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Curling: Team Aomori wins national title after strong Olympic run+
[March 12, 2006]

Curling: Team Aomori wins national title after strong Olympic run+

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)AOMORI, Japan, March 12_(Kyodo) _ Team Aomori, which gained popularity across Japan with its efforts at the Turin Olympics, won the women's tournament at the national curling championships Sunday.

Team Aomori claimed its first national title in two years and second overall with a 9-3 win over Team Nagano, which conceded the match in the final end after giving up a decisive three points in the ninth end.

"I'm so glad to win the title with this group of curlers and finish the season this way," said skip Ayumi Onodera, who represented Japan with her Aomori teammates and fought valiantly against curling powerhouses at the Turin Olympics.

Amid the nationwide attention they have drawn from their Olympic campaign, the members of Team Aomori had an uphill task of facing upset-minded domestic rivals and lost twice in the nine-team round-robin first round, including a defeat by the Tokoro junior high school team from Hokkaido.

"There are always tears and laughs in curling," Team Aomori member Mari Motohashi said, summing up the tournament.

The Tokoro junior high team finished third after advancing to the knockout stage tied with Team Aomori with identical 6-2 records.

At the Olympics last month, Team Aomori beat Canada and Britain while coming on the brink of upsetting eventual gold medal winner Sweden before finishing seventh with a 4-5 record.

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