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Sochi 2014

USA's ice sledge hockey team

USA's ice sledge hockey team

What to watch: Day 6 at Sochi 2014

The sixth day of action includes Sonja Gaudet, Rolf Pedersen and Greg Westlake.

Greg Westlake Forward Greg Westlake helped Canada go 3-0 in the preliminary round to finish first in Group A at Sochi 2014. © • Getty Image
By IPC

The ice sledge hockey semi-finals are expected to draw large crowds on Day 6 at Sochi 2014.

Morning

Canada head into the final day of the wheelchair curling round robin sessions with a 6-1 record and are the two-time defending Paralympic champions in the sport led by Sonja Gaudet. Slovakia, with a 4-3 mark, sit in a tie for third place and will play Canada at 9:30 (MSK) as they try to make a push for a spot in the semi-finals.

Afternoon

The first ice sledge hockey semi-final will take place at 13:00 (MSK) at Shayba Arena, as Norway take on host nation Russia. Led by defenceman Rolf Pedersen, Norway have medalled in sledge hockey at ever Paralympic Winter Games, including a bronze-medal finish at Vancouver 2010. Although Russia are making their Paralympic debut in the sport, they have already proven their toughness by finishing first in Group B in the preliminary round and knocking off defending Paralympic champions USA.

Evening

The Canada-USA semi-final match at 20:00 (MSK) is expected to steal the headlines, with the top two ranked teams and rivals battling it out for a place in the gold-medal game. Canada, led by forwards Greg Westlake and Brad Bowden, and the reigning world champions, while the USA, anchored by goaltender Steve Cash and forward Josh Pauls, are the defending Paralympic champions.

The men’s slalom will come to a conclusion in the evening hours across all three classes, with Slovakia’s Jakub Krako, France’s Vincent Gauthier-Manuel and Japan’s Taiki Morii all in action.

Italy, Czech Republic advance to fifth-place game

Italy defeated Sweden and the Czech Republic beat South Korea in ice sledge hockey on Day 5 in Sochi.

Italy's ice sledge hockey team Italy's ice sledge hockey team celebrates a win over Sweden to advance to the fifth-place game at Sochi 2014. © • Getty Images
By Ryan McKenna | For the IPC

The win put Italy in the fifth-place game in Sochi, where they will now face the Czech Republic on Friday (14 March).

Swedish goaltender Ulf Nilsson made save after save, 31 in total, on Wednesday (12 March) at Shayba Arena, but Italy’s offence was too powerful, storming back from two goals behind to win 3-2 in overtime in ice sledge hockey classification action at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

The win put Italy in the fifth-place game in Sochi, where they will now face the Czech Republic on Friday (14 March).

Italy came out firing in the contest, launching eight shots on Nilsson in the first period. Sweden caught a break just before the period ended when Per Kasperi scored his second goal of Sochi 2014 on Sweden’s first shot of the game to give Sweden the 1-0 advantage at the first intermission.

The second period would be a bit more even, with both teams exchanging good chances. At the 9:00 mark, Kasperi would streak in again to score a power-play goal and his second of the game to put Sweden up 2-0.

"In the last days I can't believe our bad luck,” Italian defenceman Gianluigi Rosa said. “Sometimes something happens, but this time the first two periods were just unlucky.”

Italy made a goaltending change at the start of the third period, putting Gabriele Araudo into the net and that seemed to spark the Italians.

Italy dominated the period, finally getting on the board three minutes in, getting a lucky bounce that would leave Rosa an open net and cut the Swedish lead to one.

Italian head coach Massimo Da Rin woud call a timeout with less than three minutes remaining and his players would answer. A little more than 30 seconds later, Greg Leperdi slid one past Nilsson and it would be a tie game.

In the overtime period, Italy kept up the momentum and finally after a scramble in front of the net, Gianluca Cavaliere would score to give Sweden the victory.

"The most important thing for the team today was belief, to play with belief, with heart, be tough,” da Rin said. “The first thing is not to panic, don't be nervous, play normally."

The Czech Republic were also successful in qualifying for the fifth-place game with a 2-0 victory over South Korea in the other classification game.

In a tight battle with both teams creating a lot of chances, it was South Korea who had the advantage after one period. They outshot the Czech Republic 7-1, but Michal Vapenka was not fazed and kept it scoreless.

Despite being outshot again in the second period, a snap shot from the blue line by Jiri Berger got past some bodies in front and got past South Korean goaltender Man-Gyun Yu at the 18:27 mark.

Even after 16 penalty minutes combined between the two teams in the period, the score would remain 1-0 after 30 minutes.

