Karlstad, Sweden – There was still plenty to play for as the men's round-robin section of the Le Gruyere European Curling Championships concluded in Karlstad, Sweden on Wednesday night.
Sweden and defending champions Norway were fighting to see who would eventually top the rankings. In this entertaining game, Sweden took an early lead when skip Niklas Edin drew for three points in the third end.
In the sixth end, Norway's skip Thomas Ulsrud played a hit and roll to score two points and close the gap to 5-4 for Sweden. Eventually it came down to the tenth end when Edin hit to score the one point he needed for a 7-6 win and to top the rankings.
Afterwards, Edin said: "It feels really good. I think we came in as favourites and we’ve played really well the whole week. We had a good start in the game and almost messed it up in the middle, but he gave me a chance with the last shot and we took it, so we’re really happy about my team’s performance.”
Sweden now go on to face the Czech Republic in the Page 1-2 Play-off game. The Czechs beat Denmark by 7-6 when skip Jiri Snitil played a draw-shot for one point in the tenth end and a win that put them into second place on the table.
After the game, a pleased Snitil said: "It feels unbelievable, perfect. The key tonight was to be patient. The most important end was the seventh end, when we managed to blank and then score two in the eight. I can’t say we did anything better than the Danish, we always have close games with them.”
About the prospect of facing Sweden in the play-off he said: "We got killed in the first game by them. We played six ends and that was it. So we need to improve."
The Germany - France encounter would decide which of these two would be relegated to next year's B division. France's Thomas Dufour was fighting all the way and he produced a nice draw shot in the sixth end to score four and take a 7-6 lead. Eventually France won 12-9 meaning Germany arre relegated for the first time in the event's history.
Dufour was delighted after the game. He said: "It was an incredible game – the pressure was very high for both teams, because nobody wants to go back to the B group. I am very pleased that we made it, but sorry for them and wish them all the best."
Switzerland were still in the medal hunt when they came onto the ice to play Russia, but they suffered an early set-back when Russian skip Andrey Drozdov had a hit to open the scoring with four points in the second end. Switzerland never really recovered from this and Russia won 8-6, meaning that neither of these two nations will compete for medals at this European Championship.
Scotland were trying to ensure their place in the line-up of this season's World Championships as they faced Hungary. They moved into a 3-1 lead when skip Tom Brewster hit for two points in the fourth end. Despite single steals for Hungary in both the ninth and tenth ends, the Scots shook hands with the score at 6-5 to earn their fourth win of the week.
About his campaign Brewster said: "Qualification? That's great, but ultimately we didn't come here just to do that, we came here to win medals and we're disappointed we're not in the play-offs."
With the round-robin concluded, Sweden face the Czech Republic in the Page 1-2 game, while Norway and Denmark are in the 3-4 game.
The winner of the 1-2 Page game proceeds directly to the final, while the loser goes to the semi-final to await the winner of the 3-4 game.
After that, the semi-final loser plays the loser of the Page 3-4 game for bronze, while the Page 1-2 winner and the semi-final winner play for gold and silver medals.
Hungary finished tenth and go back down to the B division, and are joined by ninth-placed Germany. Eighth-placed France will be challenged for the final European slot in this season's World Championship by this year's eventual B division winner.