Canada, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland into semifinals

ITA-USA Photo: WCF/Richard Gray

Canada, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland are through to the semifinals of the Mixed Team curling competition at the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games after winning their quarterfinal games on Wednesday morning.

It was a clean sweep for Team Sweden as they never let opponents Norway get on the scoreboard and had steals of two and three points in the 5th and 7th ends before the Norwegians conceded the game at 8-0.

“It was solid performance, everyone in my team played very well, especially in the last half of the game. I didn’t miss a shot and we didn’t give our opponents a chance,” said Swedish Skip Rasmus Wrana. “Norway are good friends of ours and of course it was a big loss - they know they had a bad game, but it won’t affect our friendship. They said they will cheer us in the next round which is great to hear!”

Norwegian Skip, Markus Skogvold was disappointed: “It just didn’t go our way today, we missed a couple of really important shots and throughout the game they made all of the crucial shots. But Sweden were the better team and deserved to win. It’s really disappointing right now. I’m happy for Sweden, they’re good friends of mine and we will cheer for them throughout their final games.”

The Japanese had their Swiss opponents on the run for most of their quarterfinal game. Skip Shingo Usui stole single points in the third and fourth ends and led the game 2-0 until the Swiss were able to take 3 points back in the 6th end. The game went all the way to the last stone with Swiss Skip Michael Brunner having to draw to the button against three Japanese counters for a 4-3 win.

“It was really cool winning this morning,” said Swiss Skip Brunner afterwards. “But I’m pretty happy the game is behind us as we had some problems at the beginning. It was a very tight game and after our poor start we got better in the second half of the game, scoring three points which helped us on our way.

“We have Sweden in the next round which will be a pretty hard game. Who knows what will happen. We have reached our goal by making the quarterfinals so anything else would be a bonus.”

Japanese coach Shinya Abe said: “I’m quite disappointed. Before this event we had a small training camp at the beginning of December for around five days but it’s hard to pulling together a team in such a short period of time. We had a good start today but in the late end we made a couple of tactical mistakes and missed a shot which cost us the game. But I’m proud of the team and their achievements and they are all looking forward to the Mixed Doubles competition.”

In the game between Italy and USA, the Italians stole four points in the fourth end when US Skip Korey Dropkin was light with his last stone. With the score 5-0 going into the break, the Americans faced a major task to get back into the game. A bold shot by Dropkin in the 5th end secured the Americans two points. But Italy widened the lead to 7-2 in the 6th end. Following a failed double take out attempt by Italian Skip Amos Mosaner, Dropkin drew for 3 points in 7th. Italy won the game 7-5 in the eighth end after the Americans wracked on a guard and ruined their chances of scoring two points to tie up the game and force an extra end.

“We are delighted with this win and particularly to steal four points like that,” said Italian Skip Mosaner. “Right from the start our plan was to play an even-handed, open game. But I think the other side was nervous. And after losing those four points they were more nervous. Now we must focus on the semifinals.”

“The other team got a couple of lucky shots and we didn’t really make our shots,” admitted Dropkin. “The second half we stepped it up with a change of strategy. We played a lot more guards and we started making more of our shots and tried to work our way back and didn’t quite get it there at the end.”

In the remaining quarterfinal game, Canada faced the Czech Republic. Canada was leading 7-3 going into the 6th end. The Czechs fought back taking two points in the 6th and stealing one point in the 7th but the Canadians were able to hold onto their narrow 7-6 lead with Skip Thomas Scoffin clearing out the house with his final stone to blank the end and win the game.

“Our first goal was to make the playoffs and we achieved that. Our second goal was to win that first quarterfinal game and we are there. It’s just another step on the road, we’re not there yet. We are keeping our heads level and staying in the moment,” said Scoffin afterwards.

“It’s disappointing. We know Canada were a better team than us, but they played a little bit worse than we expected. We tried everything. It was close but the better team finally won,” concluded Czech Skip Marek Cernovsky.

He added “I’m looking forward to the Mixed Doubles. It will be a very interesting experience and I’m looking forward to seeing what girl I will get and getting the opportunity to learn from someone from a different country. If we reach some success in this other competition it would be great and gives us all another chance at winning at medal.”

In the semifinals, which begin at 13:00 local time (CET), Canada plays Italy and Sweden faces Switzerland.

The Gold and Bronze medal games take place at 17:00 local.

The final standings of the Mixed Teams curling competition will determine the teams for the unique Mixed Doubles curling competition where one male and one female curler, from different nations, join together in the second curling competition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games.

Curling fans will be able to keep up to date with the latest scores from the event via the World Curling Federation micro-site: http://www.innsbruck2012.worldcurling.net

The World Curling Federation will also be updating regularly from the event via their fan feeds on Twitter http://twitter.com/worldcurling and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/WorldCurlingFederation

A daily highlights video clip covering all of the Winter Olympic sports taking place at the Games will be available on the Innsbruck 2012 YouTube site http://www.youtube.com/innsbruck2012

FINAL STANDINGS

5. USA – United States of America
6. CZE – Czech Republic
7. JPN - Japan
8. NOR - Norway
9. CHN - China
10. GBR – Great Britain
11. RUS - Russia
12. KOR - Korea
13. NZL – New Zealand
14. AUT - Austria
15. GER - Germany
16. EST - Estonia

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