Karlstad, Sweden – The qualification and relegation positions are starting to become clear at the Le Gruyere European Championships in Karlstad, Sweden as the round-robin stage comes to a close.
After eight of the nine sessions in the men's event, top of the table Sweden, on seven wins, faced Scotland. With the medal games out of reach for them, Scotland's target now is to secure world championship qualification.
Against Sweden, skip, Tom Brewster, played a nice soft take-out in the sixth end to score three for a 5-2 lead. But Sweden fought back. In the ninth end, Swedish skip, Niklas Edin, tapped out a Scottish counter to score two and then moved on to win 7-6, leaving Scotland still with work to do if they want to make it to the World Championship.
After this game, Edin said: “We probably should have lost that game. So we have to be really happy about the win. We struggled out there, we really didn’t play well at all. We were lucky with the win and are looking forward to the next game."
Chasing Sweden are the Czech Republic, Norway and Denmark, in equal second place. The Czech Republic faced up to Russia this morning, with both teams still very much in the medal hunt.
Russian skip Andrey Drozdov played a nice draw for two points in the fifth end for a 4-2 lead, but Czech skip Jiri Snitil responded in the seventh end with a good double take-out to score three points and put their nose in front again. In the tenth end he kept his nerve to hit out a Russian stone for the two points needed for his 7-6 win. This result means that Russia cannot now reach the play-offs.
For Hungary, the game against Denmark was their last chance to avoid relegation back to the B division following their promotion last year. They fought hard, scoring three points in the second end, but gradually Denmark's superiority started to show.
In the seventh end, Denmark's Rasmus Stjerne scored three points for an 8-4 lead, and while the Hungarians scored singles in each of the next two ends, they eventually ran out of stones in the tenth end to lose 8-6. This result confirms Hungary will finish in tenth place and will be relegated, even before they play their last game against Scotland.
Norway faced a French team who knew nothing but a win would keep their chances of avoiding relegation to next year's B division alive. This game went to an extra end and, in front of a hushed arena, a nerveless French skip, Thomas Dufour, drew into the house to score the one point needed for a 6-5 win and keep French hopes hanging on.
Afterwards, Dufour said: "I was wishing my last stone would be at the right speed - I was nervous because I have been missing a couple of shots to win this week" adding, "that’s a hugely important win that is very important for French curling because there would be a lot of difficulties in French curling afterwards if we did not qualify. Our game against Germany tonight is a must-win game."
Germany, who faced Switzerland, are trying to avoid relegation to the B zone for the first time ever. In the sixth end, skip Andreas Lang had a draw for two points to bring his team to within one point of the Swiss. However, it was not enough as Swiss skip Sven Michel drew for two points in the ninth end on his way to a 7-5 win.
Afterwards, Swiss skip Sven Michel said: “So far so good. We had a really nervous game – we knew we had to get two wins today and I’m happy we've got one of them now."
The drop to the B division is now just one loss away for Germany, meaning that the Wednesday evening game between Germany and France has turned into winner-takes-all.