Norway win tense extra-end game to claim last Paralympic semi-final place

  • Norway qualify for the semi-finals Photo © WCF / Céline Stucki

Norway win tense extra-end game to claim last Paralympic semi-final place

Norway secured the last remaining place in the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 semi-finals with an extra end 7-6 win over Slovakia in Thursday (15 March) afternoon’s session at the Gangneung Curling Centre.

Norway started slowly with a score of one point in the first end, then Slovakia hit back with a score of two points in the second end to take a lead they would hold onto for most of the game.

Norway limited to a single point score in the third end, before Slovakia closed out the half with a score of three points in the fourth end for a 5-2 lead.

The teams then traded single points over the next three ends and going into the eighth end Slovakia held a 6-4 lead. In that eighth end, with Norway sitting three shot stones, Slovakia’s fourth player, Dusan Pitonak, was only able to remove one of the Norway counters, giving up a steal of two points and taking the game to an extra end.

In that extra end, with his final stone, Norway skip, Rune Lorentsen drew around high guards, slightly tapping back the Slovak shot stone and leaving both stones just outside the four-foot ring. Then, with the final stone of the game, Pitonak was wide and heavy with his draw, requiring an umpire’s measure to separate the sides and determine the scoring stone. The result of the measure gave Norway the steal of one point, the 7-6 win and a place in the Paralympic semi-finals.

Korea faced China in their last round-robin game and came out on top with a 7-6 win. Korea opened the scoring with two points in the first end. The teams traded single points over the next two ends, before China scored four points in the fourth end when China skip, Haitao Wang played a double-takeout with his first stone, to sit three shot stones, then with his second stone, drew to the back of the four-foot.

Korea controlled the second half, scoring a single point in the fifth end and stealing two points in the sixth end. China scored a single point in the seventh end to level the score at 6-6, but with their last stone advantage in the eighth end, Korea scored a single point for the 7-6 win.

Canada got off to a slow start in their 8-4 win over Finland. After Finland stole three points over the first two ends, Canada responded with a score of one point in the third end, then two single point steals in the fourth and fifth ends to level the score at 3-3.

After Finland scored one point in the sixth end, Canada replied with a score of three points in the seventh end when skip, Mark Ideson, was left with a draw to the four-foot with his final stone. In the eighth end, Canada stole a further two points for the 8-4 win.

In the session’s final game, Sweden beat the Neutral Paralympic Athletes (NPA) team 7-3. On the way to their win Sweden scored two points in the third end, then stole three points in the fourth end and two further points in the fifth end before running NPA out of stones in the eighth end for the win.

They said it

Rune Lorentsen, skip, Norway (after 7-6 win over Slovakia): "It was nerve-wracking. We knew that even if we lose, we will have a tie-breaker, but of course we wanted to win. We had to do that because we never know how it will go. After the sixth end, they have played so well with the draws, suddenly they stopped, they started to hit our stones. I think that was a chance to win the game.

I've been in the semi-final of the Paralympics before, but it was in the early ages in 2006 in Torino, we lost against Canada in a very tight game. In Sochi and in Vancouver we weren't even close.

We weren't so lucky in the beginning of the tournament, so we got our luck now. A medal is what we want, because I have all the other medals, but none from the Paralympics, so that's my ambition, to get a medal."

Viljo Pettersson Dahl, skip, Sweden (after 7-3 win over Neutral Paralympic Athletes): "I recognized in this game how we used to play when we play well. It was a team effort and I'm really satisfied. It felt really good. I think we made pressure on them the whole time and they had to do the hard shots. We were aggressive and made our shots. The fourth end when we stole the three, that was the key end.

“We had a really tough start at the Paralympics, but we're getting there. This is a new experience for many of us, so I think it's a good experience, but we're not satisfied with the losses. Five in a row in the beginning, that's not what we wanted. So, I'm more satisfied now for a couple of days."

Session 16 results: Norway 7-6 Slovakia; China 6-7 Korea; Canada 8-4 Finland; Neutral Paralympic Athletes 3-7 Sweden.

Standings after session 16 (win-loss):

Q Canada 9-2
Q Korea 9-2
Q China 8-2
Q Norway 7-4
Great Britain 5-5
Switzerland 5-5
Neutral Paralympic Athletes 5-6
Germany 4-6
Slovakia 3-7
Sweden 3-7
Finland 2-8
United States 2-8

Q = Qualified for the semi-finals

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