Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Worlds Qualifying - Day 3 - Italy and China unbeaten

China skip Haitao Wang
[Photo: Finnish Curling Association/Katja Kiiskinen]

Experience is beginning to tell at the midway point of Worlds Qualifying in Lohja, Finland. Italy (5-0) "seem invincible" according to one experienced observer, and stand in skip Edigio Marchese is doing an excellent job guiding the team. This morning's 6-4 win over Japan featured a steal of 2 in the final end of what had been a very tight contest.

Several teams have been running their time clocks dangerously close to zero. Japan had only 6 minutes left for their final end against Italy, and even though skip Katsuo had 3 minuets to deliver his final stones, he did not look comfortable. He had to make full 8 foot with his last rock to beat Italy, but his stone overcurled, or perhaps he was tight to the broom.

Italy faced an easier challenge against winless Latvia (0-4) in the afternoon, winning 9-3 after leading 7-0 at the break.

Japan (2-2) recovered from their morning loss to take an important win over Switzerland (3-2), a team that will challenge them for a playoff place. Again steals in ends 3 and 4 were the difference in a 6-3 win.

Switzerland, with hammer, had earlier spotted Slovakia (1-4) to a 3-0 start, but ended comfortable winners 9-3.

Unbeaten China (4-0) had a comfortable 9-2 win over hosts Finland in the morning draw, but were almost shocked by Slovakia in the afternoon, giving up a 5 in the 4th and falling behind 8-2. They then regrouped, taking 2 with hammer in the 6th, and stealing 3 in the 7th to pull within one. Another steal of 3 in the eighth gave them a 10-8 win.

Slovakian skip Radoslav Duriš had a chance with his first stone of the final end, to throw a guard which would have made it very difficult for China to remove it to score. Unluckily for Slovakia, the attempted guard was hogged. Slovakia still had a chance with their final stone - an open hit, or draw to China's shot stone would have kept their lead intact, but Radoslav was a little inside on his release, his stone over-curled, and China completed a dramatic come back.

Slovakia is one of three teams on 4 losses, which I'm sure Vic Rauter would agree in an eight game tournament will be too many to contend.

Finland (1-3) had beaten Russia three times in three attempts in pre-tournament friendly matches, so were especially disappointed to lose 10-7 to their neighbours. Finland took 4 in the 7th to go ahead 7-6, but then gave up 4 for the loss.

The morning's excellent quality webcast (with commentary) saw Russia play Denmark. The Danes ("we're red. we're white. we're dynamite") have an experienced coach (Per Christensen, who coached Norway at the Vancouver Paralympics) yet they are the only team using what must surely by now be the discredited near t-line delivery zone Great Britain/Scotland adopted.

The additional distance meant their lead found it hard to reach the rings, the front even with hammer became cluttered, and Denmark looked every bit an 0-4 team. In what became an all too typical situation, in the 2nd end Danish skip Kenneth Ørbaek had few good options, facing 4 with his last rock. He could have tried a runback of his own stone near the house and centre line, which had he hit it would have at least cut down on the damage. He chose a wide come-around that went through the house.

Webcast times don't work very well for those of us in the Pacific time zone, but anyone watching who cares to send in a report is very welcome.

It had snowed and froze before Day 2 and despite conscientious wheel cleaning efforts, the occasional rock would hit a piece of the gravel from the paths outside; just one of the worries for ice-makers Jorgen Larsen and local assistant Mika Ollikainen.

Standings after Draw 5

Italy           5 - 0
China         4 - 0
Russia        4 - 1
Switzerland 3 - 2
Japan         2 - 2
Finland       1 - 3
Slovakia      1 - 4
Denmark     0 - 4
Latvia         0 - 4

Line scores from the games are available HERE. Click on date.

A live webcast from Sheet B can be seen HERE

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Officials (Kirton) flown in from Canada?

Too much money for the WCF's budget.