Saturday February 23 -
Gold Medal game
For all the wonderful shots in a very
well played final between Sweden and Canada, it was a miss by Swedish
skip Jalle Jungnell with his final stone that was the difference.
Sweden had beaten Canada twice but surrendered the advantage of last
rock when they gave up a steal in the 1st. The teams exchanged singles
until a blank in 7 after a tricky take-out by Canadian skip Jim
Armstrong, gave Canada the hammer in the final end.
Sweden were in with a good chance to steal, with both teams ducking
behind overlapping corner guards. Jalle sat shot with his first stone,
Jim sat shot after following him down, and then Jalle missed when his
attempted hit jammed, and Canada did not have to throw their final
"It wasn't pretty," Jim told his teammates as they came off the ice.
Sweden played them tough. These teams met in the 2009 final, and back
then Sweden lost by being tempted to hit stones on the edge of the 12.
They played a much smarter game this year, and were potentially one shot
away from reversing the score. But all credit to Canada, who continued
their run of 4 titles in 4 attempts with Jim Armstrong at the helm.
Saturday February 23 -
Bronze Medal game
USA played China in the bronze medal
game, a repeat of the 3 vs 4 playoff game which USA won handily. Things
went America's way in this game too early on, as they opened with a
deuce, and exchanged singles for a 4-2 lead after 5 ends. China took 2
in the 6th and looked set to close out a win in the 7th.
With China sitting two USA's 3rd, David
Palmer, was twice asked to execute 20 foot runbacks, about as low
percentage a shot as a freeze without sweepers. Skip Patrick McDonald
redeemed himself when, facing 3, he threaded his final rock through the
narrowest of ports to take a single and a 5-4 lead into the 8th.
In the final end both sides played hits,
with the first miss likely to prove disaster. As the hit stone worked
its way to the front of the house and eventually out of the rings, it
was up to Palmer to draw into the empty house. He was heavy. China came
in, Palmer crashed on the front stone, and China came in again, sitting
2 with last rock. An exchange of hits by the skips was always going to
leave USA one short, and they surrendered the 2 and lost 6-5.
Friday February 22 -
Canada had an unexpected second game
today as they faced USA in the semi-final. They began with a steal of 1,
held USA to a single, took 2, held USA to a single and took
another 2 and stole 1. All text book stuff. Down 6-2 in the 7th USA
wasted two early stones attempting to hit a Canada stone in the rings
and eventually had to be bailed out by a great draw from skip Patrick
McDonald, facing 3, who threaded his last rock to tap Canada's shot
stone off the button.
In the final end, down 3, USA had 2 in
the house, and a corner guard the other side of the sheet. A draw into
the rings would have seen the sitting 3, but they chose to attempt a
guard which even if perfect could not have covered both stones, and the opportunity was lost. They were run out of rocks, losing
The game was a good example of the huge
advantage Canada carries into every game, relying on Skip Armstrong not
to make the wrong calls. But as a rueful McDonald noted after the
defeat, "He's been doing this for longer than I've been alive."
USA must face China again for the bronze
medal, while Sweden try for a third consecutive win over Canada for
Friday February 22 -
Sweden justified their first place Round
Robin ranking by inflicting a second defeat on Canada in the 1 vs 2 Page
playoff game. Joanna Kelly, the WCF media person who has been
single-handedly covering the tournament, writes: The key moment
came in the sixth end when Swedish skip Jalle Jungnell produced an
excellent promotion takeout to score two and lead 5-3. In the seventh
end, Jungnell missed two attempted draws and left Canadian skip Jim
Armstrong with a draw for two to tie the game at 5-5.
In the eighth end, Sweden was able to hit
and roll a stone into the four foot under Canadian cover. Armstrong was
unable to move it. Jungnell didn’t need to play his last stone taking
the one point for a 6-5 win.
Swedish skip Jalle Jungnell said: “We
have set our strategy for playing Canada and I think it is also the
Swedish mentality when we meet a very good team, we play better, we are
motivated I think. We always have a problem with the less good teams!
