Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Worlds Qualifying Day 5

Slovakia's Branislav Jakubec and Dušan Pitoňák
[Photo: Katja Kiiskinen/World Curling Federation]

At the start of the final day of round robin play at the Worlds Qualifying Tournament in Loja, Finland, seven teams held their own fate. They just had to avoid defeat in the final two draws to join Italy in the playoffs. Only one, Slovakia, succeeded, beating their Czech neighbours 8-4 in the morning and Germany 7 -5 in the afternoon.

The Czechs then had to beat Italy to hope for a tie-break, but the confident Italians, leading the round robin table as they had in 2010, were in no mood to be beaten, eliminating the Czechs  7-1.

Italy's morning opponents, Denmark had only to win one of their final two games to clinch a playoff spot, but lost to the leaders 8-4 and then lost to Japan 6-5 in the day's tightest game. Japan were ahead 4-1 at the break, but saw the Danes level  the score with a steal of 2 in the 8th. Japan, already eliminated after suffering a 5th loss to Finland in the morning, played spoiler by taking the extra end for a 6 -5 win that pushed the Danes into a tie-break.

Germany and Switzerland could not both avoid a 4th defeat as they played each other in the morning, Germany coming out on top  6-3. Switzerland salvaged a tie-break chance by beating bottom of the table Latvia 9-4 in the final draw.

Finland's skip Vesa Hellman[Photo: Katja Kiiskinen/World Curling Federation]

With Italy facing Slovakia in the Page 1 vs.2 game, there were four teams on four losses to decide who played in the Page 3 vs. 4 game, In the tie-breakers, Germany completed a miserable day for Denmark by posting a 4 in the 2nd end and holding on for a 7-5 win. Hosts Finland gave the home fans a stake in tomorrow's playoff round, beating Switzerland 7-3 after getting off to a 4-0 lead after 3 ends.

The winner of tomorrow's Italy vs Slovakia game will claim the first qualification spot, while the loser will play the winner of the Germany vs. Finland game to decide who gets the second qualification place The two teams will join the eight (Canada, Scotland, Norway, Russia, China, Korea, USA and Sweden) already qualified for the 2012 Worlds next February 18-25 in South Korea.

Standings after Draw 9 and tie-breaks

Italy       7 - 1
Slovakia    5 - 3
Finland     5 - 4 won tie-break
Germany     5 - 4 won tie-break
Denmark     4 - 5 lost tie-break
Switzerland 4 - 5 lost tie-break
Czech Rep . 3 - 5
Japan       3 - 5
Latvia      2 - 6

Click HERE for full statistics, line scores and team line-ups. The event also has a Facebook page.

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