Ten teams hoped to compete in the Worlds Qualifying tournament in Lohja, Finland, for the final two places at the 2011 Worlds in Prague next February. However, a surprise ruling by the French Federation for Ice Sports (FFSG) meant that France has withdrawn, and their game against hosts Finland was declared void.
France were apparently caught in a legal dispute between the French Curling Association and the FFSG and were unable to produce the required "permission to compete" form prior to the tournament starting, and therefore had to withdraw.
Those allowed to play include three teams (Japan, Italy and Switzerland) who competed at Vancouver Paralympics, plus China who were at the last Worlds, Vancouver 2009.
Italy lost their experienced skip, Andrea Tabanelli, who had to return to Italy today. Edigio Marchese moved up to skip and alternate Emanuale Spelorzi played 2nd. Despite the rearrangement, Italy took 2 in the final end to overcome Russia in a slugfest that saw 3's scored in 6 of the 8 ends. Marat Romanov is skipping and throwing 3rd stones for Russia in a change from the website listing.
Japan had won a warm-up tournament at Wetzikon (SUI) but started cold against China who raced out to a 5-1 lead after 3, with steals of two in the 2nd and the 3rd ends. Japan came back wth three in the 4th, but never quite caught up; their two in the final end leaving them on the short end of a 7-6 result. Japan's skip at the Paralympics, Yoji Nakajima, had been registered as alternate, but played 3rd.
Denmark attempted to steal their way back into the match against Switzerland but failed to overcome the 5 points stolen by the Swiss, losing 9-6. The Danes were the only team throwing from the rings rather than the hogline, as Scotland throw under Coach Pendreigh. Denmark's coach is Per Christensen who was in charge of Team Norway last season.
Slovakia registered their first World level win, breaking Latvia's promising start by taking 5 in the fifth and then stealing their way home to an 11-3 victory.
Ice conditions for the only draw of the day were consistent and swingy, but heavy. Hog to hog draw times were 12.5 seconds, and the ice makers hope to quicken the ice for subsequent draws. Heavy ice meant that most of the front end play across the sheets was in front of the house.
The better teams at the Paralympics were calling for front stones into the rings, so we'll see whether quicker ice or changed tactics make a difference as the week continues.
Line scores from the games are available HERE.
A live webcast from Sheet B can be seen HERE