“I still think that Canada is the most complete team. They are
professional and a very good team. But we have had a very good week and
it is possible for us to win and beat them. I have seen it – we’ve done
it twice now!"
Canadian Skip Jim Armstrong said " “We
certainly wanted to get some rocks in play and plug up the centre which
we managed to do. We had our opportunity, we had our rock on the button
and we were throwing a guard and just got a little wide and didn’t
cover. They made a great hit and roll and from then I was left trying to
The 3v4 game between USA and China was
more one sided. China stole their way into the game but from the third
end the USA came back and were able to level the score at 3-3 and went
on to steal a further five points over the next three ends. China
managed to get one in the seventh end and was run out of stones in the
eighth for an 8-4 final score.
USA skip Patrick McDonald said that after
China had capitalised on some misses "we got into a groove and we hit
everything. I can’t say enough about the rest of the guys, they set up
stuff and made my shots easy and made it tough for them to get some in.”
Canada plays USA in the semi-final later.
Friday February 22 -
Russia and China played a tie break game
for the right to challenge USA later today in the 3 vs 4 Page playoff
China got off to a fast start, leading
4-0 after 3 ends. Russia pulled back two at the break but then gave up 4
when, with China laying 3 in he house, Russian skip Andrey Smirnov was
unable to make either of his two stones come close to the rings. China
ended up taking 4 and alternate Svetlana Pakhomova took over at lead as
Smirnov was replaced. China won 8-3 and will play USA later today.
Thursday February 21 -
Draw 11 and tie-breaks
Every game in the final round robin draw
at the 2013 World Championships had meaning, and when the games and the
first round of tie breaks were finished, standings were still not
Sweden defeated Finland 10-8 to take over
top spot from Canada, who had lead the entire tournament. USA blew the
chance of a 1-2 game spot when they lost to Scotland 7-5. That result
kept Scotland's playoff hopes alive, because China, on a fine run
following a 0-3 start, failed to beat struggling Slovakia; 8-5 the
result, pushing Slovakia to safety without a relegation tie-break.
Korea needed to beat Norway and hope for
losses. They did win, 8-3, but Slovakia's win doomed them to relegation.
Norway's skip Rune Lorentsen's goal had been to avoid a second
successive Qualifying Tournament, but he will join Korea in Finland in
November 2014 for the next Worlds Qualifying round.
In a 3-way tie for 4th, Russia played
Scotland with the winner to face China at 9am Saturday, before the medal
round games begin. The teams had ground out the lowest ever 8 end score
when they met in round robin play (2-1 to Russia) but Russia with a
steal of 2 in the 5th and a 3 in the 7th, built a 7-3 lead.
Scotland had moved Aileen Nielson to 3rd
for the final day's play, and Gregor Ewan had a chance to pull the game
out by adding to the 2 Scots shot stones. When he missed an open draw
with his first rock, he had little chance to split in a long guard
with his last, and Russia went through 7-5.
Though Slovakia beat Finland 8-4 in a
tie-break game for 7/8 place with 2014 Paralympic points on the line,
they were both safe as 8th place earned 3 points and Germany were the
leading contender with just 2.
This means that the 2014 Paralympics will
be played between the teams at this championship.
Thursday February 21 -
China failed to clinch the final playoff
spot, losing to Sweden 8-3. Sweden can claim 1st place from Canada if
they beat Finland in the final round robin draw.
USA struggled to get past Russia, 5-4 in an extra. Russia showed their
inexperience when, despite a time out talk with their young coach, they
left a centre line guard while USA lined a series of shot stones
crowding the button. By the time Russia decided to clear the guard with
their skip's first stone, it was too late. A heave on their last rock
moved some stones, but not enough to prevent USA stealing the winning
Norway fought to the bitter end against Canada. Down 6-2 at the break,
they pulled even after 7 only to give up a singe in the 8h to lose 7-6.
