Lohja, Finland – Finland will play Norway in the 1v2 play-off and Latvia will play Italy in the 3v4 play-off following the final day of round-robin play at the World Wheelchair Curling Qualification event.
Finland beat Italy 8-7 in the morning session after an extremely close game. With the lead constantly changing throughout the game, Finland stole two points in the sixth end which helped them on their way, but needed an extra end to seal the victory.
Following the game, Finnish skip, Vesa Hellman, was delighted to reach the play-offs. He said: “We thought Norway would be the favourites here this week but it looks like Italy and Finland have done best so far. Now we will finish at worst second position but we feel very good about this because we have achieved our goal of getting into the play-offs. This gives us two chances of qualification – if we don’t win the first (play-off game) we will get another opportunity.”
In the afternoon Finland sealed first position in the standings after defeating Japan 7-2. With Norway, Latvia and Italy all finishing the round-robin with a record of 7-3, their final positions were determined by their draw shot challenge average as all three tied teams had one win against another one of the tied teams.
The final standings mean that Finland will face Norway who won their final game of the round-robin 8-4 against Italy. After a slow start to the week, Norway skip Rune Lorentsen was pleased his team’s form continued to improve game by game. He said: “It feels incredible to win that last game. We have struggled the whole tournament – against Latvia we beat them 11-1 two weeks ago in another event and lost to them this week. But now we, and our girl (Sissel Loechen) especially, have played very well in the last two matches, which is very helpful. We are still a little up and down - we have had two bad games in the front end of the round-robin, but I feel that we are on our way. It will be 50-50 in our game against Finland I think, but we have two chances for qualifying now, so that’s ok.”
Latvia also continued their recent form, first beating Japan 10-8 in the morning and then Turkey 10-2 in the afternoon. Afterwards, Latvia coach, Artis Zentelis, acknowledged the progress the team have made over the last three years. He said: “This is our third World Championship Qualification tournament – the first we lost all our games, the second we won a few games but still finished near the bottom, but this year has been good for us. We’ve had a lot of practice, perhaps three to four times per week, so there’s a professional attitude to the game and it looks like we are seeing the results.”
He added: “Of course the week was very good for us. It started very nicely with some tough games against Switzerland and Norway, and we got some nice wins. We lost twice in the last two weeks to this Italian team so we have some info about them. Hopefully tomorrow we will find our game and we are ready to beat Italy.”
In the other games, the Czech Republic ended the competition on a high, with an 8-4 victory over Switzerland in the morning and a 11-5 win against Germany in the afternoon. Although Germany had won their morning game 5-4 against Poland, their loss to the Czech’s ended their chances of the reaching the play-off stages.
Denmark also finished well, beating Turkey 13-5 in the morning, which included steals of two and three points in the third and fourth ends, before they went on to beat Poland 7-2 in the afternoon game.
The 1v2 and 3v4 play-off game will be played at 10:30 local time (EET). The winner of the 1v2 play-off will automatically qualify for the World Wheelchair Curling Championship 2013 while the loser of the 1v2 game will play the winner of the 3v4 play-off game at 16:30 (EET) to decide the final qualification spot.