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Team Fujisawa trio continue amazing run into Boost National semis

CONCEPTION BAY SOUTH, N.L. — The unbelievable run for Satsuki Fujisawa’s short-handed squad continues in the Boost National at CBS Arena.

The Japanese team is only a trio this week as lead Yurika Yoshida is ill and did not make the overseas trip. Second Yumi Suzuki and third Chinami Yoshida are each throwing an extra rock while Fujisawa has also pitched in on sweeping duties during her skip stones.

Despite the odds, Fujisawa advanced to the semifinals after taking down top-seed Team Elena Stern of Switzerland 9-3 during Saturday afternoon’s quarterfinals.

“At the start of the week knowing that we’d have three for the whole competition, it was definitely a little tough,” Team Fujisawa coach J.D. Lind said. “I felt bad for Yurika being sick. We knew that we still wanted to come here and perform well, so we just said we can’t look at it as a disadvantage, we can still play at a high level. We’ve just got to go out there and do it.”

Team Stern, who entered the match undefeated at 4-0 through pool play, was forced to settle for a single in the first and Fujisawa rolled from there. Three has proven to be the lucky number for Fujisawa as she scored three points in the third, stole three in the fourth when Team Stern fourth Briar Huerlimann came up light on a draw and swiped another three points in the fifth. Stern scored a deuce in the sixth and shook hands as the crowd erupted.

“The girls played great today,” Lind said. “They really put a lot of pressure on Stern. We had a few misses that you normally wouldn’t get from them and it worked out. Hopefully, we can keep that momentum.”

Team Fujisawa, who earned silver at the 2017 worlds and bronze at the 2018 Winter Olympics, have qualified for the playoffs in all three Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling events this season reaching the quarterfinals at the Masters and their first semifinals in the series last month at the KIOTI Tractor Tour Challenge. They went 2-2 through round-robin play here and stole a point in the eighth end to edge Team Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man., 3-2 in a tiebreaker Friday night to qualify for the playoffs.

Fujisawa now faces KIOTI Tractor Tour Challenge winners Team Anna Hasselborg in the evening semifinals. The reigning Olympic gold medallists from Sweden ran up the score as well with a 9-2 rout over Calgary’s Team Chelsea Carey.

The other women’s semifinal sees an all-Manitoba matchup between Winnipeg’s Team Jennifer Jones and Team Tracy Fleury of East St. Paul. Jones eliminated Scotland’s Team Eve Muirhead 7-4 and Fleury ousted Team Robyn Silvernagle of North Battleford, Sask., 6-3.

Earlier Saturday, Winnipeg’s Team Mike McEwen bounced defending men’s champions Team Ross Paterson of Scotland 7-4 in a tiebreaker.

Team McEwen will now take on No. 1 seed Team Niklas Edin of Sweden in the late afternoon quarterfinals at 5 p.m. NT. Also on tap are Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., vs. Team Peter de Cruz of Switzerland; Calgary’s Team Kevin Koe vs. Team Bruce Mouat of Scotland; and Team Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., vs. Edmonton’s Team Brendan Bottcher.

Edin, Gushue, De Cruz, Koe, Mouat, Jacobs and Bottcher all qualified with 3-1 round-robin records while McEwen and Paterson finished pool play at 2-2.

Broadcast coverage continues with the men’s quarterfinals on Sportsnet ONE (3:30 p.m. ET) followed by the men’s and women’s semifinals on Sportsnet ONE (7 p.m. ET). Online streaming for all playoff draws is available via Sportsnet NOW (Canada) or Yare (international).

Both finals are set for Sunday.

NOTES: The Boost National is the third event and second major of the 2019-20 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season featuring 15 of the top men’s teams and 15 of the top women’s teams from around the world. Qualification is based on the WCF World Team Ranking system. … A $300,000 combined purse is on the line, split equally between both divisions, with the winners receiving $35,000 each plus berths to the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup in Olds, Alta. … Teams also earn points towards the Pinty’s Cup awarded to the season champions following the conclusion of the Players’ Championship in April.