Sochi, Russia – Reigning world champions Canada made it two wins from two on the opening day of play of the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games wheelchair curling competition taking place in the Ice Cube Curling Centre in Sochi, Russia.
Canada picked up their first win in the morning session of play as skip Jim Armstrong and his team defeated Great Britain in what proved to be a game of two halves.
Great Britain’s Aileen Neilson, the only female skip in the competition, stole single points in the first two ends to take a two point lead.
Canada then levelled the game in the third end, scoring two points before Great Britain scored another single point to take the lead at 3-2 going into the fourth end break.
After scoring a single point in the fifth end, Canada then stole a single point in the sixth end to take the lead for the first time in the game.
In the seventh end, Canada’s Armstrong was facing two British counting stones when he made a hit and rolled behind cover. Great Britain skip Neilson could not get the weight right with her final stone giving Canada another single point steal and a crucial two point advantage going into the eighth and final end.
Canada rounded off the game with another steal of one point to leave the final score 6-3 in their favour.
On the next sheet, Norway defeated Korea 10-0 in only six ends. After blanking the first two ends Norway took the lead that they were never to lose in the third end. With his first stone, Norway skip Rune Lorentsen played a difficult promotion take-out to lay shot and second stone which eventually led to a score of two points in the third end.
The final blow for Korea came in the sixth end when Norway took another four points after which point Korea conceded the game.
Afterwards, Norway skip Rune Lorentsen said: “"Today they (Korea) didn't find the ice. It curls a lot so if you're a little bit too weak on the light take-outs it curls over. We had some of them so we had to increase the speed a little bit."
Slovakia made a winning start on their Paralympic Winter Games curling competition debut as they defeated USA 6-4.
Slovakia took an early 3-0 lead after two ends, which they would never lose. USA did battle back however, taking a single point in the third end before stealing a single point in the fourth end.
After the break, Slovakia took control of the game, taking a single point in the fifth end. In the next end, skip Radoslav Duris made a hit and roll in the eight foot ring to sit behind cover which eventually led to another steal of one point to give them a 5-2 lead.
Although USA scored another two points in the seventh end Slovakia rounded of the game with a score of one point to win the game 6-4.
Following their win, Slovakia skip Radoslav Duris admitted the occasion got to them a little. He said: “It was our first Paralympic game so it is very special for all of us. We were quite nervous for this match, we missed a few stones and were lucky to win. It is a learning experience that we will take into the next game.”
Hosts Russia got off with a win as well in their game against last year’s World Wheelchair Curling Championship bronze medallists, China, to the delight of the large, vocal home support.
The key moment in this game came in the sixth end when Russia skip Andrey Smirnov drew behind a guard to force China skip Haitao Wang to also play a draw. However, the Chinese skip was light and gave up a steal of one point as Russia went on to win by a single point – 5-4.
After the game, Russia skip Andrey Smirnov was grateful for the large number of Russian’s who turned out to support his team. He said: “I was caught off guard by it at first; it was very unexpected. After my ears adjusted it didn't sound like noise, it sounded like support.”
He continued: “To win is always a nice moment, but to win in our country, in front of our people, then it becomes a very nice moment. Our only hopes are to play good, like we can, and to represent our country with honour. When we do that we will feel like it has been a successful Games."
In the afternoon session, Canada picked up their second win of the day against hosts Russia. It was a tight game throughout with the score tied at 2-2 at the fourth end break.
It wasn’t until the eighth end that Canada sealed their victory. Third player Ina Forrest drew around two front stones to the four foot rings which forced Russia to try a difficult tap-back to get shot stone which they failed to execute, meaning Canada took the one point required to seal their 5-4 win.
Afterwards skip Jim Armstrong said: “We won that one in spite of ourselves. We've been struggling - we're struggling here! I'm struggling. You look across all the sheets and it seems like there's kind of the same thing all across. Another day or two and I think everyone will start to believe and everyone will start to play better."
Sweden started their Paralympic campaign in the afternoon and got off to a great start, defeating debutants Finland by 7-6.
Both teams swapped scores of three points in the first two ends, but Finland edged in front 5-4 by the fourth end break thanks to a score of two points in the fourth end.
