Friday, December 14, 2012

And now the end.......of many things.

The B Division medal games finally panned out as Finland v Latvia for gold and silver and England v Netherlands for bronze in the men's and Norway v Latvia for gold and silver and Austria v Estonia for bronze in the women's.

The results were:

Finland 7 Latvia 4
Netherlands 10 England 5

Latvia 7 Norway 4
Austria 8 Estonia 5

Finland will now challenge France for the last place in the World Men's Championship while there will be no challenge to Germany for last place in the World Women's Championship as Latvia are the hosts and therefore automatically qualify and there is nothing in the rules which allows the runners-up in that situation to challenge for the last World position.

So of the 4 teams that came down from the A Division last year only the Italian men have failed to go straight back up again - replaced by Finland. Looking in the reverse direction, only the Russian men have stayed up in the A Division after promotion last year. Their place in the B Division will surprisingly be taken by Germany who for the first time in the men's European Championships will not be in the top flight next year.

At the European Curling Federation's AGM the process to begin winding up the ECF began.

·         The ECF will not operate in 2013 though it will still exist in legal terms, but there will be no subscriptions collected. The WCF will take over the running of the European Championships and the European Mixed Championships which means that there will be no entry fees. The next ECF meeting will be at the 2013 Europeans in Stavanger, Norway and the final meeting will be at the 2014 Europeans in Champery, Switzerland. It was decided that basically it was not sensible to fully dissolve the ECF before the final WCF constitutional changes are known.

There were elections, however, to form a new Board to take the ECF through these final two years. Olle Riisanen of Finland was re-elected as President with Karel Kubeska of Czech Republic as Vice President. The elected regional reps are: Gerrit-Jan Scholten (NED), Bjorn Rudstrom (SWE), Hew Chalmers (SCO) and Marjan Petric (SLO) with the members at large being Edith Loudon (SCO), Andras Rokusfalvy (HUN) and Robert Susanj (SLO).


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Play off time at Karlstad

After England's defeat of Italy in last night's tie-breaker they were back on the ice for the first of the play-off games today against Netherlands in the meeting of the second place teams in the different groups. The winner would have a rest until the bronze medal game on Friday while the winner would have a chance of getting to the Final and to the A Division against the loser of the game between the two group leaders, Finland and Latvia.

The equivalent women's games were Latvia v Austria (3 v 4) and Norway v Estonia (1 v 2).

Men: The England v Netherlands game was close after 5 ends with the Dutch on top by 3-2 though they then scored a 3 and a stolen single to stretch their lead to 7-2. England hit back with a 2 at the 8th end, but the Dutch then hit their way home to win by 7-4. The Dutch will now face Finland who lost a close game to Latvia 5-6. Latvia return to the A Division and will face Finland or Netherland in the B Division final

Women: Norway and Estonia were tied at 3-3 after 5 ends but Norway then broke the deadlock with a 5 and eventually ran out winners at 10-5. Austria took an early 3-0 lead against Latvia who then scored 6 over three ends without reply and further stretched their lead to 9-4 after 9 ends, when Austria conceded. So Norway are back in the A Division next year and will face either Estonia or Latvia in the final of the B Division.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Karlstad B Division Summary

Now that the final games have been played in the B Division group, it is time to reflect and summarise who goes up and who goes down.

The first group to be decided was the Blue Group for the men where the teams that were to qualify for the play-offs had been decided before the last round of games - Netherlands and Latvia then finished with wins over Poland and Lithuania respectively and because Latvia had beaten the Netherlands in their match earlier in the week they finished top of the group with 6 wins and 1 loss, the same record as the Netherlands. Third in the group were Croatia on 4 wins, then Belgium (4 wins), Poland (3 wins), Austria (2 wins), Lithuania (2 wins) and finally Ireland (1 win).The Irish win ironically came over Group winners Latvia but the final ranking relegates them to the C Division next year.

