China qualified for the gold medal game for the first time in their history while Russia and Slovakia will play in the sole semi-final following the 1v2 and 3v4 Page play-offs at the World Wheelchair Curling Championships 2015 at the Kisakallio Sports Institute in Lohja, Finland.
As well as the play-offs, Germany defeated Scotland in the relegation tie-breaker, which means that Scotland join Sweden and Norway in the World Wheelchair Curling Qualification event.
In the 1v2 Page play-off, China and Russia played out a nervy first half, with China stealing one point in the first end before Russia levelled in the next end.
It stayed that way until the seventh end when China skip HaiTao Wang made a hit to score two points for a 3-1 lead.
They then went on to run their opponents out of stones in the eighth to win 3-1, Russia’s first defeat of the Championships.
Not only is this the first time that China has qualified for a World Wheelchair Curling Championships gold medal game, it also guarantees they will, at a minimum, finish with at least the silver medals, the highest ever finish for China at this event.
Speaking after their win, China skip HaiTao Wang said: “We had a long discussion before this game about the tactics we would use, how we would play and how we should approach the game mentally. Of course, before the game we were very nervous, but as we got into the game we calmed down and I think that proved key today – staying calm and focused in every end. We got the win and we are all so happy to reach the gold medal game.”
Russia meanwhile move into the sole semi-final where they will get one more chance to reach the gold medal game as they face Slovakia, who won the 3v4 play-off.
In this game, Slovakia rued a missed chance to take two points in the first end when fourth player Branislav Jakubec made a takeout but rolled too far to only take one point.
Finland made a hit for one point in the next end before stealing single points in the next two ends after Slovakia’s Jakubec was heavy with his final draw shot in both ends.
Jakubec got lucky in the fifth end when he clipped a guard with his final draw attempt and rolled into a scoring position to score one point for Slovakia.
Finland had the chance to take five points in the sixth end but their skip, Markku Karjalainen, clipped a guard with his final stone to only take one point.
Slovakia took the lead again as Jakubec made a takeout with his final stone to score three points, to make the score 5-4 going into the eighth end.
Finland skip Markku Karjalainen had the chance to win the game in this end – all he had to do was draw into the house to score two points, but was heavy, giving Finland only one point which forced the extra end.
There, Slovakia prevailed as the Finnish skip hit a guard with his last stone, giving Slovakia one point for their 6-5 win to take them into the semi-final against Russia.
Like China, Slovakia also made history. This is the first time they have qualified for the semi-finals in what is only their third appearance at a World Wheelchair Curling Championships.
The sole semi-final will take place at 09:00 on Friday (13 February). The winner will progress to the gold medal game to play China while the loser will play Finland for the bronze medals – both games later on that day, at 14:00 (local time).
In the relegation tie-breaker, the first big scoring end came for Scotland as fourth player Gregor Ewan was left with an open draw into the house to score three points to take a 3-1 lead after three ends of play.
German skip Jens Jaeger then made a takeout to score one point in the fourth end. Thereafter, Germany stole their way to victory, stealing four points from the next three ends.
They went on to run Scotland out of stones in the eighth end to win 6-3, relegating Scotland to the World Wheelchair Curling Qualification event which will be held in the same venue in Lohja, Finland between 7-12 November 2015.
That event will qualify teams for the World Wheelchair Curling Championships 2016 in Lucerne, Switzerland in February.
Three teams were relegated because Switzerland are not taking part in this year’s World Championships but are automatically guaranteed one of the places in the 2016 Championships as host.
1v2: China 3, Russia 1
3v4: Finland 5, Slovakia 6.
Relegation tie-breaker: Scotland 3, Germany 6.
After Page play-offs and Relegation tie-breaker (W-L):
China 8-2 (To play winner of semi-final in gold medal game)
Russia 9-1 (To play Slovakia in semi-final)
Slovakia 6-4 (To play Russia in semi-final)
Finland 5-5 (To play loser of semi-final in bronze medal game)
5. USA 4-5
6. Canada 4-5
7. Germany 4-6
8. Scotland 3-7 (Relegated to WWhCQ*)
9. Sweden 3-6 (Relegated to WWhCQ*)
10. Norway 2-6 (Relegated to WWhCQ*)
*WWhCQ – World Wheelchair Curling Qualification event