That means they are in a do or die fight with fellow stragglers Korea,
who despite waiting until the last day to post their first win, 9-1 over
Slovakia, may yet avoid relegation through a tie-break. In fact the
bottom six teams are all still at risk of relegation.
All the final draw games are meaningful. China need a win to clinch a
playoff berth, and Finland need a win or help to gain at least 8th place
to push Germany out of next year's final Paralympic slot. Only the top 3
teams are certain to be playing for medals, and even then their playoff
positions are not certain.
Wednesday February 20 -
Wednesday afternoon and evening saw the
completion of Draw 10 and the games from Draw 4 held over from the
Canada, Sweden and USA guaranteed their playoff places, with China
looking favourite to join them if they win one of their final two games.
Korea, without a win, will play in next year's Paralympics, but will
need to win both their final games and look for help if they are not to
be forced to re-qualify for the 2015 Worlds by playing in the 2014
Who will join them is unclear as 6 teams sit with either 5 losses, or
the potential to have 5 losses. Finland need a win in their last game to
guarantee them enough points for a place in the Paralympics at the
expense of Germany. Losses by other teams would have the same effect.
Canada shook off their loss to Sweden, giving alternate a game at lead
in place of Sonja Gaudet, and coming out 8-2 winners over Finland.
Norway, in danger of a repeat trip to the Qualifying Tournament, beat
Russia 9-5. Scotland saw their playoff hopes almost certainly disappear
while giving Slovakia only their second win 5-2.
USA played their delayed match against winless Korea, posting a 7-3
result that still gives them a chance at the 1vs2 game in the playoffs.
Sweden, the other side with just one defeat, beat Slovakia 8-2, and a
surging China posted their 4th successive win, 7-4 over Norway.
Wednesday February 20 -
Canada suffered their first defeat, and
potentially surrender top spot to Sweden depending on the later draws.
Sweden were coming off two nail-biting wins yesterday, while Canada had
cruised to a 6-0 record, but it was Sweden who started stronger, leading
6-2 after 5 ends. Canada pulled 3 back in the 6th and then edged ahead
with a steal of 2 in the 7th. In a rock filled 8th, both sides threaded
shot stones into the rings. A draw by Armstrong on his first stone sat
shot in the 4 foot, but a tap back by Jungnell saw Sweden sitting 2.
Armstrong was unable to find his way through with his last stone,
conceding 2 to Sweden in their 8-7 win.
Swedish skip Jalle Jungnell said: “We knew before the game that we had
to make a lot of draws today, so we were prepared for that. I think we
were very good in the first end with our draws. We got a grip on them.
It seems like we had control of the game. But as usual we like to make
things a bit exciting! So we had one end when Glenn [Ikonen] missed one
and I missed one and then they got the three!”
“Full marks to them today,” admitted Canadian skip Jim Armstrong on
Sweden’s performance. He added: “the ice was a little tricky and they
got on to it quicker than we did and we ended up chasing them. It’s a
tough game when you are playing catch up.”
USA had an extraordinary game against
Finland, giving up steals in 5 of the first 7 ends. A lone 4 spot in the
4th kept them in the game. In the 8th, sitting 3 with the only 2 Finnish
stones out the side of the rings, skip Pat McDonald missed his open draw
into the rings for the winning 4th point. In the extra, Finland were
unable to draw into the house with their last stone, and USA kept up
with the leaders with an 8-7 win.
Russia and Scotland played as though
allowing a stone n the rings was against the rules, posting the lowest
ever 8 end final score - a 2-1 win for Russia. In the final end, with
skip stones to come, Scotland were lying 2 with rocks out front. They
called a time-out and agreed with their coach that they needed to fill
the path into the rings - a top 12 or guard. Aileen Neilson's stone was
heavy, stopping back 4. Russia tried to follow it down, but crashed on a
guard. so Aileen had a second chance to plug the hole. Again it was
heavy, and Russian skip Andre Smirnov played a very nice double takeout
for the win.
Korea kept their perfect loss record,
this time handing China their 3rd win after a 0-3 start,
There are afternoon games, and also 2
evening games to make up for those lost in the postponement of Draw 4.
