December 4, 2011
Denmark, Germany and Scotland share the lead, each unbeaten, after the first two rounds of men’s round-robin play in the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2011 in Moscow.
On Sunday morning, Denmark defeated newcomers Latvia by 7-3. The Danes are last year’s silver medal team and skip Rasmus Stjerne sent his team on the road to victory early, scoring two in the second end with a well-judged double take-out of two Latvian stones. After that, the teams swapped singles until Denmark killed the game with a score of three in the ninth.
Scotland recorded their second win with a 6-5 victory over Switzerland. The Scots were more in charge than the tight score suggests. Scottish skip David Murdoch – a three-times winner of this title - opened his team’s account with a good double take-out to score three in the very first end and then, having kept the house clear throughout the last end, eventually had an easy draw for one to seal his victory. Afterwards, he said, “I thought we had a really good performance, and we’ve really stepped up from yesterday. That was solid – those guys (Sven Michel’s Switzerland) have been winning tour events all season, so I’m really pleased with that”.
Germany sit alongside the Scots and the Danes as undefeated, thanks to their extra end 7-4 win over Italy. In a tense eighth end, German fourth player Felix Schulze was under real pressure when he came to play his final stone, with three Italians stones already in the house and counting. However he managed to draw inside them all to count three and take his team one step closer to their eventual win, which they sealed in an extra end with a steal of three when Italian skip Joel Retornaz was light with his final draw.
Sweden beat France by 8-2 in just seven ends, with skip Niklas Edin in top form. He had the best success rate of all the skips in this session, drawing for two points in the fourth end and hitting for three in the seventh to seal his team’s win.
On Saturday, defending champions Norway suffered a surprise loss at the hands of Latvia in the opening round, but got themselves back on track with a comfortable 6-3 win over the Czech Republic. The Norwegians were three up after two ends, stealing two in the second and finished the game with another score of two in the ninth.
Afterwards, Norwegian skip Thomas Ulsrud said, “A win! This is much better than yesterday when we had trouble reading the ice. We got off to a better start today, and I’m quite happy at the way the guys played today”.
He added, “to be honest, I wasn’t happy at losing to Latvia yesterday, who have just come up from the “B” group, but these things happen in curling, so I hope we’re up for a good roll now”.
After the women’s third round-robin session, Sweden stand alone at the top on three wins and no losses.
Their win on Sunday afternoon was handed to them when their opponents Scotland, skipped by Eve Muirhead, ran out of their allotted 73 minutes of playing-time in the middle of the tenth end. They were three up at that time, on 8-5, thanks largely to a score of three in the fifth end and twos in the third and seventh ends.
After the game, Sweden skip Margaretha Sigffridsson, who plays lead stones, said, “Eve’s one of the top teams, so it’s really good that we played well this game and got to win. We struggled a little bit in the first three ends, but the fourth and the fifth were really well played by us. We got to put the stones exactly where we wanted them”. Regarding the Scots’ timing issue that handed her the win, she said, “one player in our team just focuses on the clock and checks it after each end.”
The game between Linda Klimova of the Czech Republic and Switzerland’s Binia Feltscher went all the way to an extra end before Switzerland won by 9-7 to record their first win of the week. The lead changed hands three teams in this game until a score of two in the extra end sealed things for Switzerland.
Spurred on by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable home-crowd, Russia carved out their second win when Germany’s veteran skip Andrea Schöpp mis-judged her last shot in the ninth to give Russia a steal of one point and an impressive 8-3 win. Afterwards, Russian skip Anna Sidorova said, “I think we played very well today against a good German team. Andrea is very strong with a lot of experience, which can make all the difference - so we had to be on top form. We knew we were bound to make mistakes sooner or later but we had to be patient and stick to our game plan – not to give them a two stone advantage”.
She added, “the ice was a lot better today and the crowd also played their part - they all seemed to have a good knowledge of curling and cheered for us at the right moments, which helped spur us on”.
Although she is supported by a new team this year, Italy’s Diana Gaspari used all her experience to beat Latvia by 11-4, helped by a steal of four in the eighth end when Latvian skip Ineta Maca was heavy and went through the house with her draw shot. The Latvians conceded after this. After the game, Gaspari said, “that was well done and I’m very pleased. This is a new team, so we didn’t know what we’d do. That’s our second win, so already we’re satisfied. We really like the ice. It’s perfect weight and stable on both hands”.
Norway are now the only women’s team yet to score a win. They lost by 2-11 to Denmark with a single steal in the fourth end when Norwegian skip Linn Githmark went wrong with a raised take-out attempt. The Danes sealed their victory with a big score of six in the eighth end, when Norway conceded. Afterwards, Danish skip Lene Nielsen said, “that was a good game and we all had draw weight today, so it was just great. We’re playing better and better and the ice is much better. The first game [against Sweden] was a bit hairy, but it’s improving”.
MEN: Standings after 2 sessions:
Czech Republic 0-2
WOMEN: Standings after 3 sessions:
Czech Republic 1-2
Extensive televised coverage of the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships can be seen by viewers in Europe on Eurosport.
Additional live and on demand coverage will be available via the internet on the Eurosport Player. www.worldcurling.org/ecc2011-tv-and-web-coverage
Highlights of televised games can be seen here: www.youtube.com/user/WorldCurlingTV