Finland and Switzerland join Norway in ECC 2015 semi-finals

  • Switzerland see-off Netherlands to reach ECC semi-finals Photo: WCF / Laura Godenzi

There was all to play for in Thursday (26 November) morning's final men's round-robin session at the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2015 in the Granly Hockey Arena in Esbjerg, Denmark, with all five games set to play their part in determining the semi-final line-up or relegation situation.

The Norwegians were already secure in the semi-finals when they came on the ice to play Russia, who still had semi-final hopes, and a delicate tap-up by their skip Thomas Ulsrud gave his team two points and a 7-3 lead.

Ulsrud completed the game with a double take-out in the tenth end to score three from the end, on the way to a 10-5 win that gave his team the record of completing the entire round-robin undefeated, ranking first overall.

At the same time, defending champions Sweden played Finland, with both teams still in contention for a place in the semi-finals. In the fifth end of this game, Sweden's skip Niklas Edin drew his last stone into the house to score two points and take a 5-2 lead into the half-time break.

This game eventually went to an extra end, where Finnish skip Aku Kauste played a double take-out, leaving two Finnish stones counting and this set up a 7-5 win that puts Finland into the semi-finals, while Sweden now face a tie-breaker, today at 14.00 CET, for the last semi-final slot, against Scotland.

Switzerland played the Netherlands and in the eighth end, Switzerland's fourth player Benoit Schwarz hit out a Dutch stone to score three and take a 10-5 lead. Switzerland went on to seal their semi-final place with a 10-6 win, and, ranked third. Switzerland will now play second-placed Finland in the semi-finals.

Germany faced Scotland, and both of these teams also had hopes of reaching the semi-finals. In the seventh end, Scotland's skip Kyle Smith drew his last stone inside three German counters to score one point and take a 9-3 lead. In the eighth, Germany's skip Alexander Baumann drew his last stone into the house to reduce Scotland's lead to 9-5 but the Scots eventually won by 12-5 and now face Sweden in a tie-breaker, at 14.00 CET, with the winner going onto a semi-final against table-topping Norway.

The fifth game of the session, between the Czech Republic and Italy, went to an extra end and was won 7-6 by the Czech Republic, a result that means that these two teams will face each other again in a tie-breaker, at 14.00 (CET), to determine which of them finishes eighth and stays in the A-Division for next year, while the loser is relegated to the B-Division.

The team that wins the tie-breaker will also face the eventual B-Division winner for the last available European slot in this season's World Men's Curling Championships 2016 in Basel, Switzerland, next (2-10) April.

They Said It:

Kyle Smith; skip, Scotland (after 12-5 win over Germany):

"We didn't expect that. We had a good first end and they made some mistakes and that got us off to a really good start. Our wins in the last few days have really brought the confidence up in the team and we've just been playing well. We knew we had to win today, we were really focussed on what we had to do, and I'm really pleased. Now, we just have to take each games as it comes."

Peter De Cruz; skip, Switzerland (after 10-6 win against Netherlands):

"We didn't even look at the rankings before the game because we said if we looked at it we'd have thought about the result, not focus on the performance. But, we're pretty happy, considering the start of the week. We're in a  good position right now and we're playing pretty good. If we can keep focusing on ourselves I think we have a good chance."

Thomas Ulsrud; skip, Norway (after 10-5 win over Russia):

"All the way through the round-robin undefeated - that's a good feeling. Now it's the plan to stay undefeated. The team is playing really well. I'm struggling a bit with the speed of the ice but apart from that, I'm really pleased with the way the boys are playing."

Aku Kauste; skip, Finland (after 7-5 win over Sweden):

“The game was a thriller – we must have been as nervous as our fans in the stands. We have played tight matches against Niklas Edin in the past. This time, we had a one point lead going to the last end without a hammer and decided that we must fight harder than ever. Sweden managed to get one from the last end and took the game to an extra end which was tight, too. We made such a good shot with our seventh stone that Niklas did not have any good shots available for his last stone, and luckily I did not have to throw my last stone.”

B-Division Highlights:

Austria and Latvia pulled out wins to finish the men's B-Division round-robin at the top of the Group B standings. Latvia held off Estonia with a 7-3 victory, while Austria defeated Slovakia by 12-2.

Austria advance to the semi-finals, while Latvia will head to the cross-section play-offs, to face the winner of a third-place Group A tie-break between Turkey and Slovenia.

Israel and England, who both tied for third place in Group B, will play each other to decide who takes on Lithuania in the other cross-section playoff.

WCTV Highlights: next live broadcast, on http://www.youtube.com/worldcurlingtv, today at 19.00 (CET), Russia v Denmark (Women's semi-final)

MEN'S RESULTS, Session 9:

Sweden 5-7 Finland; Czech Republic 7-6 Italy; Switzerland 10-6 Netherlands; Germany 5-12 Scotland; Russia 5-10 Norway.

MEN'S STANDINGS after Session 9 (W - L):

1 Norway 9-0 - semi-finalist
2 Finland 5-4 - semi-finalist
3 Switzerland 5-4 - semi-finalist
4 Sweden 5-4 - tie-breaker
4 Scotland 5-4 -tie-breaker
6 Germany 4-5
7 Russia 4-5
8 Italy 3-6 - tie-breaker
8 Czech Republic 3-6 - tie-breaker
10 Netherlands 2-7 - relegated to B-Division 2016