See games in red in the table below.
Tuesday February 19 -
Norway's woes were compounded when, after
an extra end defeat in the morning, they gave up a steal of 1 in the
final end of a 6-5 loss to newcomers Finland.
Scotland continued their up and down form
falling behind China early and never catching up. Their loss drops them
into a large group with 3 losses, and a 2 game gap has opened between
the top 3 and the rest of the field. China, after losing their first 3
games, are still in contention.
That is more than can be said for the
collapsing Koreans, who were 6-3 down against Sweden after 7. They
fought back to tie the score, only to see that illusive first win slip
away as Sweden won its second extra end match of the day.
USA shook off their morning's first
defeat, easily handling Slovakia 9-1 and taking revenge for their
tie-break loss in 2012. USA remain tied with Sweden in second place
behind Canada who had a bye.
Tuesday February 19 -
Norway and Sweden exchanged singles,
deuces and 4 spots as the fought to an 8-8 tie after 8 ends. In the
extra, Norway's 3rd Jostein Stordahl was long on an attempted guard,
sitting on the button. A series of open hits followed, with Swedish skip
Jalle Jungnell's first rock takeout just stopping in the back 12 foot.
With the whole rings for a final draw, Norway skip Rune Lorentsen was
heavy but sitting shot back 12, partially covered. Jalle chose to hit
rather than draw to the 8 foot, and made his hit and stick to pick up 2
for an 10-8 win.
Canada faced USA in the battle of
unbeaten teams. USA held Canada to singles in every end but one, but
could only score 1 themselves, losing 7-1.
Russia spanked Slovakia 10-3. a score
inflated because WCF rules count stones in scoring position even when
the end finishes early with a handshake.
Monday February 18 -
Draws 5 & 6
Canada (5-0) and USA (3-0) are the only
unbeaten teams after 5 rounds of play at the 2013 World Wheelchair
Curling Championships, though because of byes and a postponed draw,
Canada has played 2 games more than the Americans.
Canada had what looked like the toughest
opening schedule of any of the teams, but have cruised through without
really being pressured. An opening 3 against morning opponents China
gave them the momentum for their 9 - 5, and were comfortably ahead
before conceding 3 in the 7th, the first end they have given up more
than a deuce. They followed with a 7-3 win over Slovakia, who have yet
to find the magic that propelled them into the 2012 playoffs as rookies.
USA had a tough match against another
unbeaten side, vastly experienced Sweden. The Americans took 2 in the
6th, the only crooked number of the match, to nose ahead 4-3, then stole
a point in the 7th, holding on for a 5-4 win.
Scotland posted two wins to climb into
playoff position, beating winless Korea 6-5 and following with a 5-2
defeat of Norway. Korea, finalists in 2012 and with the same team this
year, sit 0-4 and continue to make a habit of medalling and failing in
alternate years. Korea's afternoon 8-7 loss to Finland may have put paid
to their chances of making the playoffs. Finland changed skips, with
their 4th stone thrower, Markku Karjalainen taking over from third Vesa
Hellman. Marrku marked the occasion with a great final rock draw for 2
to win the game.
Russia used Jim Armstrong's experience as
an excuse for losing to Canada, but though they beat rookie Finland 7-3,
they fell to previously winless China 5-3 in the afternoon draw.
China is a noticeably young team in a field where the average age
probably approaches 50. Their skip, Haitao Wang (24) explained
that after their loss against Canada in the morning he had told his team
to clear their thoughts and to focus solely on the game against the
Russians. Wang said the win was psychologically very important for his
team and they must build on it for the rest of the event.
Sunday February 17 -
Sunday's afternoon draw was postponed
because of ice plant failure. The draw will be rescheduled at a later
Sunday February 17 -
The featured game of Draw 3 did not do
justice to the excellent live video coverage, as Sweden beat Scotland
5-3 in a dour struggle with both sides playing to the maxim, if you can
see it, try and hit it.
