December 5, 2011
After four sessions of men’s round-robin play at the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2011 in Moscow, undefeated Germany lead the rankings.
They consolidated that position with a 7-4 win over France, scoring in four successive ends in the middle of the game. In the tenth end, their fourth player Felix Schulze was facing three French counters, but an accurate hit kept his stone in the house for the single that sealed Germany’s win. Afterwards, German skip John Jahr said, “I definitely didn’t think we would be in this position right now. We started very slow and then had a couple of steals, which was great for us”.
Behind Germany, three teams are tied in second place, each with just one loss – Denmark, Scotland and Sweden.
Denmark produced a strong second half performance to beat the Czech Republic by 6-5, scoring three in the seventh end and stealing a single in the eighth before hanging on and restricting the Czechs in the last two ends. Afterwards, skip Rasmus Stjerne said, “we came out a little slow and they played really well in the first five ends. We struggled to get points. We had a tough game last night [against Sweden] where we just didn’t click, and here we were just trying to get back into our game. This was a good win for us.”
Scotland faced defending champions Norway in their fourth game and Norway seemed to have built a strong enough lead when they took four points from the fourth end for a 6-3 lead. In the eighth, Norwegian skip Thomas Ulsrud wrecked on a front guard and pushed some stones around, which resulted in Scotland gaining a two-point steal. In the tenth, with a 7-6 lead, Ulsrud had a complete miss with his last stone – Scotland scored two and won by 8-7.
Scottish skip David Murdoch said, “that’s a big win for us, I’m really proud of the guys – losing a four against the European champions and coming back with pressure every single end right to the end”.
Sweden’s Niklas Edin kept his good run going with a 9-4 win over Italy. He set up this victory from the very first end, when he played a nice draw to score two, and then followed that up with another score of two in the fourth end when he hit out an Italian counter for a 5-1 lead. A three in the ninth completed the job.
In a tight match-up between Latvia and Switzerland, Swiss skip Sven Michel clawed back an early Latvian lead with a draw for one in the sixth end, and eventually hit with his last stone of the tenth end to score three from the end and take a 7-6 win. In his comments afterwards, Skip Michel voiced the kind of tensions that builds on players, saying, “we were very nervous because yesterday we lost both of our games. We knew we needed two wins today, so I was nervous at the beginning and I did not have a good game, but in the end we are happy”.
GROUP A MEN: Standings after 4 sessions:
Czech Republic 1-3
The Swedish women were yet to lose as they faced Switzerland in their fifth round-robin session. The Swiss with a change of line up with Skip Binia Feltscher playing lead stones pushed the Swedes closer than any of the other teams they’ve played so far.
This tense encounter came down to the last stone in the tenth, and while Switzerland’s brave attempt to move several stones around gave them one point, Manuela Siegrist playing fourth stones couldn’t force the two needed to put the game into an extra end and Sweden emerged unscathed with a 5-4 win.
Denmark and Russia are tied in second place behind Sweden with one loss each, and once again the Russian women played well and were given pass marks by the home crowd. They made short work of their fifth opponents Latvia with Russian skip Anna Sidorova hitting for three points in the third end to start a scoring run that took her team all the way to their 10-2 six-end victory.
After their fourth victory, lead Ekaterina Galkina admitted, “there is a lot of pressure but we are trying to forget about it and the people in the stands. We have tried the best we could – to keep the score if we were leading, and stay ahead. I hope we’ll manage to do that in our next games.”
Denmark survived early pressure from Italy, including a draw for four in the second end by Italian skip Diana Gaspari, to come through for a 13 -7 win that included Danish skip Lene Nielsen’s own score of four in the sixth end. Afterwards, Nielsen conceded that Italy had done better in the opening ends. She said, “eventually...that was the call for this game. We had a really bad start and gave up four, but we picked it up and it paid off. We’re still struggling a bit with our game but we’re getting better and better, so hopefully, we can be better from the first end in future games”.
Germany’s Andrea Schöpp and Eve Muirhead from Scotland have played each other many times, including in European and World Championships finals, and in their fifth round-robin encounter, it was the Scots who came out on top.
Muirhead came out strong from the start and took the early advantage when she hit for three points in the first end. Although Schöpp levelled the game twice – at 3-3 after the third end and again at 5-5 after seven, Muirhead produced a good hit and stay in the eighth end to score two for the 7-5 lead that gave her the game.
After the game, Muirhead said, “we came out of the blocks sharp in the first end. We had one slack end in the third, but apart from that it was solid. We kept it simple and we kept it open”.
Norway’s women have had illness in their build-up to these Championships so it is no surprise that they have been win-less so far. But they won their first game against the Czech Republic, with skip Linn Githmark hitting for a single point in the ninth on their way to a 7-5 win. As Githmark explained, “I haven’t played many tournaments recently as I’ve been sick and only started practising again three weeks ago. It’s been tough and our third [Henriette Løvar] was injured two weeks ago so we had to change our line up, but it feels much better to win than to lose”.
GROUP A WOMEN: Standings after 5 sessions:
Czech Republic 1-4
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
Information about the event can be viewed here www.ecc2011.curlingrussia.com