December 6, 2011
With the medal stages approaching fast, the action is hotting up at the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2011 in Moscow.
In a tense sixth session of men’s round-robin play Denmark – last year’s silver medallists faced Scotland. This was tight all the way and the Danish break-through started in the seventh end when Danish skip Rasmus Stjerne promoted his own stone into the house, knocking out a Scottish stone for a break-through score of two points. The Scots tried to build something again in the eighth, but skip David Murdoch was too strong with his final tap-back, and rolled beyond two Danish stones around the button to give Denmark a game-winning steal of two. After failing to build a promising situation in the ninth, Murdoch drew to an empty house for a forlorn single, and eventually shook hands in the tenth, with Denmark winning 5-2.
Danish skip Rasmus Stjerne commented afterwards, saying “that was very important. First of all, it’s a big thing to beat Scotland and we know we needed this one to stay in contention for the first two spots. But even though the scoreboard was really tight, we played with lots of pressure, and I thought we were ahead all the way”. A frustrated Murdoch added, “that puts us right down in the mix now and we certainly need a win tonight. We just need to create a bit more with the hammer and take our chances, really”.
After a couple of stumbles earlier in the week, defending champions Norway are starting to build a good defence of their title. They opened their game against France with a two and, In the seventh end, skip Thomas Ulsrud played a good hit and stick to score two on his way to an eventual 5-2 win. Skip Ulsrud said, “Another win – that was a good one because it’s really tight out there, everybody’s beating everybody. Every game is important and we pretty much have to win every one now. It’s going to be tough”.
Switzerland looked in control of their game against Sweden when, in the third end, their skip Sven Michel scored a big four points with a good hit and stay shot. But, fighting back in the seventh, Sweden’s Niklas Edin scored two with a classy double take-out shot, and then, after Sweden levelled the game in the ninth with a three, Switzerland’s Michel was heavy with his final draw in the tenth, to hand the Swedes an 8-7 victory.
After setting the pace at the start of the week, Germany are gradually slipping down the table. They played the Czech Republic in this session, and the Czech skip Jiri Snitil set up his team’s victory in the seventh end when he had a successful hit to score three. However, Germany did not go down without a fight. In the eighth their fourth player Felix Schulze had a nice draw against three Czech counters to score one, but it was too little too late as the Czechs ran out 7-4 winners.
A pleased Snitil commented after the game, “that was definitely a big win. We seem to start slow in every championship and finish strong. Hopefully we can finish strong this year as well. Right now we are happy with our game.”
Italy came onto the ice to face Latvia still looking for their first win of the week. They started well and were as much as 4-2 up after seven ends. But the Latvians stayed tough and scored singles in each of the closing three ends to carve out what had earlier looked like an unlikely 5-4 win. Italy are anchored on six losses now and look most likely among the bottom teams to drop down to next year’s B group.
After the game, a clearly devastated Italian skip Joel Retornaz said, “we tried our best. We started the week under pressure and we were never able to turn things around. We have fought very hard in all our games until the end but it never seems to happen for us. This game was very disappointing. We were controlling it until near the end. It seems like we have a blackout always at the last two ends. We need to work harder and see what we can do in the last three games of the championship.”
GROUP A MEN: Standings after 6 sessions:
Czech Republic 3-3
Extensive televised coverage of the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2011 can be seen by viewers in Europe on Eurosport. Additional live and on demand coverage will be available via the internet on the Eurosport Player. www.worldcurling.org/ecc2011-tv-and-web-coverage
Highlights of televised games can be seen here: www.youtube.com/user/WorldCurlingTV
Information about the event can be viewed here www.ecc2011.curlingrussia.com