Young curlers light up Sochi Olympic venue
Sochi’s Ice Cube Curling Centre welcomed young curling stars from around the world from 28 February to 10 March, as it played host to the 2013 World Junior Curling Championships.
The newly-built venue, which will stage the curling competition at next year’s Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, saw 10 men’s teams and 10 women’s teams battle it out to be crowned world junior champions.
The men’s competition featured teams from Canada, China, Czech Republic, Italy, Norway, Russia, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA, while the women’s tournament included representatives from Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Japan, Norway, Russia, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA.
Scotland took top honours in the men’s event, beating hosts Russia 6-2 in the final, with skip Kyle Smith delighted to lead his team to victory.
"I'm speechless! I don't know what to say. I just feel fantastic,” he said. “We've just had a really good week and a good year. I was a wee bit nervous, but that's only natural. We just played everything we could; we just didn't give them much of a chance. They played well but we got our two for the lead and that just settled the nerves a bit, and we just made a lot of shots from there."
It was the first time that a Russian team had played in a junior world final, but skip Evgeniy Arkhipov was left disappointed, despite his team’s historic silver medal.
“We were trying to get something started but it just didn't happen,” he said afterwards. “We've been preparing a lot for this tournament and we wanted gold, but we ended with silver.”
Russian supporters had reason to cheer in the women’s competition, however, as they saw their team come from behind to beat defending champions Scotland 6-5 after an extra end.
Afterwards, Russian skip Alina Kovaleva said: “I am very happy. Everyone’s dream came true so it is wonderful; it’s fantastic. Once the boys lost this morning, we had to win, so that was a good motivation for us."
Scottish skip Hannah Fleming was gracious in defeat, saying: "We just weren't firing as well in the final as we have been. But you've got to hand it to Russia because they played well. But I'm really disappointed because we just didn't show up in the final."
In the third-place play-offs, Canada took bronze in the men’s tournament with a 6-4 win over Sweden, while Japan ended their 14-year junior medal drought when they beat the Czech Republic by 8-4 to take bronze in the women’s event – the first medals for their country at this level since 1999.