Women’s Curling at the Winter Olympics: Great Britain wins first gold in 20 years

Eve Muirhead, Vicky Wright, Jennifer Dodds, Hailey Duff and Mili Smith of Team Great Britain celebrate after defeating Team Japan in the Women's Gold Medal match.
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Great Britain captured its first gold medal in curling since 2002 and the second women’s curling gold medal overall behind a wire-to-wire performance by skip Eve Muirhead’s squad.

“It feels bizarre, to be honest,” said the 31-year-old Muirhead, who won bronze in 2014 and was making her fourth Olympics appearance. “To think it was 20 years ago when Rhona Martin made history [and] we’ve followed in her footsteps and done it 20 years later. It’s incredible, it really is.”

The Brits jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first end and built an 8-3 going into the ninth end, where they extended their lead to 10-3 before Japan conceded.

“We lost, that’s for sure,” said Japan lead Yoshida Yurika. “But to be here with all my teammates … Team Japan has become the top. I am just super grateful for everything.”

Great Britain earned it spot in the final after a semifinal rally against defending 2018 champion Sweden. The math went an extra end before GB won 12-11, reaching its first Olympic women’s team curling final in two decades.

“I’m stuck for words,” said Muirfeld after the semifinal win. “That’s the third time I’ve been in an Olympic semifinal and it has been my dream to get to that final game.”

Japan punched its ticket to the final after skip Fujisawa Satsuki led her team to an 8-6 win over reigning world champion Switzerland in the other semi.

On Saturday, Sweden captured bronze in its matchup vs. Switzerland, taking an early lead and never relinquishing it en route to a 9-7 win.

“A gold is a gold, but for this tournament the bronze feels like a gold with all the struggles we have been through and the way we composed as a team,” said Swedish skip Anna Hasselborg.

The Swiss, skipped by 42-year-old Silvana Tirinzoni, came into Beijing as the reigning two-time world champions and had won the round-robin phase of the Olympic tournament but walked away just off the podium.

How to watch the the Olympic gold medal game in women’s curling:

You can watch the gold medal curling game between Great Britain and Japan on Saturday night at 8:05pm ET in the United States (9:05am in Beijing). The game will be available to stream live on Peacock or NBCOlympics.com.


2022 Winter Olympics: Women’s Curling Preview

The women’s curling tournament at the 2022 Winter Olympics features 10 teams playing a round-robin format, with the top four teams advancing to the semifinals. The winners of each semifinal will meet in the gold medal match, while the losers will play for bronze.

With the tournament underway in Beijing, On Her Turf has compiled some helpful resources: from a full curling schedule to rosters for all 10 teams to results from the round robin If you need a refresher on the sport of curling – including answers to why curlers scream, the history of curling stones and basic rules – which you can find that here.

The U.S. women finished eighth in PyeongChang, but led by skip Tabitha Peterson ride some momentum into Beijing after capturing bronze at the 2021 worlds, marking the first worlds medal for U.S. women in 15 years. They’ll face stiff competition from familiar foes Canada and Sweden.

The Canadian women have traditionally been a powerhouse, winning gold in 1998 and 2014, silver in 2010, bronze in 2002 and 2006, and with Canada’s mixed doubles team winning gold in 2018. This year’s squad is led by 2014 Olympic champ Jennifer Jones, who’s also won two world titles and two Canadian Olympic Trials gold medals. Canada’s got something to prove after leaving the 2018 Games empty handed for the first time since the sport returned to the Olympic program.

MORE FROM ON HER TURF: Women of Team USA lead the way at 2022 Winter Olympics

“The desire has always been there for me, I’ve never lost that,” the 47-year-old Jones told media. “Our goal is to get better as the week goes on and try to find a way to make sure we are on the top of the podium.”

Sweden, No. 1 in the world rankings, rivals Canada with five Olympic medals of its own. But the Swedish women boast three gold (2006, ’10, ’18), one silver (2014) and one bronze (1998), as well as not-so-secret weapon Anna Hasselborg, who returns to lead the defending champions. The Swedes are out for redemption after finishing fourth at last year’s worlds and second the European Championships.

Great Britain’s Eve Muirhead will make her third Olympic appearance and will lead the reigning European champions, while South Korea’s “Garlic Girls” return to defend 2018 silver. The South Korean women – five players with the surname Kim, who graduated from the same high school class in a remote farming county – went on a fairytale run on home soil in 2018.

They arrive in Beijing with different coaches this time around, after daring to speak out about the verbal and psychological abuse inflicted by two coaches and the father of one of the coaches, who also was the vice president of the Korean Curling Federation. A recent New York Times report noted that a 2019 investigation found the women’s claims credible and the coaches and curling official were banned from the sport for life.

