Day 4 Review - Junior Men

Canada, led by Skip Brendan Bottcher, right, picked up two wins today Photo: WCF / Richard Gray

After Tuesday morning’s fifth session of men’s round-robin play at the World Junior Curling Championships, four teams were all sharing the lead at the top of the rankings on four wins and one loss.

Canada (who won 8-2 over Italy in just six ends); Norway (7-5 over China); Scotland (11-8 over USA in a free-flowing game that saw the Scots score a three and a four in separate ends, and the USA responding with two threes at different points); and Sweden (who lost 4-7 to Switzerland). However, that was all due to change after the sixth session, when Canada were due to face Sweden, and the Scots were up against Norway.

The Scotland – Norway evening game was an edgy affair that opened with three blank ends before, in the fourth, Scottish skip Kyle Smith had to draw for one to open the scoring. In the fifth, it was Norway’s turn to blank and then they levelled the score, taking a single point form the sixth. The Scots nosed ahead with a further single in the seventh for 2-1 but then, when Smith was light with a guard in front of a busy house, Norwegian skip Marcus Høiberg promoted one of his own stones, knocked out the only Scottish stone in the house and scored five. Scotland got a single back in the ninth and were then run out of stones in the tenth to give Norway a 6-3 win.

Afterwards, Høiberg said, “that’s another great win for us tonight. They’re a good team and I was really looking forward to this game all week, so it was good to beat them”. For his part, Scottish skip Smith simply said, “you can’t lose a five in the eighth end and expect to win the game”.

In the other table-top clash, Canada ran out 5-2 winners despite their unwell third player Evan Asmussen having to go off after six ends, to be replaced by alternate Parker Konschuh.

After the game, skip Brendan Bottcher was at pains to point out that Asmussen’s problem was not serious. “He’s fine” he said. “His stomach was a little bit upset and he had to sit down for a while, but we had Parker to come in and he played great”. More generally, Bottcher said, “I thought we played really well today, probably one of the highest yet, so it’s good we can get onto a roll going into the play-offs”.

The fifth game of the morning session was a basement battle in which the Czech Republic carved out their first win of the week, beating Finland, who were also win-less by 7-6 after an extra end.

The first half of this game was even, and the half-time score was 2-2, but the Czechs made their breakthrough in the sixth, scoring four for a 6-2 lead. After this the Finns fought back and finally levelled the game in the tenth when, with stones from each team sitting together on top of the button, the Czech skip Lukas Klima threw his last stone through the house thinking he already held the shot to give him the victory, only for the Chief Umpire to decree that the Finns held shot, a decision that forced an extra end. This time round, the Czechs made no mistake and scored the one for their win.

Afterwards, Klima explained, “I think we were strong during this game and after the break we scored four to put ourselves in a strong position. During the tenth we made a huge mistake – we were sitting two and playing a double take-out, we hit our own stones and they spread out and left a lot of yellows in there! But finally, everyone on the sheet, even the guys from Finland, were sure that our stone was better, I threw my last stone out. The Umpires came to look at it, they said ‘the red one is better, but we will go with the Chief Umpire’. The Chief Umpire came and said ‘yellow’ so we had to play an extra end. Still, - we won, so we are happy.”

However, the Czechs could not sustain their performance into the evening session, where they went down by 3-8 to China. Meanwhile, Finland continued to struggle in the evening, this time going down by 3-7 to USA.

The Americans are now in a four-way tie for second place with Scotland, Sweden and Switzerland, who beat Italy by 8-3 in their evening game.

After their win, USA second Tom Howell said, “it was a comfortable win for us tonight, it helped give us our confidence back. We forgot about the game this morning against Scotland. We have a lot of tough teams still to play so we have to keep moving”. More generally, he added, “all in all, it’s been a great experience so far. The venue is awesome. I have a couple of years left in me so I would love to come back - this is a stepping stone to my future in the sport”.

Switzerland’s victory over Italy gave them two wins on the day, and put them right back into Play-off contention. After this game, Swiss skip Dominik Marki said, “that was very important for us. Now we are on the right way for the play-offs. We knew if we played good we would beat them and that’s exactly what we did. Tomorrow is a very important day for us. We play Scotland, so it will be a tough game for both teams. But now we are on the right track and have a lot of confidence”.

Round 5: Sweden 4, Switzerland 7; Scotland 11, USA 8; Italy 2, Canada 8; Czech Republic 7, Finland 6 (extra end); China 5, Norway 7.
Round 6: Scotland 3, Norway 6; Switzerland 8, Italy 3; China 8, Czech Republic 3; Canada 5, Sweden 2; Finland 3, USA 7.

Junior Men’s Standings
Canada 5-1
Norway 5-1
Scotland 4-2
Sweden 4-2
Switzerland 4-2
USA 4-2
China 2-4
Czech Republic 1-5
Italy 1-5
Finland 0-6
*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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