Karlstad, Sweden - Sweden's Niklas Edin gave himself the perfect home-town start with two solid wins on Saturday's opening day of the Le Gruyere European Curling Championships 2012, in Karlstad.
In his opener he faced Switzerland’s Sven Michel and came out of the blocks flying, opening the scoring with a three in the second end and following that up with a score of two in the fourth. At the halftime break, the Swedes held a 5-2 lead. Edin then scored single points in the next two ends, and then Michel brought Switzerland right back into contention in the eighth, scoring two to close the gap to 7-4 in Sweden's favour. Sweden then blanked the ninth and, when the Swiss could only steal two in the tenth, Sweden had a 7-6 win.
Their evening game - against Hungary - was much more straightforward for the Swedes, as they scored four in the sixth end before going onto a seven-end 8-2 victory.
After this win, Swedish third Sebastian Kraupp, said: “It was great to get the two wins today. We felt it was really important to win against Switzerland, we had singled it out as a key match in this tournament because they are one of the teams who can definitely win a medal here. We didn’t have a super match against Hungary, but we did have a very good sixth end that determined the match in our favour”.
Defending champions Norway are going for a hat-trick of titles here, and they also had two wins on the opening day.
In the morning session they set themselves up with a score of three in the third end to beat Russia by 6-4 and they followed that up with a 9-6 win over Switzerland on Saturday evening, again scoring three in the third end on their way to victory. All of this happened with Norwegian skip Thomas Ulsrud suffering from a severe stomach bug that almost kept him off the ice. He explained, "I was really close to not playing this morning I was actually out between ends to throw up", but he was still good-natured enough to joke, "but I told the boys I didn't dare to leave them alone and had to watch over them".
Speaking about his possible hat-trick he said, "three in a row is a good goal for us. I think Hammy McMillan (Scotland) has won it three times in a row. That's a good record and maybe we could get it too".
Two other teams remain unbeaten in the men's event - Denmark and the Czech Republic.
Denmark opened with a 10-5 win over Germany and followed that up with an 8-6 victory over Russia.
Against Germany, the Danes scored a single in the first end and then stole three points in the second to establish a clear advantage over their opponents. A score of four in the sixth end for a 10-4 lead was enough to convince Germany to concede after the seventh, with the 10-5 final score.
After this win, Danish skip Rasmus Stjerne said, "we’ve had a pretty steady season so far, making the play-offs in every event we’ve played in and that is our aim here as well. We’ve won medals the last two times at this Championship - we know this competition is tough but our goal is to play one game at a time and hopefully reach the play-offs by the end of the week".
In the game against Russia, the Danes took control with a score of three in the fifth end and followed that up with a steal of two in the sixth on their way to their second win.
The Czech Republic had an opening 6-5 win over Scotland and then defeated France 8-4.
Against Scotland, the Czechs opened the scoring with a single in the second end. After this the teams swapped singles before the Scots made the initial break-through, scoring two in the fifth end for a 3-2 lead. However it turned into one-way traffic in the Czechs' favour after this. They scored a single to level at 3-3 in the sixth and then produced single steals in the next two ends to go 5-3 up. The Scots then managed to score two in the ninth to level at 5-5, but, in the tenth, Snitil played a solid hit and stay to score the one shot he needed for victory.
In their evening game against France, the Czechs were always in control, scoring twos in both the second and seventh ends to help their 8-4 win.
After the game against Scotland, Snitil said, " We're pleased...big time but it was a typical first game...we were missing shots you don't expect to miss".
Scotland did manage to recover from this loss by beating Germany 7-2 in just seven ends in the evening session. This win was as straightforward as the score-line suggests and eventually Scottish skip Tom Brewster produced a nice draw around and inside German stones in the house to score two for a 7-2 lead after eight end, at which point, the Germans shook hands.
France share the same won one, lost one record with Scotland. They beat Hungary - who are making their debut in the A group - by 8-3 in the morning session thanks largely to a run of four ends in the middle of the game when they assembled six points, including steals in three ends.
These results leave Germany, Hungary, Russia and Switzerland all still looking for their first win.