Russia make European play-offs for first time

  • Russia celebrate their play-off qualification win Photo: © WCF / Richard Gray

In Wednesday (23 November) evening’s final session of men’s round robin play the host country and Russia faced each other, with both looking to grab a place in Thursday’s (24 November) semi-finals.

In the sixth end, Scotland’s Tom Brewster nudged out two Russian stones to score two points and level the game at 5-5 while, in the eighth end Russia’s skip Alexey Timofeev scored one point to level the score again at 6-6. Russia went on to win by 8-6 to take up a semi-final place while the Scottish campaign came to an end. This is the first time that Russian men have made the knock-out stages of a European championship.

In the game between Switzerland and Denmark, the Swiss were also chasing a semi-final place while the Danes were battling against relegation. In the fifth end, Danish skip Rasmus Stjerne tapped a Swiss stone off the button for one point, to reduce Switzerland’s lead to 3-2. In the tenth, Switzerland’s fourth player Benoit Schwarz drew his last stone into the house to score one point and take a 4-3 win. This puts Switzerland into the semi-final, while Denmark are now bottom of the table and relegated.

Defending champions Sweden faced Norway, with both teams already qualified for the semi-finals, and in the eighth end of this game, Norway’s fourth player Thomas Ulsrud drew his last stone into the house to score one point and level the game at 3-3. In the ninth, Sweden’s skip Niklas Edin played a draw for three points and a 6-3 win.

Austria faced Germany and in the seventh end of the game, Austria’s skip Sebastian Wunderer hit for two points to reduce Germany’s lead to 7-3. But, in the eighth end Germany’s Alexander Baumann hit out an Austrian stone to score four points and take the 11-3 win.

Finland beat Italy by 5-4 and all these results mean that first-placed Sweden will play fourth-placed Russia, while second-placed Norway play third-placed Switzerland on Thursday at 19.00 (Greenwich Mean Time). Norway v Switzerland will be broadcast live on WCTV (geo-blocking may apply) and national broadcasters.

At the other end of the table Finland and Austria are tied in eighth place and will play a tie-break with the loser ranking ninth, to be relegated alongside bottom-placed Denmark, and the winner ranking eighth to face a best-of-three challenge from the eventual B-Division winner for the last available European slot in this season’s Ford World Men’s Curling Championship in Edmonton, Canada (1-9 April 2017).

B-Division highlights

In the B-Division being held in the Braehead Curling Club, on the women’s side, Hungary, Estonia and Turkey’s teams have qualified for the play-offs. Hungary beat Slovakia 9-6, while Estonia won against Latvia 10-6 and Turkey 8-2 against Netherlands in their final round robin games.

Hungary’s skip Dorottya Palancsa said: “We didn't plan the [last] game like this, we thought it would be slightly easier, but we were not playing punctually, and they made some important shots. In the play-off we will play much better."

On the men’s side Czech Republic, Israel, Netherlands and Latvia have all qualified for the play-offs with a series of tiebreakers to be played to decide the final teams. Czech Republic won their final round robin game 13-3 over France, while Israel’s loss to Wales 7-2, didn’t affect their qualifying. Netherlands beat Belgium 7-5 and Latvia won against Slovenia 7-0

They said it

Alexey Timofeev; skip, Russia (after 8-6 win over Scotland): “The game was nervous and tough, but we are happy to win. Our goal was to give everything to be in play-offs and we did it.”

Benoit Schwarz; fourth, Switzerland (after 4-3 win over Denmark): “It was our big goal [to be in the play-offs] and now anything can happen. We were very focused on our performance and that’s what he did until our very last rock.”

Janne Pitko; lead, Finland (after 5-4 win over Italy): “That was a very nice win. We played better through the tournament. We are happy to win this and have the tiebreaker. We played pretty well and Aku [Kauste, Finland skip] made two excellent shots in the last end to win the game.”

Results men's session nine: Scotland 6-8 Russia; Denmark 3-4 Switzerland; Finland 5-4 Italy; Norway 3-6 Sweden; Austria 3-11 Germany

Standings after men’s session nine (W-L):

QSweden 8-1
Q Norway 6-3
Q Switzerland 6-3
Q Russia 6-3
Germany 4-5
Scotland 4-5
Italy 3-6
Finland 3-6
Austria 3-6
Denmark 2-7

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