December 9, 2011
Norway’s men’s team kept their title defence alive when they beat the Czech Republic by 5-2 in the semi-final of the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2011 in Moscow.
Reaching the semi-final has been the best performance ever by a Czech team, but they found themselves in trouble early when their skip Jiri Snitil failed with an attempted angled take-out in the third end, handing Norway a steal of two for a 3-0 lead.
After this, Norwegian skip Thomas Ulsrud controlled the game, restricting the Czechs throughout. They took a single in the fourth and, in the eighth, Snitil had the consolation of scoring a single point with a good double take-out. However, eventually, Ulsrud had a straightforward draw-shot in the ninth to take the one point that sealed the Norwegian win.
Norway now face Sweden for gold, while the Czechs have a final chance to take their nation’s first-ever medal when they take on Denmark for bronze.
After the game, Ulsrud said, “It feels great to be back in the final. After a really troubled week, we’re there and have a shot at gold. After the first game we lost against Latvia, I didn’t think we were going to play the final this year, but the guys pulled through and I’m really happy. This whole season’s been troubled for us, so hopefully this will be it now.”
Looking specifically at the semi-final itself, he said, “our experience probably played a part – these are big games and we were lucky to get a steal of two in the third. From then on we were three up and we just controlled the game and didn’t give them a chance”.
Looking forward to the final, he said, “it feels good to get another shot at Sweden. We’ve had two close games here, and one went to an extra end - we will give them a real fight in the final. This will be big for us because this year we’ve been bad all season, so to come good in the Europeans would be great”.
The women’s semi-final between the Scots led by Eve Muirhead and the Danes, skipped by Lene Nielsen, was even more one-sided.
Scotland moved into a lead they were never to lose in the third end, when, after Nielsen’s last shot was heavy, Muirhead had a draw for three points. The Scots scored again in the fourth end when Nielsen had another draw that was too heavy. Eventually, after an umpire’s measure, the Scots put another three points onto the scoreboard for an unassailable 6-1 lead. In the eighth, Muirhead had a good double take-out to score two points for 10-2, after which Denmark conceded.
The Scots now face Sweden in the gold medal final – a repeat of last year’s final, while Denmark face Russia for bronze.
Scottish skip Muirhead said “the first three was key. We put the pressure on them and for the second three she was a bit indecisive. Really, they weren’t even close to us out there, and, once we get up, we’re a good hitting team, and we hit them off the park”.
Looking forward, she added “we’ve just been getting better as the week goes on and that’s what you’ve got to do at a Championship. If you peak too early you’ll slowly go down and down and we’re doing the opposite. Sweden are undefeated and deserve to be in the final, but we’re definitely going to give them a run for their money. I’m sure it’s going to be a good game. It’s a replay of last year’s final - Scotland/Sweden. Last year, I had a shot to win it and coming away with silver wasn’t nice - I don’t want to come away with a silver medal again”.
GROUP A MEN: Standings after Semi-Finals
Sweden 7-3 (play final)
Norway 7-4 (play final)
Czech Republic 8-5 (play bronze)
Denmark 6-4 (play bronze)
5. Scotland 6-5 (Qualified for WMCC 2012 and ECC 2012 A Group)
6. Switzerland 5-5 (Qualified for WMCC 2012 and ECC 2012 A Group)
7. Germany 5-5 (Qualified for WMCC 2012 and ECC 2012 A Group)
8. France 4-5 (Qualified for ECC 2012 A Group. Play Russia, B Group winner for WMCC 2012 spot)
9. Latvia 2-7 (relegated to ECC 2012 B Group)
10. Italy 1-8 (relegated to ECC 2012 B Group)
GROUP A WOMEN: Standings after Semi-Finals
Sweden 10-0 (play final)
Scotland 9-2 (play final)
Denmark 8-3 (play bronze)
Russia 6-5 (play bronze)
5. Germany 5-5 (Qualified for WWCC 2012 and ECC 2012 A Group)
6. Italy 4-6 (Qualified for WWCC 2012 and ECC 2012 A Group)
7. Switzerland 4-7 (Qualified for WWCC 2012 and ECC 2012 A Group)
8. Czech Republic 3-7 (Qualified for ECC 2012 A Group. Play Hungary, B Group winner for WWCC 2012 spot)
9. Latvia 1-8 (relegated to ECC 2012 B Group)
10. Norway 1-8 (relegated to ECC 2012 B Group)
Extensive televised coverage of the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2011 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