Italy win again in record breaking world championship performance

  • Italian skip, Joel Retornaz © WCF / Jeffrey Au

Italy beat Switzerland by 6-5 after an extra end in Thursday morning’s 15th round-robin session of the Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Curling Championship 2019 in Lethbridge, Canada.

This was the first time that Italy had beaten Switzerland at this level since 1985 and was their sixth win so far, a best-ever World Championship performance for their nation.

In the other games of this session, Canada returned to winning ways with a 6-3 victory over United States, Russia beat Netherlands by 7-4, and China were 8-3 winners over Norway.

In their game against Switzerland, Italy moved into the lead in the third end when their skip Joel Retornaz hit out a Swiss stone to score two points for 2-1. Then, in the seventh end Retornaz hit out a Swiss stone to score two points and move his team’s lead to 4-3.

In the tenth end, Switzerland’s fourth player, Benoit Schwarz delivered a tap-back take-out to score two points, level the game at 5-5, and force an extra end.

In that extra end, Retornaz drew his last stone inside the three Swiss stones already sitting there, to score the one point needed that gave his team their historic 6-5 win.

Afterwards, Retornaz said, “There is nothing cooler for a skip than to have a full eight-foot to draw to – that’s the shots we’re looking for. Big shots like slash-doubles are good for the crowds but as a skip you always think about drawing the four-foot to win the game, and that‘s what we’re working for. I know that I can play a draw to the four-foot in practice, so why not make it at the Worlds?”

And while he reflected on the historic significance of his team’s win, he made clear where his focus lay, saying, “Six wins, that’s the best result for Italy in the world and it brings us closer to the play-offs with two more game to play, so we’re in a good spot now and we’re happy, but we’re already focussed on the next game.”

After two losses on Wednesday, hosts Canada returned to winning ways against the Olympic champions, United States.

The teams were level at 1-1 after two ends, then Canada blanked the next three ends before scoring two points in the sixth end for a 3-1 lead.

In the eighth end, United States’ skip John Shuster played an open hit to score two points and reduce Canada’s lead to 4-3.

In the ninth end, Canada’s skip Kevin Koe brought his second stone into the house off a stone already sitting on the wing. The stone then crossed the house to replace an American stone on the button and score two points for a 6-3 lead. United States then ran out of stones in the tenth end and Canada won by 6-3.
Speaking about his shot in the ninth end, Canada’s Koe said, “That was probably the game-winner there. Regardless of that, we made a lot of good shots and played well.” He also pointed out that this was the first time he had represented Canada in Canada, and speaking about the crowds he said, “It’s so cool. Just feeling the support, everyone pulling for us - we hope we can use it to our advantage.”

Russia played Netherlands in this session and, in the first end of the game, Russia’s skip Sergey Glukhov played a hit and roll take-out of a Dutch stone to open the scoring with three points and take control of the game.

In the sixth end, Netherlands’ fourth player Wouter Goesgens played a draw-shot to score one point and reduce Russia’s lead to 6-3. However, Russia went on to win by 7-4.

In the fourth game of this session China faced Norway and opened with a single point in the first end and a single point steal in the second end for a 2-0 lead. Scores of two points in the sixth and eighth ends were enough to give China an 8-3 win.

After this session, Japan and Sweden – who both sat out the session – remain in joint top spot while Canada move into joint third place with Switzerland. United States and Italy now share fifth place to fill out the all-important top six play-off qualification slots.

Results: United States 3-6 Canada; Russia 7-4 Netherlands; Norway 3-8 China; Italy 6-5 Switzerland.

Current Standings (W-L):

Japan 8-1
Sweden 8-1
Canada 7-2
Switzerland 7-2
Italy 6-3
United States 6-3
Scotland 4-4
Netherlands 3-6
Russia 3-6
China 2-7
Germany 2-7
Norway 2-7
Korea 0-9

Watch, follow, engage

Live coverage of these championships will be available via the World Curling Federation’s broadcast partners: Eurosport (Europe-wide), TSN and RDS (Canada), NBCSports (United States), NHK (Japan), CCTV5 (China), SBS (Korea), SRF/RTS/RSI (Switzerland), Viasat (Denmark, Norway, Finland), Polsat (Poland), SVT (Sweden), Match TV (Russia), La Chaine Equipe (France), BBC Online (United Kingdom). Coverage will also be available, subject to geo-blocking restrictions, on the event website and the World Curling Federation’s Twitter, Facebook and YouTube Channels: www.youtube.com/WorldCurlingTV

To engage with the World Curling Federation on social media during the Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Curling Championship 2019 follow it on Twitter, Instagram (@worldcurling) and Facebook (@WorldCurlingFederation) and use the hashtags when posting: #WMCC2019 #curling