Scotland, Switzerland and Slovakia complete line-up for World Wheelchair play-offs

  • Scotland’s second David Melrose hugged by skip Aileen Neilson © WCF / Tom Rowland

When the teams took to the ice for Friday evening’s last round-robin session of the World Wheelchair Curling Championship 2019 in Stirling, Scotland, there were 16 different scenarios of how the final table would shape up.

The only certainties being that China would finish top of the standings, Norway and Korea were guaranteed play-off berths and Germany were to be relegated to the World Wheelchair-B Curling Championship.

In the end, victories for Norway, Switzerland, Slovakia and Scotland meant that the further three play-off qualifiers were Scotland, Switzerland and Slovakia.

Meanwhile, Canada and United States joined Germany in being relegated to next season’s World Wheelchair-B event.

Scotland faced Canada and, in the seventh end, with the score at 4-3 in Scotland’s favour, Canada skip Mark Ideson decided to blank the end to keep last stone. In the eighth end, Scotland skip Aileen Neilson played two guards and, with an extra end beckoning, Ideson’s final stone just nudged a front guard to leave a previous Scottish stone counting for one point – a steal that gave Scotland a 5-3 win and third place on the rankings.

Although Canada finished on the same won five, lost six record as Russia, Estonia and Latvia, they had the poorest win/loss record among the four to rank tenth overall and be relegated.

After her team’s win, Scotland skip Neilson said, “I can’t talk highly enough about my team. They played fantastic. I felt we were always making shots, I felt confident and we just had to maintain that for eight ends. Now we need to build on that and come out fighting.”

In their game against Slovakia, United States were fighting to avoid relegation, and they started well, taking a 4-2 lead into the fourth-end break. However, Slovakia fought all the way and levelled the game at 7-7 in the seventh end when United States skip Steve Emt caught his last stone on a guard to give Slovakia a steal of three points.

In the eighth end, Emt was left with a promote shot, but his nudge-up was not strong or accurate enough to get inside another Slovakia stone. A single point steal gave Slovakia their 8-7 win and put them into the sixth and final play-off slot, while United States were relegated in second-bottom place.

After this win, Slovakia’s lead Monika Kunkelova said, “Of course I’m excited – relegation is out of the game now and we had a great come back. We always had hope that we would come back, and our skip likes curling under pressure, so this was not a new situation for us.”

Although Korea scored three points in the third end to take a 3-2 lead against Switzerland, the Swiss stuck to their task and scored two points in the sixth end and one point in the eighth end to give them a 5-4 win. This placed Switzerland in fourth overall, finishing ahead of fifth-placed Korea.

In the fourth game of the session, Norway had a single point steal in the fourth end when Germany hit out their own stone and a further steal of three points in the fifth end, on the way to a 7-4 win that confirmed them in second place and Germany 12th and bottom.

These results now put leaders China and second-placed Norway directly into Saturday (9 March) evening’s semi-finals. Before that, on Saturday afternoon, third-placed Scotland will face sixth-placed Slovakia and fourth-placed Switzerland will play fifth-placed Korea in qualification games. The winners will go onto the semi-finals. Gold and bronze games will be staged on Sunday (10 March).

Results

Session 17: Norway 7-4 Germany; Switzerland 5-4 Korea; Slovakia 8-7 United States; Canada 3-5 Scotland

Standings (W-L)

Q China 8-3
Q Norway 8-3
Q Scotland 7-4
Q Switzerland 6-5
Q Korea 6-5
Q Slovakia 6-5
Russia 5-6
Estonia 5-6
Latvia 5-6
>B Canada 5-6
>B United States 4-7
>B Germany 1-10

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