World Men's Curling Championship 2012 - Draw 9

Czech Republic battled hard against eventual winners Germany Photo: WCF/Richard Gray

With both teams concerned that they might not reach the weekend medal stages, Germany and the Czech Republic played out a tight game in Tuesday morning’s ninth session of round-robin play at the World Men’s Curling Championship in Basel, Switzerland.

There was never more than one point separating the teams and the game came down to the last stone of the last end, when Germany’s fourth player Felix Schulze kept his nerve to produce a precision raised double, leaving his own stone already in the house to count for the one point needed for his team’s 4-3 victory.

This was only Germany’s second win (they also have four losses) and skip John Jahr said: “That was a very important win - we needed it and we all played better. In the last couple of days we had too many bad draws and poor percentages, but today was better.”

Before they faced each other in the ninth session, Sweden were undefeated and USA had only one previous win. The form book went out the window in their match-up however, with Swedish skip Sebastian Kraupp having the type of game he will want to forget. In the third end his hit rolled on instead of staying and ended up outside three USA counters. Later, in the fourth end, his draw had too little weight and his stone wrecked on a front guard to gift USA a second successive steal of three points in a game that only lasted six ends, with USA running out as 10-1 winners.

Afterwards, USA skip Heath McCormick said: “We’ve had a very slow start so it’s good to be getting back. It felt like we were in huge trouble in the first and second ends, but somehow we got away with it. Then they were clearly struggling a little bit and had some misses.

“Obviously we’re on four losses and we can’t afford any more. It’s a cliché, but we’ll be taking it one game at a time and going from there.”

China chalked up their fourth successive win – a result that puts them into joint second place with Sweden – when they beat France by 8-2.

In the seventh end, China’s skip Rui Liu hit to score two points and take a 5-2 lead, and in the eighth end, French fourth player Tony Angiboust wrecked on the way in with his final stone to give China a steal of three points and the game, at 8-2. After the game China’s coach Hongchen Li said: “So far so good, the team are getting better each game. They are not worried about which team they are playing, they are just thinking about playing - they are feeling very confident now.”

Switzerland gave the home crowd something to cheer about in the fourth game of the session as they gave table-topping Canada their toughest test yet.

In the tenth end, Switzerland’s 20-year-old fourth player Benoit Schwarz– who wasn’t even born when his opposite number Glenn Howard won his first world championship title in 1987- shrugged off all the pressure to knock out two Canadian counters and keep his own stone in counting position to score one with less than 10 seconds left on the clock, tying the game at 6-6 and forcing an extra end.

In the extra, Howard used all his experience to eventually give himself a straightforward draw for one point – a 7-6 victory that keeps Canada’s unbeaten record – now on six wins – alive.

Howard apologised for his performance afterwards, saying: “That was my fault. I missed two or three shots that I shouldn’t have missed. I wasn’t sharp and those were bone-head shots. The best news is the guys made everything for me.”

Meanwhile, Swiss skip Jan Hauser said: “We’re playing pretty good and we were feeling really good. We had some luck but we were also a little bit unlucky. Whether we should have won it? ...the result shows what happened.”

This result leaves Switzerland on just one win and five losses, meaning that a play-off slot is probably beyond them and that they have to focus now on gaining crucial Olympic points by finishing as far up the rankings as possible. Speaking about that, Hauser said: “We had to win this game and now have to look forward to the future games (for Olympic points).”

Teams competing at the World Men’s Curling Championship 2012 will earn Olympic qualifying points for their nations. Based on cumulative points earned for their finishes at the 2012 and 2013 men’s championships, the top seven countries (host Russia receives an automatic entry), will compete at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

An additional two nations will have the chance to win their ticket to Sochi at a new World Curling Federation Olympic Qualifying Event to be held in December 2013. All nations having competed at the 2011, 2012 and 2013 World Championships would be eligible to compete in this event if they have not already secured their spot at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

RESULTS
Session 9: Czech Republic 3, Germany 4; Sweden 1, USA 10; China 8, France 2; Switzerland 6, Canada 7 (extra end).

Standings after 9 sessions:
Canada 6-0
China 5-1
Sweden 5-1
Scotland 4-1
Denmark 2-3
Norway 2-3
New Zealand 2-3
France 2-4
Germany 2-4
USA 2-4
Czech Republic 1-5
Switzerland 1-5

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