Scotland showed admirable shot
preparation, each player going through a pre-shot routine and throwing
an impressive 67% as a team. Their problem was not adapting their
tactics to the scoreline.
Sweden nosed ahead with a 2 in the 4th,
but Scotland, even in the last end, when down 1 without hammer,
continued to call for lead stones into the rings. Swedish lead Kristina
Ulander, who had been hitting all evening, continued to take them out.
It was only after a couple of misses late in the end that Scotland had a
chance to guard a potential tying stone. Skip Aileen Nielson's first
guard was peeled and her second was too tight, allowing Swedish skip
Jalle Jungnell a straightforward double takeout for the win.
Defending champions Russia lost 8-5 to
Canada despite pulling ahead 4-3 after 5 ends.Russia gave up 3 in the 6th
when Canadian skip Jim Armstrong made a great draw around a wall of
guards. “The Russians certainly did put us under a bit of
pressure there," said Armstrong. "They played very well. We gave them
opportunities and fortunately they didn’t convert them all.”
Slovakia, last year's rookies, scored 5 in the 6th against this
year's rookie team Finland, winning 9-3. Finland’s fourth player Markku
Karjalainen missed a freeze, a very low percentage shot without
sweeping, and possibly a call lacking experience.
USA piled on the points against
Norway stealing 7 points in a 10-2 win. US skip Patrick McDonald put his
last stone in the 4th on the button and Norwegian skip Rune Lorentsen
missed a pressure last shot, allowing the Americans to steal four
points. USA went on to steal 3 more in the 5th.
Saturday February 16 -
Canada cruised to the top of the
standings beating Scotland 8-4. Scots skip Aileen Neilson's attempted
draw in the 6th promoted a Canadian guard into the house giving up a
steal of 4, the second 4 Scotland have given up in their 2 games.
In a rematch of last year's finalists,
Russia got off to a fast start, opening with 4 stolen points in their
8-4 win over struggling Korea. Having lost in the opening draw,
Russian Skip Andrey Smirnov said he and his team had spent the break
between the morning and afternoon sessions analysing the game against
Sweden so as not to make the same mistakes. China,
the other 2012 medallists, fell to rookies Finland 8-4.
Norway, who had won their 3 warm-up
tournaments, opened their account with a comfortable 7-1 defeat of
Slovakia, who had beaten them in the opening 2012 draw.
The ice conditions are reported to be
excellent. "The ice was terrific," said TC leader Wendy Morgan, a
judgement supported by skip Armstrong. "They've done wonders with the
Saturday February 16 -
Canada showed they have come to play as
they brushed off Korea 7-1 in 7 ends in the opening draw. A cagey start
saw Canada with a 2-1 lead after 5, but they went on to steal the next 5
points before handshakes.
“We were actually a little slow out of
the gate,” said skip Armstrong. “This has been a trial year,
getting ready for next year, so we’ve not had too many opportunities to
play together. We have a couple of new faces on the team this year and I
think we will get stronger and used to each other."
Scotland looked too powerful for rookie
Finland, stealing the first 4 points before receiving a shock when
Finland equalised at the break. Scotland regrouped, adding 6 more points
for a 10-4 win.
It was all Sweden in their opener against
hosts and defending champions Russia Ahead 3-1 at the break, Sweden added
5 stolen points to win 8-1 in 7 ends. "It looks like an easy win," said Swedish
skip Jalle Jungnell, "but
no – that was not the case. It was actually really close. They lost it
in one end where we took two from them and then the game ran away for
In the closest game of the opening draw
USA needed their 3 in the 4th to go into the break tied with China. Skip
Patrick McDonald said "in
our preparations for this, we worked on how not to panic and take things
shot by shot." USA stole 2
in the 7th before running China out of rocks for a 7-4 win.
Friday February 15 -
As in Vancouver 2009, this year's World
Wheelchair Curling Championships inaugurates a new Olympic and
Paralympic facility although with the exception of rookie finalists
Finland, Canada is the only team with more than one new player.
