Sunday, November 6, 2011

Worlds Qualifying Day 2

Team Italy
Andrea Tabanelli, Egidio Marchese, Emanuele Spelorzi, Angela Menardi, Rosanna Menazzi

Italy are a Cinderella team. They dropped into the qualifying pool by losing in a 5 way relegation tie-break at the 2009 Worlds, and last year in this event, made the 1 vs. 2 game before losing to both China and Russia.

Their two-time Paralympics skip, Andrea Tabanelli, had to leave before play began last year, but after an opening bye, has steered his team to two wins on Day 2, 9-2 over Slovakia and 10-4 over Latvia.

A very experienced neutral observer reports: "Latvia tied Italy after 5 ends but missed their opportunities to pressure Italy when it mattered. Their lack of strategic understanding often let Italy off the hook. Latvia missed opportunities to score a big end on numerous errors."

A tough assessment of a rookie team, but probably more useful to them than the usual anodyne public relations coach-speak if the team is serious about competing at the world level.

Team Latvia
Aleksandrs Dimbovkis, Ojars Briedis, Maris Dzelzkalns, Polina Rozkova, Vita Miezite

Germany and Switzerland also posted two wins. Germany beat newcomers Latvia 9-5 and were gracious in post game remarks.

"We were really surprised by how strong a team Latvia was," said skip Jens J├Ąger. "They are very precise and good players and have clearly very good team spirit. It is always a great feeling when the wheelchair curling family grows and grows."

Germany blanked Japan 12-0 in the afternoon draw.

Co-leaders Switzerland stole their way to an early  7-2 lead against the Czechs in Draw 2 before hanging on for a 7-6 victory. They repeated the pattern against Slovakia in Draw 4, leading 7-0 after two ends before cementing a 10-6 win with 2 in the 8th.

Hosts Finland posted their first win with a 5-ender and a 4-ender in a 14-1 rout of Denmark. The Finns shot an impressive 67% as a team.

"It was like having a different team on the ice," said lead Tuomo Aarnikka. "We had a great start to the game. We stole five points in the second end and after that we managed to keep the game simple for us and the opposition was the one who had to keep taking the risks."

The Finns were unable to maintain momentum, however, surrendering 6 steals in an 8-1 loss to the Czech Republic in Draw 3.

Standings after Draw 3

Germany      3 - 0
Switzerland  3 - 0
Italy        2 - 0
Czech Rep.   1 - 2
Latvia       1 - 2
Finland      1 - 2
Japan        0 - 2
Denmark      0 - 2

Click HERE for full statistics, line scores and team line-ups.

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