World Wheelchair Championship Qualification under way in Finland

The World Wheelchair Curling Qualification 2012 got underway on Saturday in Lohja, Finland. The competition is being held at the Kisakallio Sports Institute for the third year in a row. A total of 11 countries have come to compete for the final two places at the 2013 World Wheelchair Curling Championships.

Olli Rissanen, President of the Finnish Curling Association delivers the first stone photo: Katja Kiiskinen
Photo: Kisakallio Sports Institute

Hosts Finland started strongly in their first game of the Round Robin against Turkey, who are making their debut at this event. From the second end of the game Finland stole points for six consecutive ends. In the seventh end, Turkey was able to get on the scoreboard but the game finished there with a 11-1 win for Finland. Finnish skip Vesa Hellman says his team is feeling good and was confident prior to the event. Despite their successful season leading up to the event, they still wish to improve upon their accuracy and reading of the ice during the week to make sure they finish at the top four at the end of the week.

Norway also got off great start by beating Denmark 12-5. It is the third time in Kisakallio for this Danish team and the first appearance for the experienced Norwegian team, skipped by two-time World Champion Rune Lorentsen. During the season, Norway has won a wheelchair curling event both in Denmark in September and also in Scotland last month.

A new team line up from Italy is making their first appearance in Kisakallio and after a shaky start against an experienced German team the Italians scored five points in the sixth end to take a 8-7 lead. After a steal of 1 and another steal of 2 in the last two ends, Italy went on to win the game 11-7. Giulio Regli coach of the team was delighted with the win and believes that this internationally relatively inexperienced team has a good chance to do well in the qualification, because last weekend the team won a wheelchair curling event in Wetzikon, Switzerland.

Latvia’s game against Switzerland provided perhaps the biggest surprise of the first round. In the most even game of the first round, Latvia, who finished in the 9th place with a 2-6 record last year, was tied 4-4 with Switzerland after seven ends. In the 8th end, Latvia secured two points with the hammer and took their first win of the event.

Japan had a very good start in their game against the Czech Republic and, by the fourth end break was leading 6-0. However, Radek Musilek’s Czech team got back into the game after taking three points in the fifth end and going on to steal another three in the sixth to tie the game. The Czechs managed to steal a point also in the seventh and eight ends. Japan, who did not score any more points in the second half of the game, finally conceded with the score at 6-8.

Poland had a bye in this first round.

The first games on Sunday start at 9.30am local time.

The World Wheelchair Curling Championship 2013 will take place at the Ice Cube Curling Center, Sochi, Russia, from 16-23 February. www.wwhcc2013.curlingevents.com

Russia, Korea, China, Slovakia, USA, Scotland, Canada and Sweden have already qualified for this event based on the final ranking at the 2012 event. The 2013 World Championships will be the last opportunity for nations to gather qualification points for the Wheelchair Curling Competition at the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia in 2014. For the list of points visit www.worldcurling.org/curling-at-the-paralympics

The schedule of play and team line-ups for this event are available online at: www.worldcurling.org/world-wheelchair-curling-qualification-2012

Results and LIVE webcasting will be provided on the Finnish Curling Association website:
www.curling.fi/en/competitions/leagues/8690
www.curling.fi/en/competitions/curling-channel

World Curling Federation Wheelchair Curling Events Facebook:
Go hit ‘like’ to keep updated:
www.facebook.com/WorldWheelchairCurlingChampionships