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ECC 2011 Day 3 (Evening) Update

Photo: WCF/Richard Gray

After five sessions of men’s round-robin play in the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2011 in Moscow, three teams share the lead, each on four wins – Denmark, Germany and Sweden.

Denmark had a solid 8-3 win over Italy, which now means that the Italians are still looking for their first victory of the week. After Italy held a 3-2 halfway lead, the Danes piled on the pressure to score in the last three ends – two, a single steal and then a steal of three – for their win.

Germany lost their undefeated record in this session of play, going down by 3-10 in just six ends to defending champions Norway, who seemed really fired up for this game after suffering a sore loss to Scotland earlier. German fourth player Felix Schulze had the consolation of playing a nice draw for one point in the sixth end, but the damage had been done earlier in the game by Thomas Ulsrud and his Norwegian team, and Germany conceded.

Commenting on his campaign so far, Ulsrud said, “it’s a roller-coaster. This morning we had a really tough loss against Scotland - that was annoying. But I’m proud of the guys, they came back in this match and showed how they can play so hopefully we can keep it up. It’s been a long time since we’ve been cruising like last year, but hopefully this will be the kick-start. That first loss against Latvia is going to come back and bite us – we’d love to have that game back but ...that’s curling”.

Sweden is the third team sharing the lead, and they had a tough game against Latvia, who put up a good fight before going down 5-6. In the seventh end, Swedish skip Niklas Edin relieved a lot of the pressure on his team with a hit for a crucial single point that Latvia could not counter in the closing ends. Afterwards, he said, “it certainly was a tight game. They kept it close and it could have gone either way. But the key was when they drew in the house in the ninth end and we could blank that one. From there on we felt the game was pretty safe”.

Latvian skip Ritvars Gulba agreed with Edin’s view on the game’s turning point. “We gave them the last rock in the last end. It was a huge strategic mistake to allow them to blank in the ninth end. We didn’t leave ourselves any chance after that. It’s wrong to play like that, but we did!”.

Switzerland kept themselves in real contention for the medal games with an 8-3 win over France. To seal the win, skip Sven Michel produced a delicate draw for two, and another for three in the tenth, for what was his team’s third win of the week. Afterwards, he said, “we had a good start and we felt we were in charge. Our feeling was good and we played good and that made us comfortable. That was a very important win today. We have a tough game against Sweden tomorrow but we’re still in”.

The Czech Republic skip Jiri Snitil makes a habit of beating Scotland’s David Murdoch in big championships, and this one is no exception. After playing what Murdoch described as his “best game of the week” so far, Snitil finished off his triumph with a simple draw for three in the tenth end and an 8-4 win.

Afterwards, Snitil said, “that was very important we hope that keeps us in the competition. That was the best I’ve played this week, and the boys too. We had a good game against Denmark this morning but lost a big end and it was gone. We hope we can stay at this level”.

Murdoch was brutal in his self-appraisal – “there was one skip that was making everything and another skip – me - that just couldn’t finish it off. That was the tale of the game”.

GROUP A MEN: Standings after 5 sessions:
Denmark 4-1
Germany 4-1
Sweden 4-1
Norway 3-2
Scotland 3-2
Switzerland 3-2
Czech Republic 2-3
France 1-4
Latvia 1-4
Italy 0-5

In the women’s sixth round-robin session there were two basement battles among the four teams sharing bottom place on the rankings.

In these, the Czech Republic had a one-sided six-end 10-1 win over Latvia to lift themselves off the bottom place on the ranking and leave Latvia there, while Switzerland, with scores of two in the fifth, three in the sixth and another two in the seventh, beat Norway by 8-3 in eight ends, leaving the Norwegians anchored alongside Latvia, with three games left to play to claw their way back to World Championship qualification, or, at least avoid relegation or “B” Group challenge.

At the other end of the table, Sweden’s Margaretha Sigfridsson was pushed all the way by Germany’s veteran skip Andrea Schöpp who played a nice hit and roll in the opening end to open the scoring with a single point. However, eventually, the Swedes made an open hit for four in the tenth end to run out 9-6 winners and maintain their unbeaten record so far.

Afterwards, Sigfridsson said, “we played really well but there were a couple of bad calls in the middle. At the start we played better than them, and we played better in the last end too, and our fourth player Maria Prytz is marvellous”. Reflecting on their unbeaten top-of-the-table position, she said, “we need a few more wins. It’s fine to be a favourite, but there’s a lot of good teams here”.

The game between Italy and Scotland went all the way to the last stone of the last end, when Scottish skip Eve Muirhead made a hit and stay for the one point that gave her a 5-4 win. Afterwards, a delighted Muirhead said, “it’s good for us to go right down to the last stone of the last end, because it could happen in any of the games. I think we couldn’t have asked for more today. We came looking for two wins. We need more days like this”.

The fifth game of the session, between Denmark and Russia, went all the way to an extra end. Russia moved into a 5-3 lead in the sixth end when skip Anna Sidorova scored two points with a nice draw, but in the extra end, Danish skip Lene Nielsen kept her nerve and resolve to draw against three Russian counters already sitting in the rings for the one point needed for her 8-7 win. This result puts Denmark in a clear second place with just one loss. Danish skip Nielsen realised just how important his game had been to her medal hopes, saying, “that was very tense and I’m all shaky right now. Russia was the team I feared most. I think they’re playing really well and have the crowd, so that’s a big scalp”.

In the wake of only her second defeat of the week, Russian skip Anna Sidorova said, “Of course we are upset with our performance. The game was equal but we lost momentum a little and were unlucky with some of our shots. But we will pick ourselves up like we always do as we’ve got an important game against Scotland tomorrow. It will certainly be another hard game so we will need to be at our best. Scotland are a team who play classic curling and the only way to beat them is to perform better than they do from start to finish”.

GROUP A WOMEN: Standings after 5 sessions:
Sweden 6-0
Denmark 5-1
Russia 4-2
Scotland 4-2
Germany 3-3
Czech |republic 2-4
Italy 2-4
Latvia 1-5
Norway 1-5.

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

Results: www.ecc.curlit.com

All results will be mirrored on the World Curling Federation (WCF) results database: http://results.worldcurling.org/default.aspx

Information about the event can be viewed here www.ecc2011.curlingrussia.com