The seventh end proved the turning point for Sweden. With his first stone, Sweden skip Jalle Jungnell made a takeout to which ended up behind cover.
This forced pressure on Finland and with his last shot, Finnish skip Markku Karjalainen was light with his last draw giving Sweden a steal of one point and a crucial two point lead going into the last end.
As Finland could only score one point in the last end, Sweden took the win by 7-6.
Shortly after coming off the ice, Sweden third Kicki Ulander said: "It means a lot to us to get a good start in the tournament. It's fantastic to have so many fans cheering and watching curling."
Korea bounced back from their heavy loss to Norway earlier in the day to beat USA.
Korea started well, taking three points in the first end. USA took one point back in the next end before Korea skip Myung-Jin Kim, with his last stone, made a take-out to score three points in the third end and take a 6-1 lead.
Although the USA narrowed the gap by scoring three points of their own in the next end, they could not find a way back into the game and conceded defeat with the score 9-5 to Korea after seven ends of play.
Following their win, Korea skip Myung-Jin Kim reflected on their earlier defeat to Norway. He said: “The only thing we changed from this morning was trying to change all of our emotions from one game to another. We didn't change anything else. We just tried to focus on the game we were playing."
Norway could not make it two wins from two as they lost out to China. After taking two points in the first end, China took a crucial lead in the third end when skip Haitao Wang made a take-out in the four foot ring whilst also raising another into the back of the 12 foot ring behind cover.
After Norway skip Rune Lorentsen’s take-out attempt wrecked on one of his own stones, Chinese skip Wang made a take-out to score three points.
With the score 6-1 at the fourth end break, Norway tried to get back into the game but decided to concede after seven ends with the final score 7-3.
Play begins tomorrow at 09:30 followed by another session at 15:30 (both times MSK).
Session 1: Russia 5, China 4; Korea 0, Norway 10; Canada 6, Great Britain 3; Slovakia 6, USA 4 (bye - Finland and Sweden)
Session 2: Sweden 7, Finland 6; Canada 5, Russia 4; USA 5, Korea 9; Norway 3, China 7 (bye – Great Britain and Slovakia)
Standings after 2 sessions of play:
1. Canada 2-0
2. Slovakia 1-0
2. Sweden 1-0
4. China 1-1
4. Korea 1-1
4. Norway 1-1
4. Russia 1-1
8. Finland 0-1
8. Great Britain 0-1
10. USA 0-2
Notes to Editors
Rankings are determined by rule C9 of the World Curling Federation's ‘The Rules of Curling and Rules of Competition’. Details can be obtained at www.worldcurling.org/rules-and-regulations
Results, statistics, news and photos from the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games curling competition can be seen here on the World Curling Federation’s official event website: http://www.sochi2014.curlingevents.com
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Paralympic Winter Games Live Coverage:
For live coverage from the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games visit:
About Wheelchair Curling:
Wheelchair curling is similar in many ways to its able-bodied parent game, except that no sweeping takes place, and each game consists of eight instead of ten ends.
More information about Wheelchair Curling see: http://www.worldcurling.org/wheelchair-curling and http://www.worldcurling.org/curling-at-the-paralympics
Curling at the Paralympic Winter Games
The first World Wheelchair Curling Championship was held in January 2002 and in March that year, the International Paralympic Committee granted official medal status to Wheelchair Curling for mixed gender teams.
The Organizing Committee of the Turin 2006 Paralympic Winter Games agreed to include Wheelchair Curling in their programme.
Wheelchair Curling made its second appearance at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.
Eight teams participated in Turin. The number of teams competing in the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games was increased to ten.
Past Paralympic Winter Games Results:
2010: Canada (gold); Korea (silver); Sweden (bronze)
2006: Canada (gold); Great Britain (silver); Sweden (bronze)
About the World Curling Federation http://www.worldcurling.org The World Curling Federation (WCF) is the international sport federation governing the Olympic winter sport of curling and the Paralympic winter sport of wheelchair curling. The WCF is one of seven International Sports Federations currently part of the Winter Olympic programme. It represents 53 Member Associations and is generally acknowledged to direct one of the fastest-growing international winter sports.