“Although we can’t know of and change all the corruption in the sporting world, at least in this sport we can reveal what has been going on in the hopes that it won’t happen again,” wrote Kim Kyeong-ae, 28, in an email to the NYT.

MORE WINTER OLYMPICS: Nonbinary figure skater Timothy LeDuc makes Winter Olympics history

2022 Winter Olympics: Women’s Curling Rosters

Canada (CAN)

Skip: Jennifer Jones
Third: Kaitlyn Lawes
Second: Jocelyn Peterman
Lead: Dawn McEwen
Alternate: Lisa Weagle

United States (USA)

Skip: Tabitha Peterson
Third: Nina Roth
Second: Becca Hamilton
Lead: Tara Peterson
Alternate: Aileen Geving

China (CHN)

Skip: Han Yu
Third: Wang Rui
Second: Dong Ziqi
Lead: Zhang Lijun
Alternate: Jiang Xindi

Switzerland (SUI)

Fourth: Alina Paetz
Skip: Silvana Tirinzoni
Second: Esther Neuenschwander
Lead: Melanie Barbezat
Alternate: Carole Howald

Denmark (DEN)

Skip: Madeleine Dupont
Third: Mathilde Halse
Second: Denise Dupont
Lead: My Larsen
Alternate: Jasmin Lander

Sweden (SWE)

Skip: Anna Hasselborg
Third: Sara McManus
Second: Agnes Knochenhauer
Lead: Sofia Mabergs
Alternate: Johanna Heldin

Great Britain (GBR) 

Skip: Eve Muirhead
Third: Vicky Wright
Second: Jennifer Dodds
Lead: Hailey Duff
Alternate: Mili Smith

South Korea (KOR)

Skip: Kim Eun-jung
Third: Kim Kyeong-ae
Second: Kim Cho-hi
Lead: Kim Seon-yeong
Alternate: Kim Yeong-mi

Japan (JPN)

Skip: Satsuki Fujisawa
Third: Chinami Yoshida
Second: Yumi Suzuki
Lead: Yurika Yoshida
Alternate: Kotomi Ishizaki

Russian Olympic Committee (ROC)

Skip: Alina Kovaleva
Third: Yulia Portunova
Second: Galina Arsenkina
Lead: Ekaterina Kuzmina
Alternate: Maria Komarova

How to Watch Curling at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games:

For viewers in the United States, you have some options:

  • Peacock will be the streaming home of the 2022 Winter Olympics. Live streaming coverage and full replays of every event will be available on Peacock’s premium tier. Click here to watch.
  • You can also stream events via NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app.
  • Games will also air on NBC, USA Network, and CNBC. Preliminary TV listings can be found here and the most up-to-date schedule with TV and streaming info can be found here.

You can also keep up-to-date on how to watch every women’s and mixed gender event using On Her Turf’s official guide to the Winter Games.

On Her Turf editor Alex Azzi and the NBC Olympics Research team contributed to this report.

Crystal Dunn returns to USWNT roster five months after giving birth

Nigeria v USWNT
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Crystal Dunn was named to the USWNT roster for two upcoming friendlies against England and Spain, marking her first official selection since giving birth to son Marcel in May.

Dunn made her NWSL return with the Portland Thorns earlier this month and also trained with the U.S. team as a non-rostered player ahead of friendlies vs. Nigeria.

In addition to Dunn, the 24-player roster features a veteran core of Alyssa Naeher, Becky Sauerbrunn, Rose Lavelle, Lindsey Horan, Mallory Pugh, and Megan Rapinoe.

Alex Morgan was not named to the USWNT roster due to a knee injury. While U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski did not provide details of the injury, he noted that “if this was a World Cup final, Alex was going to be on this trip and was going to play, no question.”

Other roster highlights include 17-year-old Alyssa Thompson, who becomes the first player born in 2004 to receive a USWNT call-up. Thomas, a high senior, plays club soccer for the U-17 Total Futbol Academy boys’ team.

“We are very excited for her, very excited about her potential and qualities and looking forward to seeing how she will turn out in our environment,” Andonovski said of Thompson. “This camp is not make it or break it. It’s a first experience for her, it’s just something that she shouldn’t even worry about.”

The USWNT also includes a handful of players who have made their USWNT breakthrough this season — thanks in part to both strong NWSL play and injuries to more veteran players. That list includes the likes of Naomi Girma (7 caps), Taylor Kornieck (5 caps), Hailie Mace (5 caps), Sam Coffey (1 cap), and Savannah DeMelo (0 caps).

