March 22, 2012
As the round-robin section of the Ford World Women’s Curling Championship approaches its conclusion, all the remaining games will be strongly contested, as not only playoffs spots are still up for grabs, but also Olympic qualifying points are at stake for all teams.
One example of this was the game between the Czech Republic and China, neither of whom are going to medal this year. In the game between them China took the initiative when skip Bingyu Wang scored her second three of the game with a hit in the third end for a 6-1 lead. Although they scored two points in the fourth and sixth ends, the Czech Republic could not really get to grips with China, who ran out as 11-6 winners.
Team USA are still fighting for a place in weekend play-off action and they faced Sweden who are guaranteed at least a tie-breaker place. In a close game, USA skip Allison Pottinger took a big step towards victory when she hit for two points in the seventh end, to take a 4-2 lead, but Sweden fought back, with fourth player Maria Prytz hitting for two in the tenth to tie the game at 5-5. USA had crucial last stone advantage in the extra end and used it to score one without having to deliver their last stone, win the game and keep their campaign alive.
Afterwards, skip Pottinger said, “It feels great. The girls are working so hard.” Her team’s next big test comes in their final round-robin game against fellow-battlers Denmark, and about that Pottinger added, “we’re not going to fall for the trick of thinking how Denmark’s going to play. We’re going to think about the way we play and what our game is.”
At any world event, a win against Canada is always a special target for the other countries, and Italy’s Diana Gaspari took her chance on Thursday. In early play, she brought her team right back into the game with a hit for two points in the third end that levelled the score at 2-2, and she finished off a tense tenth end with another hit for one, to claim a notable scalp with a 6-5 win.
Afterwards, she said in English, “it was hard to come back today on the ice because we lost both games in the last ends yesterday. But we met this morning and said ‘this is our last day and we need to show that Italy can play even if on the board we are only on two wins’. We were tired but in the end we did it.” She added, “each win counts towards Olympic points. We want the last win because we want to get the Olympic points, so the pressure is still definitely there”.
Switzerland skip Mirjam Ott marked her 200th appearance at World, European or Olympic level with a 6-5 win over Korea. In this game, Korean skip Ji-Sun Kim hit for two points in the fourth end to level the score at 3-3, but Ott eventually pulled out the win with a draw for one point in the tenth end and a 6-5 score.
This result put Switzerland into joint top spot and afterwards Ott said, “it was an important game for us. We play Russia in the last game, so another important game for us, it’s not yet finished.”
Based on cumulative points earned for their finishes at the 2012 and 2013 women’s world championships, the top seven countries will gain entry to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia (host Russia receives an automatic entry).
An additional two nations will have the chance to win their ticket to Sochi at a new World Curling Federation Olympic Qualifying Event to be held in December 2013. All nations having competed at the 2011, 2012 and 2013 World Championships would be eligible to compete in this event if they have not already secured their spot at the 2014 Games.
Session 15: Sweden 5, USA 6 (extra end); Czech Republic 6, China 11; Italy 6, Canada 5; Korea 5, Switzerland 6.
Standings after 15 Draws/Sessions:
Czech Republic 2-8