World Men's Curling Championship 2012 - Draw 13

Canada were the first team to qualify for the play-offs Photo: WCF/Richard Gray

Canada became the first team to clinch a play-off slot at the World Men’s Curling Championship when they beat Sweden by 10-6 in Wednesday afternoon’s thirteenth session of round robin play in Basel, Switzerland.

In this game there were always lots of stones in play. The fifth end was no exception, when Swedish skip Niklas Edin had to draw for one point against five Canadian counting stones already in the house. In the seventh end, Canadian skip, Glenn Howard, hit for three points for an 8-4 lead on his way to a 10-6 victory.

Afterwards, Canadian skip Glenn Howard said: “That was a fun game – the Swedes came out to play to win, and we came out to play to win - lots of rocks in play. That’s eight wins and that’s where we want to be. We’re in the play-offs but we want to win every game we play, so we’re going to go hard and hopefully get into that one-two game.” Canada face second-placed Scotland next, and about that, Howard said, “We’re going to play Scotland like it’s a do-or-die game.”

Although neither the Czech Republic or France can make it to the knock-out stages now, they – like all the other teams this week – are also playing for Olympic qualifying points, so every game remains vital.

It was the Czechs who emerged happier, when skip Jiri Snitil tapped up one of his own stones to score three points in the tenth end for an 11-9 win. After the game, Snitil said: “We know how the French play, and they know how we play, so we were expecting to get and give up some numbers, but I’m happy with the result. We’ve had a tough tournament, and we try to re-group after every game. From the beginning, it’s been about Olympic points and maybe we tighten up a little bit when we play because of the points”.

The game between Switzerland and the USA was another where the focus was on Olympic points rather than medals. For this game, the Swiss reverted to their original line-up with Toni Mueller throwing last stones. And he put his stamp on the game from the start, playing an angled take-out in the first end to score two points, and then following that up with a draw for two points in the sixth end to level the game at 4-4, before the Swiss moved on to win by 7-5.

Afterwards, skip Jan Hauser said: “It’s amazing playing in front of the home crowd. People are coming here and cheering for us. Even when we lost our first four games, they came again I think most people in the arena were Swiss. It has been amazing”. He added, “I’m pretty proud of my team because we are not in an easy situation right now. That was a great game and a great comeback for Toni who was throwing last rocks.”

China are still in medal contention and they did their qualification chances no harm when they beat Germany by 7-6 in an extra end. This game was tight all the way, with Chinese skip Rui Liu hitting for one point in the seventh end to take a 4-3 lead. Eventually, in the extra end, Germany’s fourth player Felix Schulze was heavy with his last stone, which slipped through just too far to give China their win without having to play their final stone.

Chinese skip Liu said afterwards: “It was very hard to win this game but now we have the opportunity to get into the playoffs. If we lose it will be much more difficult but now we have a chance we are happy. I think we have done better than I thought we would.”

Session 13: Sweden 6, Canada 10; Czech Republic 11, France 9; Switzerland 7, USA 5; China 7, Germany 6.

Standings after 13 sessions:
1.Canada 8-0 (qualified for playoffs)
2. Scotland 6-2
3. China 6-3
4. Norway 5-3
4. New Zealand 5-3
6. Sweden 5-4
7. Denmark 4-4
8. France 3-5
9. Germany 2-6
9. USA 2-6
11. Czech Republic 2-7
11. Switzerland 2-7

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