With a 7-4 win over Finland in Wednesday afternoon’s seventh session of men’s round-robin play at the Olympic Qualification Event, Norway tied up first place in the competition, to give Steffen Walstad and his team the direct ticket to the Beijing Olympic Winter Games.
In the same session, Italy beat Czech Republic by 7-2 to qualify for the play-off games, while Japan’s 11-5 victory over Netherlands kept their campaign alive.
The Norwegians were ahead by 3-2 when, in the fifth end their skip Walstad played a draw to score two more points and move onto a 5-2 lead.
After blanking the sixth end, Finland skip Kalle Kiiskinen took out the sole Norway stone lying in the house in the seventh end, to score two points and reduce Norway’s lead to 5-4.
After this Norway went on to win by 7-4, a victory that guarantees them first position.
After the game, an elated Walstad said, “They made it difficult for us at the end there, but you just have to take a breath and anchor yourself and make your shots.”
Speaking about his Olympic qualification, he said, “I’m feeling good… I’m feeling really great. It’s an awesome feeling, winning with one game left. Qualifying – that’s what we’ve been working for all year. I’ve been to the Olympics as a coach, but now it’s going to be great to be there as a player.”
After blanking the first end of their game against Czech Republic, Italy scored two points in the second end when their skip Joel Retornaz hit out a Czech stone.
Later, in the sixth end, Retornaz repeated that shot, to score two for a 5-2 lead.
Single-point steals in the seventh and eighth ends for a 7-2 score-line completed Italy’s fifth win of the event, and that is enough to qualify them for the play-off stage.
Later, Italy’s Retornaz said, “Now that we have a ‘Q’ next to the name of our country we’re happy, that was our first goal for the competition.”
Looking ahead, he added, “We just need to play our game and perform as we can. We don’t need to do anything that’s different. We lost one game yesterday in the extra end against a good team. There is no magic in this, we just need to play at our level and that’s what we’re doing right now. I’m confident for the future.”
Japan played hosts Netherlands in this session, and they opened strongly in the first end when Matsumura Yuta drew his second stone to score three points and take the early lead.
When the teams reached the eighth end, Japan held a 7-5 lead, and Matsumura had another draw to score two points. He did just that, and his team took a 9-5 lead.
Japan went on to win by 11-5 to share fourth place on the table, on three wins and three losses, with Denmark, who sat out this session.
After the game, Matsumura said, “We all played well today, and I was finishing things off better than before. Now we need to try to keep the momentum up and focus on the key shots tomorrow.”
In the fourth game of the session, Korea faced Germany. By the fourth end Korea held a 4-1 lead when their skip Kim Chang-Min scored three more points with a draw to increase his team’s lead to 7-1.
Korea then went on to win by 10-1 I just six ends.
Men Session Seven results: Norway 5-4 Finland; Czech Republic 2-7 Italy; Japan 9-5 Netherlands; Korea 10-1 Germany
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