Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2011 Men's Final

Team Norway - Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2011 - Men's Champions. Photo: Leslie Ingram-Brown

The men’s final of the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2011 in Moscow was between defending champions Norway, led by Olympic silver medallist Thomas Ulsrud and the 2009 champions Sweden, skipped by Niklas Edin.

These two teams had produced two tight encounters earlier in the week and this time round it was Norway who had the better start.

After Sweden took one point with last stone in the first end, Ulsrud took out two Swedish stones with his last in the second end to score two and take the early lead. Norway moved further ahead in the third end with a single steal when Sweden’s final draw was wide, but Edin did not repeat the mistake in the fourth when he scored one with an excellent double take-out, to close Norway’s lead to just one point.

Norway re-established their two-point advantage in the fifth, scoring one and then an umpire’s measure in the sixth gave them a single steal and a three-point lead, at 5-2. The last thing that Sweden were going to do at this stage was give up, and Edin produced a draw for two points in the seventh to close the deficit to just one point again.

A simple draw by Ulsrud in the eighth gave Norway one point for 6-4. In the ninth, a Swedish stone had jammed at the back when Norway tried to clear out the house early in the end, and having this stone still sitting there contributed to Edin’s score of two with a hit and stay, to level the game at 6-6.

Norway held the last stone advantage in the tenth end, and, while Edin tried all he could to steal the win, Ulsrud finally delivered a perfect draw that covered the button to score the one point needed for the Norwegians to retain the title.

After the game, Swedish skip Edin said, “we had a terrible start. We couldn’t really figure out the ice and we had some bad shots early on and that ruined it for us. We played well at the end of the game but it wasn’t enough to catch up. We had a good finish but we didn’t really manage to put our rocks in the right positions” adding, “it didn’t go our way this time. I want to try to make some better set-ups next time to make him work hard for the game”.

By contrast, Ulsrud was a happy man. “It feels perfect. The best thing is this is one of the best matches we’ve played all week, and to be able to do it in the final is good. We started really bad this week and we picked it up game by game and then we ended up playing the perfect game in the final - it’s good”.

Asked why he had managed to win this game after losing the previous two encounters between the teams, he said, “in the previous two games against Sweden, the whole team hadn’t played well, but this time we had everybody playing well, so it was perfect. It’s every skip’s dream – to draw the four foot to win the European Championships, it feels really good”.

He added, “this is really big for us, because we’ve had a really bad season so far, but this makes it a really big season.”

The Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2012 will take place in Karlstad, Sweden from 8-15 December.

GROUP A MEN: Final Standings

Results: http://results.worldcurling.org/Championship.aspx?id=435

1. Norway* (GOLD)
2. Sweden* (SILVER)
3. Denmark* (BRONZE)
4. Czech Republic*
5. Scotland*
6. Switzerland*
7. Germany*
8. France*
9. Latvia (relegated to ECC 2012 B Group)
10. Italy (relegated to ECC 2012 B Group)

*(Qualified for WMCC 2012 and ECC 2012 A Group)

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