Sweden, Norway and China maintain perfect starts in men’s curling competition
The men’s teams of China and Norway both enjoyed wins in the fourth session of men's round-robin play at Sochi 2014. They join Sweden at the top of the rankings, with a maximum nine points after three games. In the other game of the session at the Ice Cube Curling Centre, the USA got off the mark with a victory over Denmark.
The Danes took an early lead with a three-pointer in the first end, but the USA then embarked on a scoring streak to take a 6-3 lead into the break, maintaining their dominance in the last five ends to run out 9-5 winners. “We finally got some breaks, but it's down to playing well and making a bunch of shots," said a relieved US skip John Shuster.
Sporting chequered knickerbocker-style pants and striped flat caps, Norway faced a German team who opted for no-nonsense white tops and black trousers. Norway who took the early advantage, scoring two points in the first end, and moved further ahead in the fifth, before Germany levelled the game at 5-5 in the ninth. In the final end, Norwegian skip Thomas Ulsrud played a perfect draw with his first stone that forced Germany into a corner, and him able to score three points and take the game 8-5.
“We’re feeling good - on three wins now so we’re happy. We’ve been practising for four years for this so why not go out and enjoy it,” said Ulsrud. China had to battle all the way for their win against Switzerland, with the teams tied at 3-3 after five ends, and again at 4-4 after nine. The decisive tenth end came down to a tense last stone, and, after composing himself with a deep breath, China's skip Rui Liu played a draw into the four foot ring for a 5-4 win. “It felt very good out there on the ice,” he commented. “Both teams took their chances today but it worked out well for us in the end.”
The Chinese maintained their undefeated record intact in the afternoon session, beating Germany by 11-7 while Sweden suffered their first setback, losing 5-8 to Denmark. Germany suffered their fourth straight defeat, and despite battling back in the penultimate end were outwitted by Chinese skip Liu in the final end. “Patience was the key tonight however - the game only really turned in the last couple of ends,” admitted Liu.
Great Britain defeated Switzerland 4-2 in a tactical battle that featured four blank ends, and was hailed by their skip David Murdoch as “a much better performance” following their setback the previous day.
Canada ended a two-game losing streak with a 7-4 win over Russia that left skip Brad Jacobs relieved. “I feel a lot better - winning is fun and losing is no fun at all,” said Jacobs. “They were pretty tough, they played really well and their skip kept his team in that game.”
In the other game of the evening, Sweden and Denmark were tied at 2-2 before Danish skip Rasmus Stjerne Hansen conjured an inspired display to give his side a 6-2 lead, eventually beating their Scandinavian rivals 8-5. “We knew they would be coming hard at us. This is a great scalp for us,” said a delighted Hansen.