Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Worlds Qualifying - Day 4 - Italy still perfect after beating China

Team Italy

[Photo: Finnish Curling Association/Katja Kiiskinen]

The top of the table teams continued to win in the morning draw at the Worlds Qualifying tournament in Lohja, Finland, but at the end of the day, only Italy (6-0) remained unbeaten. They have adjusted to the loss of their skip, Andreas Marchese, who had to return home before play began, and as the week has progressed, they have looked more and more comfortable.

Italy's Emanuale Spelorzi, braced by Gabriel Dallapiccola, watched by lead Angela Menardi
[Photo: Finnish Curling Association/Katja Kiiskinen]

Team Russia
[Photo: Finnish Curling Association/Katja Kiiskinen]
Russia arrived 10 days early and their pre-tournament training seems to have paid off. They saw off winless Latvia 8-3 in the morning. Denmark fought to the end of their 7-10 loss against Japan, but a steal of two in the 8th was not nearly enough to overcome Japan's steal of 5 in the 2nd.

 Japan's  Ayako Saito and Aki Ogawa. Japan is 1 of 4 teams with 2 females
[Photo: Finnish Curling Association/Katja Kiiskinen]

China posted a 4 and a 5 on their way to a 12-5 win against probably the most experienced skip on the ice, Switzerland's Manfred Bollinger.

Swiss skip Manfred Bollinger bracing his lead during warm-ups

[Photo: Linda Kirton]

Slovakia is appearing for just the second time at a world level event.  In 2008 they lost all their games, but this morning they posted their second win, 8-7 after stealing a point in the last end against hosts Finland.

The marquee match-up in the afternoon draw was Russia with one loss against previously unbeaten China. China had the hammer and took one in the first and added a stolen single in the second. Russia pulled level with 2 in the 3rd  fell behind by one in the 4th and pulled ahead with 2 in the fifth.

The 6th end saw a rare blank, but China could only claim a single point to level the scores after 7. Russia won the match, and second place in the standings, with a double takeout to win 5-4 to the cheers of a large group of Russian spectators.

Italy, who had a bye in the morning, buried Finland 11-1 in 7. Japan kept their playoff hopes alive by beating Slovakia 7-5, though the Slovaks gave them a scare by stealing the first two ends.

Denmark finally posted a win, 9-6, outlasting Latvia by stealing 3 in an extra end.

Italy and Russia are guaranteed a playoff spot and China could still take first place. Japan and Switzerland are also still in contention for the playoffs.

On current form, Japan and China both look to win at least one game tomorrow, which will force Switzerland to win both and beat Italy in the final draw to have a chance of playing on Friday.

Standings after Draw 7

Italy           6 - 0
Russia        6 - 1
China         5 - 1
Japan         4 - 2
Switzerland 3 - 3
Slovakia      2 - 5
Denmark     1 - 5
Finland       1 - 5
Latvia         0 - 6
Some random notes: teams are drawing to the button for hammer, and all but Denmark have missed the rings, thus reverting to a toss. Today Latvia came within 3.2 cm, and Finland threw within 2 cm of the pin.

It has been snowing and outside temperatures are around freezing. Apparently it's not a pleasant walk from the arena to the dining hall.

Finnish lead Sari Karjalainen dressed for the cold

[Photo: Finnish Curling Association/Katja Kiiskinen]

No one is complaining about the ice, which has maintained decent speed and curl.

Chief time-keeper Daryl Kirton (Canada) with a volunteer.
[photo Linda Kirton]
There haven't been any time clock penalties, though Russia has had time expire before their final rock has stopped, and Switzerland has run the clock down to less than 10 seconds. The clock operators and on-ice player assistants are from the facility's teaching program. They are training to be Sports Leaders, are young, enthusiastic, very cooperative and quick learners.

Thursday's games begin 9am local time. A live webcast from Sheet B can be seen HERE

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

No comments: