Day 6 Review: Korea & Russia to play for Gold

Korea will play Russia in the final of the World Wheelchair Curling Championship 2012 Photo: KOSAD / Young Bok Kim

Hosts Korea have made it to the final of the World Wheelchair Curling Championship in Chuncheon and will play Russia for the 2012 title. China and Slovakia will compete in the bronze medal game.

Under the World Curling Championship Page Playoff system, both Korea and Russia met in the 1v2 playoff on Friday morning having finished top and second in the round robin.

It was a tight game which went down to a measure. Russia went into the eighth end 4-3 up but without the hammer/last stone advantage. When Russian Skip Andrey Smirnov was wide with an attempted take-out, Korea was lying one stone on the back of the 12 foot rings. Skip Hak Sung Kim had a chance to draw to anywhere in the house to take two points and win the game there and then, but his draw was short. The score was tied 4-4 and the game went to an extra end.

In the extra end, Kim attempted a double run back for Korea’s last shot. It was slightly off-angle and sent their own stone to the outside of the 12 foot. This time it was Russian Skip Smirnov who was heavy with his last draw, leaving the Korean stone to be measured and confirmed as a ‘biter’ for a 5-4 win.

“The team were really tense beforehand. I gave them some directions before the game but it didn’t go well, that’s why the game was so close and so difficult. The last shot was really crucial and it went really well for us,” said Kim.

Korea advanced straight to Saturday’s final scheduled for 14:00 local time (KST) with the Russian’s being left to face the winner of the 3v4 playoff in the semifinal which gave them another chance to make the final.

The 3v4 playoff was more one-sided, with the Chinese team 7-1 up on their Slovak opponents by the fourth end break. In the fourth end, a failed attempt by Slovak Skip Radoslav Duris for a freeze meant China could take 4 points. Skip Haitao Wang and his team were on the defensive in the second half of the game. The Slovaks only managed to take a single point before being run out stones in the eighth end for 7-2 finish.

And so it was Russia and China who met in the Semifinal which proved to be another defensive game, with few stones in play. Russia went into the eighth end 3-1 up, but without hammer. China were looking for two points to tie the game up and force an extra end but there was not enough weight behind Skip Wang’s last shot to get the two stones he needed into the house to count. The final score was 3-2.

“Today, we were thinking too much about the impact of the outcome of our games. We really wanted to win. I don’t feel too good as we didn’t take advantage of the opportunities we had. With my last stone, I didn’t give it enough weight,” lamented Wang.

China will play Slovakia in the Bronze medal game at 10:00 local time (KST)

For Russia, the Semifinal win means they are now assured of their best ever finish at a World Wheelchair Curling Championship.

“We were in a good mood before this game,” said Russian Skip Andrey Smirnov. “We played China many times before and we beat them. We knew what their tactics would be, so we were relaxed and assured which gave us confidence and helped us perform well in this game. I’m really happy we will now win a medal, I’m just not sure what kind it will be!”

Standings after Playoffs & Semifinal
Korea 8-2 (will play Final/Gold Medal Game)
Russia 8-3 (will play Final/Gold Medal Game)
China 8-3 (will play Bronze Medal Game)
Slovakia 7-4 (will play Bronze Medal Game)
5. USA 6-4
6. Sweden 3-6*
7. Canada 3-6*
8. Scotland 3-6*
9. Norway 2-7
10. Italy 1-8
* teams are ranked according to their win-loss record against each other at the event.

About the Skips:

Korean Skip Hak Sung Kim first skipped a Korean team at the World Championships in 2004 in Sursee Switzerland. His best World Championship performance to date has been his silver medal finish in 2008, once again in Sursee. He followed that with a Silver medal in Vancouver at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. While Korea competed at last year’s world championship in Prague, it was not Kim’s team that represented their country. Kim who celebrated his 44th birthday at the championships on Thursday is from Wonju.

Russian Skip Andrey Smirnov has been part of the Russian Wheelchair curling team since 2004. The 38 year old from Yekaterinburg began to skip in 2005. His highest place finish to date has been fourth at the World Championships in Prague last year losing the bronze medal game to Norway.

21 year old Chinese Skip Haitao Wang and his team started competing at international level in 2008 – winning the World Wheelchair Curling Qualification event to get to the 2009 World Championships in Vancouver where they finished 8th. With not enough points make it to the Paralympics in Vancouver in 2010, they had to qualify for the World Championships again. Wang, who comes from near Harbin in China’s Heilongjiang Province, and his team won the qualifier in November 2010 to get to Prague for the World Championships in 2011 where they finished 5th.

For Slovak Skip Radoslav Duris and his team, this is their first World Championship appearance. His team won the qualifier event in Finland last November. Curling was introduced in Slovakia ten years ago, with wheelchair curling beginning in 2007. 37 year old Duris comes from Dubnica.

Korea, Russia, China, Slovakia, USA, Sweden, Canada and Scotland have all secured a place at the 2013 World Wheelchair Curling Championship which will take place in Sochi, Russia from 16-23 February.

Norway and Italy are relegated to the World Wheelchair Curling Qualification event which will be staged at the Kisakallio Sports Institute in Lohja, Finland from 27 October to 3 November 2012. The top two teams at this event will gain entry to the 2013 World Championship in Sochi.

Under the Page Playoff system used at World Curling Championships:
- the winner of the 1v2 playoff goes straight to the final/gold medal game
- the loser of the 1v2 playoff meets the winner of the 3v4 playoff in the semifinal
- the winner of the semifinal goes to the final/gold medal game
- the loser of the semifinal plays the bronze medal game against the loser of the 3v4 playoff.

Video coverage of certain games is now available on a delayed basis on the event website. See more here: http://www.wwhcc2012.worldcurling.net/video

The event sees ten of the top wheelchair curling teams in the world competing in a round robin which runs from Sunday 19th to Thursday 23rd February. Playoffs and 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.

The 2012 World Wheelchair Curling Qualification event will now take place at the Kisakallio Sports Institute in Lohja, Finland, from the 3-8 November 2012.

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