Andonovski on Thursday called Coffey, a midfielder for the Portland Thorns, a candidate for NWSL MVP.


USWNT Roster for October 2022 Friendlies vs. England and Spain

Goalkeepers (3):

  • Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit)
  • Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage)
  • Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

Defenders(7):

  • Alana Cook (OL Reign)
  • Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC)
  • Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC)
  • Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC)
  • Sofia Huerta (OL Reign)
  • Hailie Mace (Kansas City Current)
  • Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC)

Midfielders (8):

  • Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC)
  • Savannah DeMelo (Racing Louisville FC)
  • Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon, FRA)
  • Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC)
  • Rose Lavelle (OL Reign)
  • Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC)
  • Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit)
  • Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)

Forwards (6):

  • Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit)
  • Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars)
  • Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign)
  • Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit)
  • Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC)
  • Alyssa Thompson (Total Futbol Academy)

Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC

Justine Wong-Orantes’ atypical path to becoming one of the best liberos in the world

Justine Wong-Orantes hits the ball in the women's semi-final volleyball match between USA and Serbia during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
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It’s been 20 years since the same nation held both the Olympic and world volleyball titles at the same time, but libero Justine Wong-Orantes is looking to help lead Team USA accomplish that very feat at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championships in the Netherlands and Poland. Competition began on Friday and the U.S. is currently 2-0 after group play wins against Kazakhstan and Canada.

“We’re trying to win, for sure,” Wong-Orantes told On Her Turf. “I think, especially with the new turn of the program and the new year of the quad, we just have a really nice blend of veterans and also newcomers on the team.”

The 14-woman roster for Team USA, which is ranked No. 1 in the world and won its first Olympic title last summer, features six players from that gold-medal-winning team. And while Wong-Orantes is among the 2021 U.S. Olympic team veterans, she’s still a relative newcomer to international play.

The Southern California native enjoyed a notable junior career – she was 12 when she became the youngest female to ever earn an AAA rating in beach volleyball – and was a standout collegian at Nebraska, where she was a member of the 2015 NCAA championship team. But Wong-Orantes followed a different path upon graduation, initially choosing not to go overseas to play professionally.

While she was first selected for the U.S. national team in 2016 and played a handful of international tournaments in the following years, it wasn’t until she started playing professionally in Germany in 2019 that she saw the potential to elevate her position on the roster. In particular, the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics gave her an additional year of overseas experience, which she calls “a blessing in disguise.”

“I just felt like I was still in that developmental stage,” she said. “And a whole year postponement allowed me to go overseas and really get all the touches, all the repetitions, and just kind of expose myself to international volleyball another year. So I was, in hindsight, pretty thankful for that COVID season because I got an extra year under my belt, and I think that just gave me a ton of confidence.”

Ahead of the Olympics, Wong-Orantes earned “best libero” honors at the 2021 FIVB Volleyball National League in Rimini, Italy, which helped secure her spot on the Olympic roster. In Tokyo, she followed up with another standout performance and was named best libero of the Olympic tournament.

As to how the Wong-Orantes transformed into one of the world’s top liberos, she points to her background as a beach volleyball player. She began competing at age 8, and her first partner was Sara Hughes, a star on the AVP Pro Tour who also won two NCAA titles with USC.

“I think having that background and just the court awareness that beach volleyball forces you to have allowed me to really have a good read on the game,” said Wong-Orantes. “I think that’s what makes a great libero is just reading and always being reactive towards the ball.”

Wong-Orantes also credits the assistance of mental coach Sue Enquist, a former UCLA softball coach and U.S. national team coach, who now helps teams work on their culture and relationships. Enquist began working with the U.S. volleyball team during the pandemic and has continued in her role ever since.

“We just worked on a lot of stuff within ourselves, within our program, how to communicate with each other off the court, and I think that honestly propelled us into such a high, high level with how we worked with each other, and then that transferred onto the court,” explained Wong-Orantes, who noted the team has Enquist on speed dial while at the World Championship. “I really commend Sue. I just really give a lot of praise to her because I think our culture was never bad, but I think [she] just transformed into a different level.”

2022-09-26 - FIVB Volleyball Womens World Championship 2022 - Day 4
ARNHEM, NETHERLANDS – Justine Wong-Orantes (far right) poses for a photo with her U.S. teammates after defeating Canada at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship on September 26, 2022. (Photo by Rene Nijhuis/Orange Pictures/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Wong-Orantes said she and her U.S. teammates are on their toes for the world championships, which features twice as many teams (24) as the Olympics and a “more grueling” format.

“It’s going to be a long tournament, and I think we’re really going to need all 14 of us that are here. I’m pretty certain that, at any given moment, someone’s going to be called on and someone’s going to need to step up in big moments.”