For the first time since 2009 Canada will not compete as defending
champions. Jim Armstrong returns as skip after his appeal-reduced six
month doping suspension. His team has a lot of experience at the front
end. Sonja Gaudet (BC) has played lead since Torino in 2006, and Ina
Forrest (BC) has thrown second stones since debuting as alternate in
Last year's Albertan rookies have been replaced by Mark Ideson (ON) and
Dennis Thiessen (MB). Ideson, though a relative newcomer to the sport,
fits Canada’s preferred profile; young, athletic and fit. He will call
the game if Jim were unable to play. Dennis Thiessen has won medals at
four Canadian Nationals.
Canada, skipped by an elite able-bodied curler with decades longer
experience than the wheelchair sport has been in existence, will be
favourites. Though Jim may not be an all-star thrower, his understanding
of the game, reading ice and calling only the shots that can be made, is
a huge if not insurmountable advantage. Without Jim Canada have failed
to make the podium since 2006; with him they won three successive
Who will be Canada's chief challenger? “Russia looks really strong,”
says Team Canada coach Joe Rea. “So does Korea, but there will be no
Traditional foe Scotland have a full time coach spending at least two
days a week on ice with his top players. Aileen Nielson is in her fourth
year as skip, now supported by 3rd Gregor Ewan. Tom Killin, who has been
part of the team since Frank Duffy was as dominant as Armstrong is now,
may throw lead though long time lead Angie Malone rejoins the team as a
late replacement for rookie Gil Keith. This leaves Robert McPherson
(2nd) as the one new face to lower the team's average age. Zummack
thinks Scotland can medal if the team maintains its confidence in the
face of inevitable setbacks.
Sweden, after taking bronze in Vancouver, have disbanded, rejoined,
disbanded and again rejoined for a last hurrah with Jalle Jungnell at
skip. "Last year we were punished for our lack of preparation," he says,
(they equaled Canada and Scotland at 3-6) "and this year we are again
short of preparation." But with Glenn Ikonen returning, and only lead
Anette Willhelm resisting a return to competitive play, they have enough
experience at this level to secure their minimal aim of avoiding
That was the 2012 fate of twice champion Norway, who had to fight
through a strong qualifying field last November to rejoin the
championship. They also won in Denmark and Scotland, but have had to
make a last minute change to their team, Ole Fredrik Syversen replacing
Per Fagerhoi. Their skip, Rune Lorentsen, is a notoriously poor
traveler, and will appreciate the comparative proximity of the Sochi
site. Norway took bronze in Prague 2011, bracketed by 9th places
finishes in distant Vancouver and Korea.
Korea changed the game's tactics when their up-weight throwing en route
to a silver medal in 2008, shocked international coaches into redefining
wheelchair curling as a hitting game. In 2009 they spent the week
squabbling with their coach. In 2010 they almost pulled back an 8-0
halftime deficit in the final against Canada. In 2011 they again fell
back. In 2012 they made another final. Will 2013 be an off year? They
have the power to win, especially if the ice is straight.
Another team with fearsome power is China. Their athletes are based at
the sports rehabilitation centre at Harbin, where disabled youths are
selected for training in whatever sport most closely fits their physical
profile. It is a young and very athletic team with a low delivery style,
faces close to the stone, that would be a challenge for some of the more
rotund European players.
Last year Russia came from nowhere to win it all. Will the home crowd
prove an inspiration or distraction? Russia travel more than any other
team, gathering the experience they hope will bring gold at next year's
USA have completely rebuilt the team that has fallen one game short of a
chance of a medal in four of the last five years. Skip Patrick
MacDonald, an alternate in 2009, moved his family from California to
Wisconsin to be closer to his coaches, proof of his determination to
achieve that elusive medal breakthrough and gain the publicity that will
expand the sport nationwide. This year's team has just one change; the
addition of Meghan Lino, a second female as alternate.
Finland are making their first Worlds appearance and may find the jump
in competition challenging. But then that’s how I felt about
last year and they made the playoffs.
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