World Wheelchair Curling Championship 2019 debutants Estonia inflicted a shock defeat on Paralympic champions China on day three (5 March) in Stirling, Great Britain.
The two teams were level throughout most of the match before China edged ahead with a draw to give them two points and a 6-4 lead. Estonia held their nerve going into the eighth, taking three points to secure their first win of the competition.
China went on to suffer a second defeat in the evening session, falling to PyeongChang 2018 bronze medallists Canada. The 5-3 victory was Canada’s first of the championship.
“Hopefully we can get on a roll now,” said Canada’s skip Mark Ideson, a double Paralympic medallist. “Obviously, it’s not the way we wanted to start the tournament, but we’ve been close in a few games and just on the wrong side of the coin. It’s nice to pull one out tonight.”
Another shocking result
Hosts Scotland also had a good start to the third day’s competition by beating defending world champions Norway.
Norway had won their first three games of the championship, while Scotland struggled before securing their first victory on Monday evening. Clearly buoyed by that success, they produced a solid performance to beat Norway 7-4.
“We went into that game knowing that if we played the way we played some of the ends yesterday and kept consistent over eight ends, then we’d be in with a chance,” Scottish skip Aileen Neilson said. “We had a solid first four ends and our challenge has been to maintain that over eight ends – for once we managed to do that.”
Both Scotland and Norway picked up another win after lunch. Scotland got the better start against South Korea, earning six points in the first half. But South Korea piled on the pressure after the break to bring the match level.
However Neilson’s team did not lose their composure and picked up a point in the eighth end to take the match 7-6.
Norway won their second match of the day by beating the USA 8-5.
Switzerland in form
In the morning Switzerland survived a nail-biting clash with Slovakia, winning in the extra end after Slovakia fought back from 1-5 down after six ends. In the extra end it was the umpire’s measure which gave Switzerland the single point they needed.
The Swiss earned another win after defeating Canada 8-4, while Slovakia were too strong for Germany.
“This is a very good feeling for me, it’s my first time here, my first World Championships and to win four games out of five is great,” said Switzerland’s skip Raymond Pfyffer. “We played well, with good guards and good draws.”
Worlds debutants keep impressing
Estonia and Latvia also continued a solid run of matches in the evening session as they beat Germany and South Korea respectively, both with a 7-6 score.
The matches played out very differently, however. Estonia’s win came courtesy of two three-point ends in the second and fifth plus a one-point end in the third. That gave them enough of a buffer against Germany’s comeback in the second half of the match.
Latvia trailed South Korea 3-6 after six ends, but mounted a spectacular fight to level the match after the seventh end before winning it with one point in the final end.
2017 world silver medallists Russia* had a mixed day, beating Latvia in the morning but then falling to the USA in the evening.
For the first time in the week, the USA had the last stone advantage in the first end and used it to score two points for the early lead.
Russia levelled, but the USA scored two points in the fifth end, and forced a steal of three points in the sixth end to take a 7-2 lead. The three points scored by Russia in the last two ends were not enough and the USA won 7-5.
Norway and Switzerland now top the rankings, each with four wins and one loss. A further five teams are tied in third place with three wins and two losses, while Germany is the only nation not to have won a match in the round-robin stage of the competition.
*Editor's note: The International Paralympic Committee suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee on 7 August 2016 for its inability to fulfil its IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is also a signatory). As a result of the suspension, Russian athletes cannot enter IPC sanctioned events or competitions, including the Paralympic Games.