provincials, the new squad makes its debut next week in Cranbrook. Savill’s grandfather and father are Alberta natives. The regular lead is injured and out for the season.

JUNIOR RANKS

The women’s winner of the Broker Link OVCA Junior Superspiel was the Ottawa rink skipped by Emma Wallingford. She defeated Marie-Elaine Little’s squad also from Ottawa. Curling with Wallingford were Dayna Cullen, Hanna Wallingford and Jillian Page. On the men’s side Tanner Horgan from Northern Ontario got the best of Maryland’s Hunter Clawson.

WINNERS’ CIRCLE

Ottawa’s Graham Rathwell reunited with some Kingston teammates and won the Travelers provincial championship on Sunday. His team of Wesley Forget, David Staples and Sandy Staples advance to the nationals at Kelowna, B.C.

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