They were followed by the women where Norway were already clear group winners on 8 points. Estonia had also qualified on 6 points before the last session and faced Turkey who had to win to get themselves into a tie break situation. Austria and Latvia were both on 5 wins at this stage and were playing against each other, the winner would qualify and the loser could face a tie breaker if Turkey won.

At the bottom there were a number of possibilities, depending on Belarus' fate against Poland combined with England's result against Norway. Basically if Belarus lost then they would be relegated to division C along with the loser of the Spain v Slovakia game. If Belarus beat Poland and England lost to Norway then there would be 4 teams tied on 3 wins from which one would need to be found for the second relegation place. The 4 teams would be England, Belarus, Poland and the winner of Spain v Slovakia.If England beat Norway then it would be the other 3 teams going for one place.

For England this was an improvement on the position going into the last end of the previous (penultimate) session when they were losing to Turkey and Belarus were up on Latvia. If that had stayed as the situation then England were doomed along with the loser of the Spain v Slovakia game today. Fortunately for England the Turkish skip hogged both her draws at the last end and Latvia also scored 2 to beat Belarus, thus setting up the situation described above.

The first issue to be decided today was Slovakia's relegation to the C Division when they lost to Spain by 8-3. England then lost to Norway by 4-9 and they and Spain had to sit and sweat for 2 ends while Belarus came back against Poland. In the end Poland held on to win 7-4, Belarus were relegated to the C group and, as so often happens in these situations, when it all settled down there were no tie breakers needed after all.

At the top Estonia beat Turkey 12-5 to finish second and will play Norway in the Page 1v2 play-off while Austria and Latvia will repeat their game from today, (when Latvia won at an extra end) in the 3 v 4 play-off.

In the Red Group for the men, Finland finished on top with just the one defeat by England who finished tied for second with Italy and will play a tie break. At the bottom of the Group, the unfortunate Welsh team will join Ireland in the C Group. With the relegation of the Welsh and Irish women last year, it means that just the English teams are still in the B Group.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Karlstad Update 3

Further to the last post, the 7th round of women's games in the B Division at the European Championships saw Norway guaranteed a play-off place with their 7th consecutive win, 7-6 against Estonia - a game which looked to be heading Estonia's way until the last few stones. Austria increased their chances of progress by beating Spain 7-4, while the Turkish team overcame a running down time clock to defeat Poland 11-10 with the last stone of the game.

Belarus doubled their win tally with a 7-5 defeat of England while the last game came to a bizarre end. The score is recorded on the website as 8-7 to Latvia but it was in fact awarded to Latvia when Slovakia ran out of time in the extra end. The software package being used has no facility to record a game as a W or L when this happens.

It would appear that no one had noticed that the Slovakian time clock had run down as Latvia continued to play their last stone before the umpire intervened. Ironically Slovakia were lying shot and it appears to be incredible that nobody in the team had noticed that time was running out - at 9 minutes for an extra end this is surely enough time to play your 8 stones.

The current standings and games remaining are:

Norway 7 (ENG, ESP)
Austria 5 (LAT, EST)
Estonia 5 (AUT, TUR)
Turkey 4 (EST, ENG)
Latvia 4 (AUT, BLR)
Poland 3 (SVK, BLR)
England 2 (NOR, TUR)
Spain 2 (NOR, SVK)
Belarus 2 (LAT, POL)
Slovakia 1 (POL, ESP)

Karlstad Update 2

As the group games progress here in the B arena in Karlstad the various possible outcomes are becoming clear.

In the women's competition, Norway remain undefeated after 6 games and one more win from their last three games will see them in the play-offs. Their nearest challengers are Estonia who have recovered from their surprise first session defeat by England to put together a run of 5 victories, while Austria have also bounced back and lie third on 4 wins.

At the other end of the table Belarus and Slovakia have just one win each with England and Spain on 2 wins. Which leaves the middle ground where Poland, Turkey and Latvia have three wins each.The top 4 teams qualify for the play-offs while the bottom two are relegated to the C Division.

