Friday, 13 February 2015
Russia claimed their second World Wheelchair Curling Championship title after winning the gold medal game against China at the Kisakallio Sports Institute in Lohja.
Having thrashed Slovakia 12-1 in the sole semi-final earlier in the day, Russia went into the final in confident mood and were no doubt keen to avenge China's victory against them in yesterday's play-offs.
After stealing a single point in the first end, Russia moved into a 4-0 lead in the second when China skip HaiTao Wang hit an opposition guard and promoted it into the house.
China fought back, taking one point from the third end and stealing another in the fourth, but Russia pulled away again in the fifth when skip Andrey Smirnov attempted a draw into the house and fortunately hit his own guard, promoting it into a scoring position and earning his team three points.
Despite taking one point from the next end and stealing a single point in the seventh, China conceded in the eighth to give Russia a 7-4 victory and their first win in the competition since 2012, when it was held in Chuncheon, South Korea.
"I feel perfect - so, so happy," said Smirnov, who played alongside Marat Romanov as third, Svetlana Pakhomova as second, and Alexander Shevchenko as lead in the gold medal game.
"The second Championship win is certainly more rewarding because this time around I understood what it took to win a World Championship.
"The first time it was a little bit of surprise but this time it was a big challenge for us.
"I think it will be a good chance to further develop wheelchair curling in Russia.
"We have a lot of new facilities opening and new people who are starting to play so we believe this will be good for the sport in our homeland."
China, who had the youngest average team at this year's Championship, recorded their best-ever finish at the Championship in taking the silver medal.
"It's a pity we didn't win gold but this is the first time our wheelchair team has made it to the final so we have to be proud of our achievements," said Wang.
"We are very young with a long future ahead of us and I know we'll get better and better, year by year."
Meanwhile in the bronze medal game, hosts Finland won 8-5 against Slovakia to ensure their best-ever finish at the Championship as well.
With Finland 3-1 behind in the fourth, skip Markku Karjalainen had the opportunity to score six points with a draw into the house, and although his shot was too heavy, the five points scored put them 6-3 in front.
The two teams exchanged single points in the next three ends before Finland secured their win with a hit for one point in the eighth.
"We all feel incredible," said Karjalainen.
"It feels like winning [the gold].
"Today I think that it was the Finnish attitude and spirit that helped us get the win.
"The fans throughout the week have been fantastic and today they were our ninth stone."
Finland received further good news as Mina Mojtahedi was awarded the World Wheelchair Curling Championship Sportsmanship Award following nominations from all competitors.
The Award is given to the athlete who best exemplifies the traditional values of skill, honesty, fair play, sportsmanship and friendship.
Following the conclusion of the event, the latest Wheelchair World Rankings were published, which sees Canada and Russia retain the top two spots and China leapfrog Scotland/Great Britain into third position.
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