March 11, 2012
It took all the way to an extra end of a tense final, but Scotland eventually successfully defended the women’s World junior title on Sunday morning, beating the Czech Republic by 6-5 to take gold.
Beside them, Russia ran Sweden out of stones in the tenth end, to win their game by 7-4 and take bronze for the second year in succession.
Scotland had last stone advantage at the start of the gold final, but it was the Czechs who scored first, stealing a single point in the second end when Scottish skip Hannah Fleming wrecked on the way into the house with her last stone. However, the Scots made amends in the third, when, after splitting the house, Fleming produced a good hit and stick to score two.
In the fourth end, an umpire’s measure gave the Czech Republic one point to level the game at 2-2. Then, after blanking the fifth end, the Scots took the lead when Fleming hit again for one. The Czechs fourth player Iveta Janatova faced three Scottish counters when she played her last in the seventh but scored one to level the game again at 3-3 with a nose-hit.
The Scots blanked the eighth end and Fleming produced a delicate tap-out at the back of the house to score two in the ninth for a 5-3 lead. A missed peel by Fleming in the tenth end gave the Czechs the chance to score two and force the extra end, which they took when Janatova had a nose-hit.
The tense eleventh end eventually came down to Fleming hitting out one Czech counter and staying inside another, which she just managed, to score one point, win the game and take the 2012 World Junior Women’s title.
The Scotland team – skip Hannah Fleming, Lauren Gray, Alice Spence, lead Abigail Brown, all supported by fifth player Jennifer Martin and coach Debbie Knox – topped the rankings at the end of the round-robin. This saw them defeat the Czech team – skip Zuzana Hajkova, fourth player Iveta Janatova, Klara Svatonova lead Eva Malkova, supported by fifth player Petra Vinsova and coach Karel Kubeska – three times during the week to emerge as champions.
Afterwards, Fleming said, “World champion? It sounds very good. It’s what we’ve been working hard for all season and I’m really chuffed.”
She added “I only finally believed we were going to win when my stone stopped on the last shot. We felt fine in the tenth, my first over-curled but we knew that we always had the chance for an extra end if we got one out, so I did that with my second.”
Speaking about the extra end, she said, “I knew the extra end was going to come down to my last one because they played really well. I wasn’t enjoying my last shot very much, but I know that I had to do it and it worked out in the end.”
She also had a thought for her brave opponents, “The Czech girls played fantastic all week, beating some of the big teams. We were just fortunate enough to play better against them on all three occasions so I like to think we deserved our win today.”
For her part, silver medal skip Hajkova was gracious in defeat. “I’m very disappointed but I’m so happy for Hannah, she played some amazing stones and she was great. Her team was so friendly, and the atmosphere between them was ‘how to win’, so they deserved to win.”
About her come-back in the tenth to force the extra end she said, “We played everything we could in the tenth, and we didn’t make a mistake, so we scored and it was what we needed,” adding, “I don’t know what I was thinking in the extra end. My fourth player played an amazing shot at the last, and Hannah had to play a take-out with control. It was hard, but she made it.”
This silver medal represents a major break-through for Czech curling on the international stage, as Hajkova confirmed, “This medal means something big for curling in the Czech Republic. No-one else has ever done it in any world competitions, so I think they must be proud of us - I hope so.”
The bronze medal game started with Sweden blanking two ends before their Russian opponents forced then to take a single in the third. Russia took the lead with a score of two in the fourth end, but Sweden came right back with another two in the fifth for a 3-2 half-time lead.
However, Russia seized the initiative in the second half. They scored three in the sixth and stole one in the seventh. Sweden then blanked the eighth and could only take a single from the ninth. Russia then controlled the tenth end and eventually ran Sweden out of stones to claim bronze for the second year.
Afterwards, Russian skip Anna Sidorova said, “I’m happy – we are the first team from Russia to win the bronze medal twice. Even though the Russian girls won the gold in 2006, it’s really hard to win a medal two years in a row so we are really happy. It’s difficult to say how we beat Sweden today, we just played really well.”
Looking ahead, she said, “It’s my last juniors. This one has been much stronger than in previous years. For me the big surprise this year has been the Czech Republic, I’ve played four World Juniors, I’ve finished in fifth, fourth and double bronze. I’m too old to play now, but I have a lot of World Women’s Championships ahead of me.”
After finishing fourth for the second year running, Swedish skip Sara McManus said, “The Russian girls were better than us. We can accept this loss but not the loss in the semi final to Czech Republic. We should have won that game. Now we will try to come back to Sochi next year as four of us still are juniors.”
Gold medal final: Scotland 6, Czech Republic 5
Bronze medal game: Russia 7, Sweden 4
Junior Women’s Final Standings
1. Scotland 9-2 (Gold Medal)
2. Czech Republic 7-5 (Silver Medal)
3. Russia 8-4 (Bronze Medal)
4. Sweden 8-5
5. Japan 6-4
6. Canada 6-4
7. Norway 3-6
8. Switzerland 3-6
9. Italy 2-7 (relegated to 2013 EJCC)
10. USA 0-9
Highlights from the Gold Medal game available on www.wjcc2012.curlingevents.com
Read additional comments from the players here: http://wjcc2012.curlingevents.com/news
Event Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/wjcc2012sweden
Twitter hashtag for the event: #wjcc2012
The World Junior Curling Championships 2013 will take place in Sochi, Russia, from 28 February-10 March.