With their place at the top of the rankings and therefore the Page one versus two play-off position already secured, Canada were forced all the way to the final stone of their game against China before emerging as 5-4 winners in their second-last round-robin game on Thursday morning in the Ford World Men’s Curling Championship in Regina, Canada.
On the next sheet, Scotland beat France by 6-1 in just seven ends, and this means that, with one game left on their programme, the Scots have secured second place to face Canada for the second time in the event.
After the win over China, and with top slot secure, Canada’s third Ron Mead was asked whether subconsciously his team had slightly switched off. He said, “they played very well. I don’t think you intentionally drop off at all. They just played to get into the tenth end – those guys still had something to play for, so we didn’t scale it down at all”.
For their part, it was clear that China enjoyed their match-up. Skip Yansong Ji said, “we enjoyed that, but we need more experience if we want to beat Canada. The best thing is that our team is working together and we are getting better and better”, and with a smile, he added, “we need some luck too. We were hoping Canada would throw their last out of the house”.
The Scottish win over France marked a recovery for the Scots, and skip Brewster said, “all tribute to the guys, they played really solid today. Last night we didn’t play well at all, and we came out firing this morning, so we’re really pleased. We missed a couple of sweeping calls last night, so we’re just tightening up on that”.
French skip Thomas Dufour added, “the Scottish made good shots and we weren’t good enough to beat them today. We have to focus now on the last game and try to have as much pleasure as we can on the ice, and maybe have another win tonight. But, we are somewhere that we didn’t expect at the beginning of the week”.
This loss means that France slips right back into the mix for the other two Page Play-off slots along with Sweden, who beat Korea by 8-4, and Germany, who had a 7-3 win over Denmark. These two teams and France now have six wins, and will battle it out with Switzerland and Norway - both on five wins, but with two games left – to decide which two of them will stay in the medal hunt.
After the games, it was clear that the qualification possibilities are coming into sharp focus for the skips involved.
Germany’s Andy Kapp said, “it’s most important that we are now on our own and we don’t need any win-loss to happen elsewhere, so we are looking forward to this game against the Czechs. It’ll be tough”.
And looking forward to his closing game against Switzerland, Swedish skip Niklas Edin said, “we lost to them at the Europeans. We know they’re a really good team, and they’re stronger now with their new line-up. But this is where we like to be - under pressure. We usually play well when we’re under pressure. We’ve got a good chance to win, but we need to play at our best”.
Standings after 15 sessions:
Czech Republic 3-6
Session 15: Scotland 6, France 1; Canada 5, China 4; Korea 4, Sweden 8; Germany 7, Denmark 3.
TV & Web: http://www.worldcurling.org/ford-world-mens-curling-championship-2011-tv-web-coverage
Live Scores: http://www.curling.ca/championships/curlcast-1
Scores mirrored on: http://results.worldcurling.org/Championship.aspx?id=396
Event websites for news & photos: http://www.curling.ca/championships/worlds/