Tomas Kvoch got the Czech Republic fans back on their feet 10 minutes into the third period when his shot from the blue line went in to make it 2-0.

The Czech Republic would hold on for the victory with Vapenka making 19 saves and recording his first shutout of Sochi 2014.

The Czech Republic will now play Italy for fifth place on Friday at 20:00 (MSK) while Sweden and South Korea will face off at 13:00 (MSK) in the seventh-place game.

Italy's ice sledge hockey team

Italy's ice sledge hockey team

Jakub Krako, Adam Hall look to defend slalom titles

The men’s slalom races will feature across all three classes on Day 6 at Sochi 2014.

Jakub Krako Slovakia's Jakub Krako competes in the men's super-G visually impaired at Sochi 2014. © • Getty Images
By Justin A. Rice | For the IPC

To defend his slalom title Jakub Krako, will have to fend off Ivan Frantsev of Russia, who won the event at the 2013 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships.

Slovakia’s Jakub Krako and New Zealand’s Adam Hall hope to defend their titles in the men’s slalom visually impaired and standing classes, respectively, on Thursday (13 March) at 15:00 (MSK) at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Centre at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

Krako, who put an end to his recent medal drought by winning the men’s super-G visually impaired class in 1:20.58 in Sochi, has every intention of winning more medals before the week is over with his guide Martin Motyka.

"I was second in Vancouver (in super-G) now I am first,” said Krako, who also won gold in the giant slalom, super-combined and slalom at the Vancouver 2010 Games. “This is one of the best races of my life and one of the happiest days of my life.

"It wasn't easy to get this gold. There were difficult turns and gates. Every day of the last four years I've worked hard to get this medal. I'm proud of myself. I'm going to have a rest, but here in Sochi I'm going to get more medals."

To defend his slalom title Krako, will have to fend off Ivan Frantsev of Russia, who won the event at the 2013 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships. So far in Sochi, Frantsev’s best result is a respectable fifth-place finish in super-G.

Spain’s Jon Santacana Maiztegui, the USA’s Mark Bathum and Canada’s Chris Williamson will also feature in the event.

Hall, who will be looking to redeem himself after he failed to finish the super-G, is no stranger to bouncing back. During the final of the standing slalom in Vancouver, he fell on to his side after making a gate but managed to recover to win gold.

Hall also carried the flag for New Zealand at the Opening Ceremony.,

"I'll walk out there with great pride and swing that flag with the best of my ability,” he said before the Ceremony, “and with great pride and courage and determination to represent our country.”

Hall will be challenged by France’s Vincent Gauthier-Manuel, who will be itching to get back on the podium after he was third in the downhill and fourth in the super-G. Austria’s Matthias Lanzinger, Australia’s Mitch Gourley and Switzerland’s Michael Bruegger also have the potential to podium.

In the men’s slalom sitting, Canadian Josh Dueck is looking to upgrade the silver he won in the event in Vancouver to gold in Sochi. He opened his games with an emotional win on Saturday, taking the silver in downhill on the 10th anniversary of the day he lost the use of his legs. The 33-year-old former freestyle skier was working as a coach in British Columbia in 2004 when he overshot the landing while demonstrating a front flip and fell 30m. The fall broke his neck and spine, severing his spinal cord. When he regained consciousness, Dueck couldn't feel his legs.

"Ten years ago today I broke my back and it's a very powerful moment of time," said Dueck, who in 2013 became the first person to perform a backflip in a wheelchair. "Moving forward in life is very important and I'm proud of that."

He will be challenged by Japan’s Akira Kano, who has won the downhill and super-G so far in Sochi, and Kano’s teammate, Taiki Morii, who took slalom silver at the 2013 World Championships.

Jakub Krako

Jakub Krako

Canada, Russia qualify for wheelchair curling semi-finals

There is just one more day of round-robin wheelchair curling action at Sochi 2014 before the final four teams are decided.

Mark Ideson Canada's Mark Ideson competes in the round-robin session against Korea on Day 5 of Sochi 2014. © • Getty Images
By World Curling

The final day of round-robin play begins at 9:30 (MSK) on Thursday (13 March) followed by another session at 15:30 (MSK).

Canada and Russia became the first two teams to qualify for the semi-finals of the wheelchair curling competition at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

Russia created history by defeating Great Britain to qualify for the semi-finals for the first time. This comes shortly after making their Paralympic Winter Games debut earlier this week.

For Canada, their win against South Korea means that they still have the opportunity to defend their Paralympic golds from Vancouver 2010 and Torino 2006.

