Italy and Norway men lead the standings after three sessions at the OQE

Team Norway © WCF / Céline Stucki

Sunday evening’s third session of men’s round-robin play at the Olympic Qualification Event was disrupted and delayed by over an hour because of an ice plant failure. However, this interruption did not deter Italy and Norway, who both had wins, to sit together at the top of the rankings, each on three wins and no losses.

Italy faced Denmark and, after blanking the first two ends, Italy’s skip Joel Retornaz scored two points with a draw in the third end to take the early lead.

Denmark then scored three in the fifth end to take a 3-2 lead into the break, but after that Retornaz had another draw in the sixth end to score one point and level the game at 3-3.

This game eventually went into an extra end and Retornaz completed the win for Italy with another draw for one point and a 6-5 end result.

Afterwards, Retornaz spoke about his winning shot, saying, “I had the full house to draw to”, then more generally he added, “We’re here to win as many games as we can, and we’ll check at the end what the result is, but for now we’re taking it game after game, and we’d like to win as many as we can.”

Denmark’s Mikkel Krause and Italy’s Joel Retornaz © WCF / Céline Stucki

The game between Norway and Japan started off as a low-scoring affair.

Japan were down 1-0 in the fifth end when their skip Matsumura Yuta played a take-out on a Norway stone to score two points and take a 2-1 lead.

In the ninth end, Japan were 4-2 ahead when Norway’s skip Steffen Walstad played a run-back with his first stone and then had a draw with his second stone to score four points for a 6-4 lead.

This was the final score in this game, a result that leaves Norway tied with Italy at the top of the table.

Speaking later, Norway’s Walstad spoke honestly, saying, “I didn’t have a good feeling heading into the ninth end, but that made a difference – it’s nice to be able to draw for four. I don’ think we were the better team for most of that game, they outplayed us, but it was just a matter of patience for us.”

Hosts Netherlands were in action against Germany, with both teams looking for their first win.

In the first end, Dutch skip Wouter Goesgens got the ball rolling with a draw into the house to score one point.

By the fifth end, Netherlands led by 2-0, and German skip Sixten Totzek played a gentle tap shot to score one point and reduce Netherlands’ lead to 2-1.

Goesgens had the chance to win the game in the tenth end, but came up short with his final draw to force an extra end with the score at 5-5.

In that extra end, Netherlands scored the one point they needed for their first victory of the event.

After the game, Goesgens said, “I made a mistake in the tenth with a short draw, but I think we controlled the game from the first end onwards. We definitely stayed focussed and we finished it in the end.”

Finland played Czech Republic in this session. In the second end, with Finland leading by 1-0, Czech skip Lukas Klima drew into the house to score two and take a 2-1 lead.

In the third end, Finnish skip Kalle Kiiskinen had a complete miss to give the Czechs a steal of two points and a 4-1 lead. The Czechs never looked back after that and went on to win by 8-3 in just eighth ends.

Later, Lukas Klima said, “It’s been a great day, a long day, but it’s really good to put two wins on the board. We were the better team in the first three ends before the break. After that we were able to keep it close. We had no big ends, but they [Finland] were able to put us under pressure in many ends. Fortunately, we had a solid eighth end.”

He added, “We are aiming for the play-offs at least, and we’re in a good position for that.”

Korea sat out this session.

Men Session Three results: Finland 3-8 Czech Republic; Italy 6-5 Denmark; Norway 6-4 Japan; Germany 5-6 Netherlands

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Leeuwarden, Netherlands

12 December 2021
Olympic Qualification Event 2021