The Official World Curling Federation
Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games Website
07th - 16th March 2014

Semi-finals Roundup

Canada have qualified for their third consecutive Paralympic Winter Games gold medal game Photo: WCF/Alina Pavlyuchik

History was made on more than one occasion this morning at the semi-finals of the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games wheelchair curling competition, as both Russia and Canada qualified for the gold medal game.

As a result of their victories, Russia, playing in their first Paralympic Winter Games, have guaranteed themselves a medal for the first time in their country’s history in this competition. Canada meanwhile qualify for their third consecutive gold medal game since the introduction of wheelchair curling to the Paralympic programme back in 2006.

While the two winners, Russia and Canada, will meet in the gold medal game, the two semi-final losers, China and Great Britain, will play for the bronze medals, both games at 15:30 (MSK) on Saturday afternoon.

In the 1v4 game, Russia raced to a 4-0 lead after two ends, thanks to a steal of three points in the second end when Great Britain skip Aileen Neilson didn’t quite get her final raise attempt right with her last stone.

Neilson, the only female skip in the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games wheelchair curling competition, made amends in the next end as good set up play left her with a hit to score three points to cut the scoreline to 4-3, still in Russia’s favour.

The turning point came in the fourth end however. With his first stone, Russia skip Andrey Smirnov played a take-out to move a British stone out of the house through several stones.

After that, British skip Aileen Neilson missed a draw with her final stone and although Russia could have taken eight points, the Russian skip wrecked on a guard with his final stone.

This play resulted in a Paralympic Winter Games wheelchair curling record as Russia took seven points and an 11-3 lead, the highest number of points ever taken in one end.

Great Britain played on for another three ends before they finally conceded defeat in the eighth end with the final score 13-4.

As a result, Russia, the 2012 World Wheelchair Curling Champions, will play in their first Paralympic Winter Games gold medal game.

Afterwards, Russia skip Andrey Smirnov reflected on that big score in the fourth end. He said: “It's very rare but sometimes it happens. It has not happened to us before but our competitor made mistakes. They didn't choose the right strategy. We collected our stones in the house, so in the end we won those (points).”

Looking towards the gold medal game he continued: “For all of us, it's a big game. It was a dream and now the dream comes true. We want very much to beat Canada in the final."

The 3v4 game proved to be a lot tighter. Canada took an early advantage as they took single points in the first two ends, before China took one point back in the third end.

Canada entered the fourth end break up 3-1 thanks to another single point score in the fourth end.

China levelled the game in the sixth end when they stole one point after Canadian skip Jim Armstrong hit and rolled too far to leave one Chinese stone counting.

Armstrong then made up for that mistake in the seventh end as he made a draw to score two points following a missed take-out by Chinese skip Haitao Wang with his last stone, giving Canada a 5-3 advantage going into the last end.

China skip Wang then had the chance to take the game into an extra end as he drew for two points but was too heavy and only scored one point, giving Canada a 5-4 win and the opportunity to defend the gold medals that they won in the Vancouver Paralympic Winter Games in 2010.

Following their win, Canada skip Jim Armstrong said: “"That was close. I struggled in the entire game. But the team played well and fortunately the draws on this weren't overly critical. But we were still in control, actually in the entire game. As long as I didn't have to throw a draw, we were going to be OK."

Looking towards the gold medal game he said: “I don't think you could script it any better. I truly believe we're the best two teams in the round robin. I think it would be a shame for the sport if Russia wasn't in the final. They've played very, very well and have showed an understanding of the game that certainly exceeds the time they've played it. Their strategy is good and obviously their technical ability is good, so we'll have our hands full. I'm still confident we'll squeak it through somehow."

Both the gold and bronze medal games begin at 15:30 (MSK).

RESULTS
Semi-finals
1v4:
Russia 13, Great Britain 4.
2v3: Canada 5, China 4.

STANDINGS
Standings after semi-finals:

Russia (to play Canada in gold medal game)
Canada (to play Russia in gold medal game)
China (to play Great Britain in bronze medal game)
Great Britain (to play China in bronze medal game)
5. USA
6. Slovakia
7. Sweden
8. Norway
9. Korea
10. Finland

Rankings:
Rankings are determined by rule C9 of the World Curling Federation's ‘The Rules of Curling and Rules of Competition’. Details can be obtained at www.worldcurling.org/rules-and-regulations

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