Radoslav Duriš, Branislav Jakubec, Dušan Pitoňák, Monika KunkelováThe top two teams after round robin play were also the two teams who qualified for the 2012 Worlds after the Page playoff, but it wasn't easy.
Italy (7-1) got off to a fast start against Slovakia (5-3) taking 2 with hammer and then adding a steal, only to fall behind 4-3 in the 3rd. A 3 of their own saw Italy's lead restored at the break, but Slovakia tied the game with 2 in the 5th.
Again Italy struck back, posting 3 in the 6th only to give two back in the 7th. With the hammer and the score 9-8 in their favour, the Italians looked to put away the nightmare of the 2010 playoff by keeping the house clean. That didn't happen.
With Slovakia sitting shot, Italian skip Andrea Tabanelli missed a peel with his first stone. Slovakia drew for second shot behind a guard and Tabanelli missed his take-out attempt, giving up a steal of 2 and allowing Slovakia, in just their third year of competition, to take the first of the two Qualification slots.
Slovakia 0 0 4 0 2 0 2 2 - 10
Italy * 2 1 0 3 0 3 0 0 - 9
A surprised Slovak Skip Radoslav Duriš, said: “It’s very impressive. There were highs and lows in this game for both teams but in each end we thought we could do it. The win for us is amazing.
“We lost four games in a row in the middle of this event and at that point we said ‘Houston we have a problem!’ but since then we have won every game. It was a dream for us to go to Korea – and now we are going.”
The 3 vs. 4 game Germany faced Finland without their skip. Jens Jäger injured his had the previous evening and Caren Totzauer moved up, but gave up a 6 ender and then a steal of 4 either side of the break before losing 13-2 in six ends.
Finland * 1 2 0 6 4 0 x x 13
Germany 0 0 1 0 0 1 x x 2
That set up a match between Finland and Italy. Skip Andrea Tabanelli later professed to feeling lucky to get a second chance.
He rode his luck all the way to the last rock of an extra end.
Italy began with a single with hammer but immediately gave up 3 and then a steal of 1 before taking a point to go in to the break down 4-2. A steal of 1 in the 5th and a 2 with hammer in the 7th levelled the scores at 5.
Early in the 8th Italy looked good to steal the game. But Markku Karjalainen made a great shot on his first stone to double out Italy's shot rocks. Tabanelli drew partially behind a centre stone to count one and Finland had a hit and stick for the win. They hit but rolled out, forcing an extra end but keeping the hammer.
Both teams showed signs of mounting pressure in the final end but Markku Karjalainen again threw a double take-out with his first throw. His second take-out attempt, however, may have been slightly over-thrown. It missed and Italy could finally put 2010 behind them and celebrate the steal that qualified them for South Korea next February.
Finland 0 3 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 - 5
Italy * 1 0 0 1 1 0 2 0 1 - 6
Andrea Tabanelli, Angela Menardi, Emanuele Spelorzi, Egidio Marchese, Rosanna MenazziA relieved Andrea Tabanelli said: “I was upset this morning, due to a mistake I made with my last stone, I lost us the game. We are very lucky to have a second chance and play again this afternoon. I am delighted that we won. This win is for my team, who are fantastic and have managed to form a strong bond.”
Finnish skip Vesa Hellman was philosophical. “We’ll try again next year. We showed massive improvement this year, so we will be coming to next year’s competition with a completely different mindset. After a couple of days, I’m sure we’ll be able to enjoy this achievement too, even though we didn’t manage to achieve the spot at the Worlds.”
Italy and Slovakia join Canada, Scotland, Norway, Russia, China, Korea, USA and Sweden at the 2012 Worlds in Chuncheon City, South Korea February 18 -25.
The 2012 Worlds Qualifying event will return to the Kisakallio Sports Institute, Lohja, Finland from the 3-8 November. Kate Caithness, President of the World Curling Federation, said: “The Finnish Curling Association and Kisakallio Sports Institute have delivered an excellent event. The institute provides top class facilities and optimal competition conditions for disabled athletes. We are delighted to return to Kisakallio once more and would like to thank the organizing committee for all their hard work this year.”
Click HERE for full statistics, line scores and team line-ups. The event also has a Facebook page.