Day 5: w8 M8 Roundup

Sweden skip, Margaretha Sigfridsson, led her team to the play-offs with a win against Switzerland today Photo: WCF/Richard Gray

The qualification and relegation positions are starting to become clear at the Le Gruyere European Championships in Karlstad, Sweden as the round-robin stage comes to a close.

After eight of the nine sessions in the men's event, top of the table Sweden, on seven wins, faced Scotland. With the medal games out of reach for them, Scotland's target now is to secure world championship qualification.

Against Sweden, skip, Tom Brewster, played a nice soft take-out in the sixth end to score three for a 5-2 lead. But Sweden fought back. In the ninth end, Swedish skip, Niklas Edin, tapped out a Scottish counter to score two and then moved on to win 7-6, leaving Scotland still with work to do if they want to make it to the World Championship.

After this game, Edin said: “We probably should have lost that game. So we have to be really happy about the win. We struggled out there, we really didn’t play well at all. We were lucky with the win and are looking forward to the next game."

Chasing Sweden are the Czech Republic, Norway and Denmark, in equal second place. The Czech Republic faced up to Russia this morning, with both teams still very much in the medal hunt.

Russian skip Andrey Drozdov played a nice draw for two points in the fifth end for a 4-2 lead, but Czech skip Jiri Snitil responded in the seventh end with a good double take-out to score three points and put their nose in front again. In the tenth end he kept his nerve to hit out a Russian stone for the two points needed for his 7-6 win. This result means that Russia cannot now reach the play-offs.

For Hungary, the game against Denmark was their last chance to avoid relegation back to the B division following their promotion last year. They fought hard, scoring three points in the second end, but gradually Denmark's superiority started to show.

In the seventh end, Denmark's Rasmus Stjerne scored three points for an 8-4 lead, and while the Hungarians scored singles in each of the next two ends, they eventually ran out of stones in the tenth end to lose 8-6. This result confirms Hungary will finish in tenth place and will be relegated, even before they play their last game against Scotland.

Norway faced a French team who knew nothing but a win would keep their chances of avoiding relegation to next year's B division alive. This game went to an extra end and, in front of a hushed arena, a nerveless French skip, Thomas Dufour, drew into the house to score the one point needed for a 6-5 win and keep French hopes hanging on.

Afterwards, Dufour said: "I was wishing my last stone would be at the right speed - I was nervous because I have been missing a couple of shots to win this week" adding, "that’s a hugely important win that is very important for French curling because there would be a lot of difficulties in French curling afterwards if we did not qualify. Our game against Germany tonight is a must-win game."

Germany, who faced Switzerland, are trying to avoid relegation to the B zone for the first time ever. In the sixth end, skip Andreas Lang had a draw for two points to bring his team to within one point of the Swiss. However, it was not enough as Swiss skip Sven Michel drew for two points in the ninth end on his way to a 7-5 win.

Afterwards, Swiss skip Sven Michel said: “So far so good. We had a really nervous game – we knew we had to get two wins today and I’m happy we've got one of them now."

The drop to the B division is now just one loss away for Germany, meaning that the Wednesday evening game between Germany and France has turned into winner-takes-all.

Standings* (after 8 sessions):

Sweden 7-1
Czech Republic 6-2
Norway 6-2
Denmark 6-2
Switzerland 5-3
Russia 4-4
Scotland 3-5
France 2-6
Germany 1-7
Hungary 0-8

In the women's event after eight rounds, five teams are still in contention for play -off places while three teams remain in danger of relegation.

Russia are sure to be in the play-offs, following their 12- 7 win over the Czech Republic. They gave themselves a cushion when in the third end, skip Anna Sidorova hit for five points. They built on that in the fifth end when Sidorova had another hit, this time for two points.

After the game Sidorova remained focused on the task ahead. She said: “The round-robin has not finished yet. We still have to play Scotland tomorrow and we want to win that so we can finish at least second. First of all we wanted to qualify, now we can decide where we will finish."

Sweden are also assured of a play-off place, following their 8-5 win over Switzerland. In this game, Sweden's fourth player Maria Prytz drew for two points in the third end and then hit for a single point in the ninth as the Swedes resisted a late Swiss charge

Defending champions Scotland are still in the medal hunt as well after they kept their hopes of defending their title alive with a hard fought 8-5 win over Hungary. On the way, skip Eve Muirhead hit for three points in the second end and controlled the game from then on.

This defeat means that Hungary, who just gained promotion last year, remain in real danger of going straight back down. After the game Scottish skip, Eve Muirhead, said: "Give them their dues, we didn't play badly but they played great out there. Yes the score-line was close but we were in control for the whole game."

The game between Denmark and Italy was tight, with the Danes trying to get into the play-offs and the Italians trying to avoid relegation. Eventually it all came down to the final stone when Italy skip Diana Gaspari drew for the single point she needed for her 7-6 victory. The result keeps Italy’s hopes of staying in the A division alive.

Afterwards an elated Gaspari said: "The feeling is really incredible. It was such a shock to win the game. It was one of the few times in my life that I was able to win it that way. It feels good, really good, I’m still so excited."

Germany is another team trying to stay up and their skip Andrea Schopp did all she could do to achieve that. In the first end she made a draw for four points to set up the game for her team before hitting for another four points in the seventh end to seal her 11-2 victory over Finland, who remain in relegation trouble.

After this win Schopp was all too aware that her team is not yet safe. She said: "That at least gives us a chance not to go down to the B division, and maybe a chance for some play-offs for the world slot. This year is really difficult because only six teams will qualify direct for the worlds."

While Sweden and Russia are already in the weekend medal play-offs, it won’t be until Thursday morning's final round-robin games are finished before Switzerland, Scotland and Denmark will know if they can join them.

Standings* (after 8 sessions):

Sweden 7-1
Russia 7-1
Scotland 6-2
Switzerland 5-3
Denmark 5-3
Italy 3-5
Germany 3-5
Czech Republic 2-6
Finland 1-7
Hungary 1-7

*All standings take account of win-loss record and draw shot challenge (DSC)

Extensive televised coverage of the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2012 can be seen by viewers in Europe on Eurosport and in Sweden on TV4. Additional live coverage will be available via the internet on the Eurosport Player for fans in Europe and, for the first time, coverage will also be available on the World Curling Federation’s YouTube Channel World Curling TV for viewers outside of the Eurosport TV/Player European Territory. Complete coverage details can be seen here: http://ecc2012.worldcurling.net/tv-broadcast-web-tv-coverage-schedule

Event Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EuropeanCurlingChampionships
Twitter Hashtags: #ecc2012 #curling
European Curling Federation: http://europeancurling.com/

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