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ECC 2011 Play-offs Day 6

Photo: WCF/Richard Gray

In the Page Play-off session of the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2011 in Moscow, the Swedish men recovered from two bad ends to win by 5-4 and move directly to Saturday’s gold medal final.

Both teams were cagey in the opening ends, but, with scores in both the fourth and fifth ends, Sweden built a 3-0 halfway lead, only for Norway to cut it back to 3-2. When they reached the eighth, Swedish skip Niklas Edin produced a nice draw to score one for a 4-2 lead, but Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud wasn’t for giving up and he drew for two points in the tenth to level the game at 4-4.

In the tenth end, Edin had another fine draw under pressure to score one and take the victory, at 5-4. Under curling’s play-off system, Norway now drop into the semi-final, where they will meet the Czech Republic, who won the Page 3-4 Play-off game by 9-8 over Denmark after an extra end.

After his win, Edin said, “We were cautious to begin with and kept it simple at the beginning. But we had a terrible seventh end. We had played really good up until then but we dropped our focus, we actually had eight bad shots in that end and my final one was expensive and they got the steal”. He added, “a couple of unfortunate mistakes in the tenth made us almost lose the game, but we managed to win it and we’re really happy about it”.

Facing Denmark for a place in the semi-final, the Czechs were playing their third game of the day, and gave themselves a real boost when skip Jiri Snitil had a hit for three points and a 5-2 lead. Denmark fought back from this, and skip Rasmus Stjerne threw a double take-out in the eighth to build a recovery that took the game into an extra end, with the teams tied at 8-8 after the regulation ten ends.

In the extra end, Stjerne could not get inside a Czech counter with his last stone, handing the Czech the victory that puts them into the semi-final for the first time ever without Snitil having to play his last stone. Denmark now have to wait out the semi-final game, to play the losers of that in a bronze medal game.

After his hat-trick of wins, Snitil said, “the three for us in the fifth end was bad luck for Rasmus. He hit the wrong side of the rock but he had a hit for four and just gave it away. We were so tired – that was our third game in a row – and after the fifth end we were kind of surviving. That definitely contributed to his recovery. We were really going down and we didn’t have much more to give”. Looking forward, he added, “before, we said the worst case would be losing two games tomorrow, so we will be giving everything”.

GROUP A MEN: Standings after Play-offs
Results: www.ecc.curlit.com
Sweden 7-3 (play final)
Norway 6-4 (play semi-final)
Czech Republic 8-4 (play semi-final)
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. Face Challenge for WMCC 2012 spot)
9. Latvia 2-7 (relegated to ECC 2012 B Group)
10. Italy 1-8 (relegated to ECC 2012 B Group)

In the women’s games, Margaretha Sigfridsson’s Sweden team made short work of Lene Nielsen’s Denmark in the Page 1-2 Play-off. The Swedes opened with a three in the first end when fourth player Maria Prytz had a nice draw-shot, and she repeated the action, this time for four points, in the fifth end. Denmark had no real answer and went down by 6-12 as Sweden – still unbeaten in this event – marched into the final, leaving the Danes to fight again in the semi-final.

Afterwards, Sigfridsson said, “so far, so good - that was easier than we expected. We had a good end in the first end and I think Lene felt a little bit under pressure. We felt a little of bit of both – nervous and confident. But we should keep up this level of play now. We really, really want this next game so we will just stay focussed and calm, and we will do our best”.

By way of contrast to Sweden’s one-sided win, the women’s Page 3-4 play-off went all the way to an extra end. Scotland and Russia were close throughout the match, and after going 1-4 behind, Russian skip Anna Sidorova brought herself right back into things with a good hit for three in the fifth to level the scores at 4-4.

Scotland looked to have victory in the bag in the tenth, until skip Eve Muirhead’s last shot jammed a Russian stone at the back, to give Russia a steal of one and push the game into extra time. In the extra end, Scotland were in control and eventually Muirhead had simple tap-out for her three and her 9-6 win.

As in the men’s section, Scotland now face Denmark in the semi-final, with the winner going on to play Sweden for gold in the final, and the loser playing Russia for bronze.

Muirhead, said, “We had a great extra end and I couldn’t have asked for much better as a last end, we didn’t miss a shot. I’d definitely want to come into the semi-final off a win, because you’re still going up. I wouldn’t want to be going on after a 12-6 loss, but Denmark are going to be up for our game and fight hard. I’m sure”.

GROUP A WOMEN: Standings after Play-offs
Results: www.ecc.curlit.com
Sweden 10-0 (play final)
Denmark 8-2 (play semi-final)
Scotland 8-2 (play semi-final)
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. Challenge 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

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