Day 3 Review - Junior Men

Sweden's junior men remain the only unbeaten team Photo: WCF / Richard Gray

After four sessions of round-robin play, Sweden stand alone, unbeaten, at the top of the rankings in the men’s section of the World Junior Curling Championships, thanks to their 8-4 win over China on Monday afternoon.

China did not really have any answer to the Swedes, who scored two in the second end and followed that up with threes in both the fourth and sixth ends on their way to victory.

Beside them Scotland’s Kyle Smith handed Canada’s Brendan Bottcher his first loss of the week, with a solid 8-4 win. Smith opened the scoring in the second end with a draw for one when he was facing three Canadian counters and then Canada drew for a single in the third end. When the Scots got themselves in a bit of trouble in the fourth, Smith decided on damage limitation and drew for second shot to give up a steal of one, rather than risk anything further.

Scotland moved further ahead with a single in the fifth end and, in the sixth, Canada came up light and Scotland stole three. When Scotland eventually scored a further two in the ninth, Canada immediately conceded.

After the game, Smith said, “we’ve played well in the last few games, and things just started to go well in that game. We’re throwing them really well this week, we’ve got a good grip of the ice, and the sweepers are making a fantastic job”, while Bottcher said, “we didn’t really have a good handle of the ice today and we weren’t too precise with our draw shots. Scotland were great, they made a few misses early on but after that they were making everything”.

Norway continued their recovery from a bad opening day with a 9-3 win over Italy in just seven ends. In this game, the Italians tried to shake things up by changing their order, with normal third player Amos Mosaner skipping and regular skip Andrea Pilzer playing at third. However, Norway opened strongly with a score of three in the first end, and never really let the Italians get into the game after that. Every time they had the hammer, they scored twos, while Italy could do no better than singles.

After the game Norway skip Markus Høiberg recognised the improvements his team had made. “We’re really getting better, improving a lot since our first game. We’re figuring everything out so it looks better now. I think the key to winning today was that we’ve started to play a lot of harder take-outs, not so soft anymore, and a little bit more controlled. We just tried to keep it open and get the points we could”.

USA is another team that seem to be improving as the week goes on. They beat the Czech Republic by 10-3 to keep their medal hopes alive, scoring a two in the first end, then a three in the third, and topping off their performance with four points in the seventh and a single steal in the eighth. Speaking about their improvements, skip Stephen Dropkin said, “absolutely. We’re usually better later in the week, we just build up steadily. The other skip was unlucky with a couple of shots, but as my coach Sandra McMakin tells us, we play for two and the threes and sometimes fours just happen. We got lucky and had a few breaks. We’re doing it little by little”.

In the fifth game of the session, Switzerland beat Finland by 8-6 and this means that the Czech Republic and Finland remain the only two teams in the men’s section not yet to record a victory. They face each other in the next men’s round-robin session in a game that looks like having a strong influence on which European team will be relegated to next year’s European Junior Curling Challenge.

In this game, Finland’s Iiro Sipola could not recover from conceding four points in the fifth end. Afterwards, Swiss skip Dominik Märki said, “we always felt in control during the game. At the third end we made two and in the fifth end we were a bit lucky and we got four. But in the seventh end I played two very bad stones and they came back into it. For the next game, we need to improve upon our precision and also work on our takeout speed. In our games so far sometimes they have been too fast and sometimes too slow.”

Round 4: Canada 4, Scotland 8; Sweden 8, China 4; Finland 6, Switzerland 8; Norway 9, Italy 3; USA 10, Czech Republic 3.

Junior Men’s Standings
Sweden 4-0
Canada 3-1
Norway 3-1
Scotland 3-1
USA 3-1
Switzerland 2-2
China 1-3
Italy 1-3
Czech Republic 0-4
Finland 0-4
*During the round robin teams with the same W-L record will be ranked alphabetically.

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The World Junior Curling Championships 2013 will take place in Sochi, Russia, from 28 February-10 March.

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