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Karuizawa International

Posted: December 30, 2014

What a way to end a solid fall season and a very busy December!  The day after The Canadian Open in Yorkton Sasketchewan, we jumped on a brand new Air Canada Dreamliner headed for Japan! Our first international trip as a team, we had big plans to soak in as much culture as we could and have a blast while doing it!  Well, the short version is, Mission Accomplished!! We hit the sushi, the karaoke bar, local Japanese restaurants, a Korean BBQ, a local steak house, the local beer, and pretty much anything else we could find while we were in the beautiful resort town of Karuizawa.  Although there were many highlights of our week, one of the best was when we stopped into what we are pretty sure is the smallest bar in the world. It’s called “Kevin’s Bar” and is owned and operated by a game named Kevin who is originally from the USA and has been living in Japan for 29 years.  The night we stopped in also happened to be the bar owner’s birthday so the drinks were flowing and the party was rockin!  Thankfully for us, the bar closed at 11:00.  We decided that we had just enough time to hit our favoutire little karaoke bar for one quick drink before walking home.  We were literally the only 4 people in the bar so had some pretty good service from the bar tender!  We killed a few classic karaoke tunes and called it a night!

While in Karuizawa, we were hosted by Nakatsu and his team at the Hotel Otowa No Mori, which was an amazing hotel with an old time feel and amazingly friendly staff.  Nakatsu, who is the manager at the hotel is easily the nicest person in the world and did absolutely anything and everything we asked of him.  And when he was finished doing us a favour, he somehow always thanked us?? You gotta love this culture!  We can’t thank our hosts enough for making our stay absolutely unforgettable.  We are already talking about how we can make it back.
There was also some curling that took place and we played a solid event from start to finish.  We rolled through the round robin without really being challenged and thanks to our combined last stone draw total, we received one of two byes to the semi final!  In the semi, we ran into a very good Team De Cruz from Switzerland who decided to make pretty much every shot all game long.  Thankfully, Kevin made one of the most incredible shots ever to grab us a game tying deuce in the 8th end to force an extra.  I’m not sure there is anyone else in the world who can throw it hard enough and accurate enough to make the shot Kevin made on his last one in 8.  In the extra end, we made every shot pretty much perfect and forced Benoit, who throws last rocks for DeCruz to a very difficult draw to the side of the button, which he missed by a quarter inch.  Off to the finals for us!  We came out in the final and did what we needed to do and controlled the game from the outset against a young Korean team who were clearly just trying to keep it close for most of the game.  We were very surprised when they shook hands after 6 ends only being down 3 points, although we did have the hammer.  Karuizawa International Champs and Yen Millionaires!!!
All in all, Japan lived up to and exceeded all of our expectations on and off the ice and we truly hope we have the opportunity to return one day!
Until the new year……..


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