The men's teams are in two groups. In the red group it looks like the two qualifiers will come from Italy, England and Finland who are all on 4 wins and 1 loss. They have all played each other and since Italy have beaten England who beat Finland who beat Italy, if they all win their last two games then the rankings based on the Draw Shot Challenge will decide who finishes top and who will then play -off for the second qualifying place. Italy's remaining games are against Turkey (2 wins and 3 losses) and Slovakia (1 win and 4 losses) while both Finland and England have to play Spain (2 wins and 3 losses) and Wales (1 win and 4 losses). The other team in the section, Estonia, are also on 2 wins and 3 losses.

At his 18th Europeans, Adrian Meikle is finding the going tough this year and Wales are staring relegation in the face with difficult games to come against Finland and then England.

In the blue group, the other home country, Ireland, is propping up the table with the new team, skipped by Alan Mitchell and with John Furey playing last stones, being unable to capitalise on their first session victory over Latvia. They have just one game to play against Belgium which is a must win, as the teams immediately above them, Lithuania and Austria, both have at least one more victory.

Latvia and Netherlands have 4 victories and 1 loss at the top of the table with Belgium their nearest challenger on 3 wins and 2 losses. While Poland and Croatia also have 3 wins, they have both lost 3 games and have only game left.

On the ice at the moment are the women and a further update will follow this afternoon.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Update from Karlstad - 1

Hello from Karlstad where I am attending the European Championships and apologies that we are day 2 without an update but slight hiccup with the date on my laptop meant it would not let me access this blog as according to the date it had not yet been created!

The Karlstad Curling Club where the B Division games are being played has 8 sheets in two separate halls of 4 divided by a wall with round windows at eye level.While there is a common bar area, it is not possible to see the scoreboards in the other hall from the one in which one is sitting. This means a lot of walking back and forth to see the scores across the full 6 sheets that are being used (3 in each hall). It is a super brand new facility with great viewing from upstairs which is especially good for the coaches who do not need to sit outside in the rink freezing their whatnots.

With 4 sessions a day the umpires and icemen are very busy and also for those who are supporting a team in both genders, the days are long with first sessions at 0800 and last ones beginning at 2000.

The restriction to a regular 16 men's teams and 10 women's teams has produced a standardised draw for the B Division compared to previous years when the draw depended on the number of entries, but the unfortunate thing for the men is that their sessions are always at 0800 and 1600 while the women are on at 1200 and 2000. So England men for example have just had two consecutive 0800 starts with one more to come tomorrow - Tuesday will bring a welcome relief with a 1600 start.

So what of the games. The 10 women's teams include Latvia and Norway who came down from the A Division and Belarus and Turkey who came up from the C Division. The first shock was Turkey's win over Latvia at an extra end in the first session, and this was followed by another defeat for Latvia from neighbours Estonia before they settled themselves with a win over England. Norway had fairly straightforward wins over Slovakia and Belarus before a comprehensive 7-1 win over Poland. Poland themselves had started off in great style with a 14-3 demolition of Austria, which included a 6 at the 4th end.

After 3 sessions Norway are the only undefeated team while at the other end Slovakia have failed to win a game. England won a tense game 6-4 against Estonia with singles being scored at each of the ten ends, and then lost 4-11 to both Austria and Latvia.

No other home nation is involved in the women's B Division, with Wales and Ireland not entering at all this year and Scotland, of course, in the A Division, but in the men, England and Wales are in the Red Group and Ireland in the B Group. England began by losing 5-7 to a new young Italian team while Wales defeated Spain by 10-9 after a game of high scoring ends.Ireland were surprise winners by 6-5 over newly relegated Latvia and were 3-0 up against Croatia in their second game before losing by 7-3.

Wales have since lost 2 further games to Slovakia (2-9) and Italy (7-8) while England defeated a very promising Turkey team by 7-4. As I write England are back on the ice against Estonia while Ireland are playing Austria. Then at 2000 England's women are on against Spain.