‘Loco Solare’ win silver medal in Women’s Curling

Loco Solare members (from left) Yoshida Yurika, Ishizaki Kotomi, Suzuki Yumi, Fujisawa Satsuki and Yoshida Chinami hang silver medals around each other’s necks and hug. February 20, Beijing

On February 20, the final day of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games, Japan (Loco Solare) won silver medal in the Women’s Curling after losing 3-10 to Great Britain in the final. Despite failing to win its first gold medal, the team surpassed the bronze medal it won at the previous Olympics in PyeongChang, recording Japan’s best-ever result in the history of both men’s and women’s curling.
 
Even as tears rolled down their cheeks, their smiles shone brightly, as usual. Loco Solare won silver medal after being beaten by Great Britain in the Women’s Curling final at the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. It’s more than 11 years since the team was first established in the city of Kitami, but the members recorded the best-ever result in Japan’s curling history while laying bare their emotions – in the typical Loco way – right to the very end. Locals were lauding the curlers as “treasures of the region,” after battling through to the very last day.
 
On this day, skip Fujisawa Satsuki began the match with the words “MOVE TOGETHER,” “TRUST YOURSELF” and “HAVE FUN” written on her right hand. The four players never forgot to smile, and even when Great Britain took four points in the seventh end, they encouraged one another and continued to attempt offensive shots.

After the match, lead Yoshida Yurika spoke with a hint of regret. “There were only four of us on the ice, but we were there thanks to the support of everyone. The final was, without doubt, lots of fun.”

Motohashi Mari, representative director of the team’s management corporation and a former Olympian, founded Loco Solare in August 2010 after returning home from Aomori to Tokoro-cho in the city of Kitami. Kokubu Jun, chair of a medical corporation in Kitami, vividly remembers the day Motohashi asked for his cooperation in raising funds.

 Kokubu told Motohashi “I will support you if you’re rooted in the community, but not if you only aim for the Olympics,” to which Motohashi replied clearly, “I understand.”

 It was Motohashi’s dream to aim for the world from Kitami. However, there were times when, as a club team with no track record, she was refused funding. Despite finishing high-up in domestic competitions, the team would lose to stronger, more established teams in Hokkaido and beyond, and even a ticket to the Olympics was a distant dream. In 2018, Loco was incorporated. “I wanted to make it possible for young athletes to continue curling in their hometown, without giving up on their dreams,” said Motohashi.

 Just before the match on February 20, in an emotionally charged post on Twitter, Motohashi wrote, “A view I’ve never seen before.” Later, as the team stood on the podium, in a higher position than the bronze of four years previous, the four members – together with Ishizaki Kotomi, the fifth who had supported them – hung medals around each other’s necks. Despite the sense of regret at losing, Fujisawa was sanguine. “I’m really proud of this team,” she said.

 Residents of Tokoro-cho in Kitami watched the final with bated breath at gathering of around 50 people, who cheered every time Japan made a shot. After the match, Yoshida Fumie, the mother of third Chinami and lead Yurika, spoke with tears in her eyes. “The four years since Pyeongchang have not been smooth sailing, what with COVID and all the trouble it caused. When they get back, I want to tell them how great they were.”

The words written on the back of Fujisawa Satsuki’s hand as she grips the stone. February 20

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