Karlstad, Sweden – The Le Gruyere European Curling Championships went into the knock-out phase on Thursday evening in Karlstad, Sweden, with the top four men's teams involved in the Page Play-off system.
In the top game between Sweden and the Czech Republic, who ranked one and two at the end of the round-robin, Sweden dominated. But the Czechs fought all the way. In the fourth end skip, Jiri Snitil, hit for one point to reduce the deficit to 1-3. However, in the fifth end, Swedish skip Niklas Edin scored one point and followed that up in the seventh end with a hit for five points that effectively ended the contest.
Sweden ran out as 9-3 winners and now move straight into Saturday's final, while the Czechs slip down to the sole semi-final to face Norway, who won the Page 3-4 game. The winners of the semi-final will come back up to the final and the losers will face Denmark for the bronze medal.
Afterwards, Sweden skip, Niklas Edin, said: “it feels really good. We’ve played really good in all the games. We’ve had a couple of bad games, but I think you need that throughout the tournament so you really focus harder at the end and I think we’re at the right place to play good in the final. When we got the five ender, the game was over.”
In the play-off between third-placed reigning champions Norway and fourth-placed Denmark, the teams were playing to keep their gold medal hopes alive, with the winners going to the semi-final and the loser destined for the bronze medal play-off.
Denmark skip, Rasmus Stjerne, scored two points in the seventh end to move into a 4-3 lead, but later Norway's Thomas Ulsrud had a simple draw for two points in the tenth end to win the game 6-5 and keep his title defence alive.
Norway have won this title in the past two years and, after the game Ulsrud said: "The hat-trick is still on. It didn't look like it yesterday after two losses, but it feels good to bounce back. I think we have a good chance against the Czech Republic if we play our best and I'd love a re-match against Niklas in the final if we are lucky enough to get there. I think we can beat him because it went down to the last stone in the last game and we had a bad performance."
Men’s Standings after Play-offs:
1.Sweden 9-1 (Progress to Gold medal game at 15:00 CET on
Sat, 15th Dec and qualify for Ford World Men’s Curling Championship (WMCC) 2013,
2. Norway 7-3 (will play in semi-final v Czech Republic at 13:00 CET on Fri, 14th Dec and qualify for WMCC 2013)
2. Czech Republic 7-3 (will play in semi-final v Norway at 13:00 CET on Fri, 14th Dec and qualify for WMCC 2013)
4. Denmark 6-4 (will play in bronze medal game at 20:00 on Fri, 14th Dec and qualify for WMCC 2013)
5. Russia 5-4 (qualify for WMCC 2013)
6. Switzerland 5-4 (qualify for WMCC 2013)
7. Scotland 4-5 (qualify for WMCC 2013)
8. France 3-6 (To play winner of B-Group in best of 3 games to qualify for WMCC 2013)
9. Germany 1-8 (relegated to ECC 2013 B Group)
10. Hungary 0-9 (relegated to ECC 2013 B Group)