Finland, Norway, Latvia, Italy move on

The top four teams at the World Wheelchair Curling Qualification event have advanced to the playoff round. 08 Nov 2012
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Norway will play the host country of the World Wheelchair Curling Qualification, Finland, during its playoff game.

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“We thought Norway would be the favourites here this week, but it looks like Italy and Finland have done best so far.”

Finland will play Norway and Latvia will play Italy in the two playoff games following the final day of round-robin play at the World Wheelchair Curling Qualification event in Lohja, Finland.

On Wednesday (7 November), Finland beat Italy, 8-7, in the morning session after an extremely close game. With the lead constantly changing throughout , Finland stole 2 points in the sixth end which helped them on their way, but needed an extra end to seal the victory.

Following the game, Finnish skip Vesa Hellman was delighted to reach the playoffs.

“We thought Norway would be the favourites here this week, but it looks like Italy and Finland have done best so far,” he told World Curling.

“Now, we will finish at worst second position but we feel very good about this because we have achieved our goal of getting into the playoffs. This gives us two chances of qualification – if we don’t win the first we will get another opportunity.”

In the afternoon, Finland sealed first position in the standings after defeating Japan, 7-2.

With Norway, Latvia and Italy all finishing round-robin play with a record of 7-3, their final positions were determined by their draw shot challenge average as all three tied teams had one win against another one of the tied teams.

The final standings mean that Finland will now face Norway, which won its final game of round-robin play against Italy, 8-4.

After a slow start to the week, Norwegian skip Rune Lorentsen was pleased his team’s form continued to improve game by game.

“It feels incredible to win that last game,” Lorentsen told World Curling.

“We have struggled the whole tournament – against Latvia we beat them 11-1 two weeks ago in another event and lost to them this week. But now we, and our girl (Sissel Loechen) especially, have played very well in the last two matches, which is very helpful. We are still a little up and down - we have had two bad games in the front end of the round-robin, but I feel that we are on our way. It will be 50-50 in our game against Finland I think, but we have two chances for qualifying now, so that’s ok.”

Latvia also continued their recent form, first beating Japan 10-8 in the morning and then Turkey 10-2 in the afternoon.

Afterwards, Latvian coach Artis Zentelis acknowledged the progress the team have made over the last three years.

“This is our third World Championship Qualification tournament – the first we lost all our games, the second we won a few games but still finished near the bottom, but this year has been good for us,” he said.

“We’ve had a lot of practice, perhaps three to four times per week, so there’s a professional attitude to the game and it looks like we are seeing the results.”

The playoff games will be played at 10:30 local time (EET) on Thursday, with the winner of Finland-Norway automatically qualifying for February’s World Wheelchair Curling Championships. The loser will play the winner of the Latvia-Italy game to decide the final qualification spot.

Final round-robin standings

1. Finland 9-1

2. Norway 7-3

3. Latvia 7-3

4. Italy 7-3

5. Czech Republic 6-4

6. Germany 6-4

7. Switzerland 5-5

8. Japan 4-6

9. Denmark 2-8

10. Turkey 1-9

11. Poland 1-9

Results and live webcasting will be provided on the Finnish Curling Association website here.

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