Russia started well against Great Britain and after blanking the first end found themselves 4-1 up by the fourth end break.

They remained in control throughout this game and took a crucial step towards their victory in the fifth end when their skip, Andrey Smirnov, made a take-out to score two points and gain a 6-1 lead.

The hosts then went on to wrap up the game with a score of five points in the seventh end, which forced Great Britain to concede the game with the final score 11-2.

This took Russia’s record to six wins and one loss which mathematically qualified them for the semi-finals.

Afterwards, Russia skip Andrey Smirnov said: “All of the games are critical today and they all decide who gets into the play-offs. So it was very serious. We are very lucky and very grateful that it turned out that way."

Canada joined them in the semi-final line-up as they defeated South Korea, also in seven ends, 10-4.

Knowing they have now qualified along with Russia, Canada skip Jim Armstrong said: “We are tied with them in winning the same amount of games, but we've played Russia before and beaten them - so let's see what happens.”

The USA, meanwhile, picked up a second consecutive win, this time against China to keep their semi-final qualification hopes alive.

The USA raced into a 4-0 lead by the fourth end break and although China took two points in the fifth end that was the only end they would score in.

The USA rounded out the game with a score of two points in the sixth end and stole four points in the seventh end at which point China conceded with the final score 10-2.

The fourth and final game of the morning session was between Norway and Slovakia with both teams still focused on reaching the semi-finals. Slovakia won 11-4 to move to a 4-3 record in the tournament.

In the afternoon, Russia kept up their fine form in front of a packed home support as they picked up a last end, last stone victory over Norway, winning 6-5.

The USA picked up their second win of the day, as they defeated Vancouver 2010 bronze medallists Sweden, 8-3.

The only other game in the afternoon session was between China and Finland, with China taking the 8-2 victory.

The four top ranked teams after the round-robin, and tie-breakers if required, will qualify for the semi-finals.

The team ranked first will play the team ranked fourth, while the team ranked second will play third. Both semi-final winners will go into the gold medal game while the losers will play for the bronze medals.

Both the semi-finals and the medal games will be played on Saturday (15 March).

The final day of round-robin play begins at 9:30 (MSK) on Thursday (13 March) followed by another session at 15:30 (MSK).

Standings

1. Russia 7-1 (Qualified for semi-finals)

2. Canada 6-1 (Qualified for semi-finals)

3. Great Britain 4-3

3. Slovakia 4-3

5. China 4-4

5. USA 4-4

7. Norway 3-5

8. Korea 2-5

8. Sweden 2-5

10. Finland 1-6

Mark Ideson

Mark Ideson

Women’s slalom sitting Medal Ceremony postponed

Final results to be confirmed on Thursday (13 March).

A picture of the venue with the ski tracks Rosa Khutor Alpine Centre has a capacity to host 7,500 spectators for the Sochi 2014 Paralympics. © • Flickr-Yahoo
By IPC

All other Medal Ceremonies scheduled to take place on Wednesday will go ahead as planned.

The Medal Ceremony for the women’s slalom sitting which took place on Wednesday (12 March) has been postponed due to an appeal on the disqualification of Germany’s Anna Schaffelhuber.

The German National Paralympic Committee lodged a protest after 22-year-old Schaffelhuber was disqualified during the first run. The reigning world champion was allowed to complete a second run under protest and has recorded a time.

The appeal is being heard on Thursday (13 March) morning and if successful, the results of Schaffelhuber’s second run will be revealed and the final results confirmed.

All other Medal Ceremonies scheduled to take place on Wednesday will go ahead as planned.

Sochi 2014: Men’s slalom brought forward by one hour

First runs will take place at 3pm (MSK) on Thursday 13 March.

Vincent Gauthier-Manuel France's Vincent Gauthier-Manuel comopetes in the men's super-G standing on Day 2 of Sochi 2014. © • Getty Images
By IPC

The start time will now be 3pm (MSK) but the second runs will still begin at the scheduled time of 7pm in what is set to be an exciting evening of skiing at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Centre.

The first races in men’s slalom competition at Sochi 2014 on 13 March have been bought forward by one hour, to accommodate a large field of competing athletes.

The start time will now be 3pm (MSK), but the second runs will still begin at the scheduled time of 7pm in what is set to be an exciting evening of skiing at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Centre.

Reigning French world champion Vincent Gauthier-Manuel will be heading out in the standing event as well as Slovakia's Paralympic champion Jakub Krako and guide Martin Motyka in the visually impaired.

Russia currently lead the overall medal Sochi 2014 medal standings with 16 golds, followed by Germany with six and Ukraine with three.