Day 1 Review

Slovakian Skip, Radoslav Duris and his team remain unbeaten Photo: KOSAD / Young Bok Kim

Slovakia created the surprise of the opening day of play at the 2012 World Wheelchair Curling Championship in Chuncheon, South Korea, by winning their two opening games at what is their first world championship appearance.

Skip Radoslav Duris was lost for words after beating 2011 bronze medallists Norway 9-8 in the morning session.

“It was a very hard match,” said Duris. “They [Norway] are one of the best teams here. In the end, we won by only one stone.” The Slovaks then went on to beat Italy 10-1 in the afternoon session.

There were wins too for the Russian team. Skip Andrey Smirnov led his side to 9-3 win over Sweden in the morning.

“It was the first game, I think all teams were a bit nervous, including us,” said Anton Batugin one of the Russian team coaches afterwards. “In the sixth end we were lucky, we had a chance to take five and it was the most important end in the game. We were just more lucky than the Swedish team that is all.”

Russia’s run of luck continued as they went on to beat China 4-1

The USA is the only other team to emerge from the first day unbeaten. With Patrick McDonald now skipping after being the alternate on the USA’s Vancouver 2010 Paralympic team and at the World Championships in 2009.

McDonald and teammates first overcame hosts Korea 7-6. In their afternoon game, Sweden needed one point to tie the game up in the eighth end and force an extra end, but Swedish Skip Jalle Jungnell’s hit rolled out and handed the American’s a 4-3 win.

Canada, China, Scotland and Korea ended the first day with one win and one loss. Canada, with Daryl Neighbour now skipping following the return of Jim Armstrong to Canada for personal reasons, won their opening game 7-4 against Italy. But in their game against Korea, Canada struggled to get on the scoreboard, with Hak Sung Kim and his team stealing four points before the Canadians took their only point of the match. Korea won 7-1.

After the game, Kim, who competed at the 2009 World Championship and took Silver in Vancouver, commented “all the players here have improved a lot since the last time I competed against them. The competition is tougher. We have to remain focused if we don’t want to lose.”

China won their opening game against 2011 silver medalists Scotland 6-5. Reflecting on the game, Aileen Neilson, the only female skip in the field, said “we need to give the Chinese their due – they played well, didn’t miss too much. We managed to steal in the first end so managed to set it up well. My last stone came in too deep, he [Chinese Skip Haitao Wang] still had to play the shot but made it to win.”

Neilson faced another tight game in the afternoon against Norway. It went all the way to an extra end with Norwegian Skip Rune Lorentsen coming up short with his final draw and Scotland stole two for an 8-6 win.

The ten teams are competing in a round robin which runs from Sunday 19th to Thursday 23rd February. Semifinals take place on Friday 24th with the Bronze and Gold medal games scheduled for 10:00 and 14:00 local time (KST – Korean Standard Time) on Saturday 25th.

Wheelchair curling is similar in many ways to its able-bodied parent game, except that no sweeping takes place, and each game consists of eight instead of ten ends.

Further qualification points for the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia will be awarded at the end of this year’s world championship. For more information visit: http://www.worldcurling.org/curling-at-the-paralympics

Results, news and photos from the World Wheelchair Curling Championship 2012 can be seen here on the event website: http://www.wwhcc2012.worldcurling.net

World Curling Federation Wheelchair Curling Events Facebook: Go hit ‘like’ to keep updated:
http://www.facebook.com/WorldWheelchairCurlingChampionships

In 2013, the World Wheelchair Curling Championship will take place in Sochi, Russia from 16-23 February.

Standings:
Russia 2-0
Slovakia 2-0
USA 2-0
Canada 1-1
China 1-1
Scotland 1-1
Korea 1-1
Italy 0-2
Norway 0-2
Sweden 0-2

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