Scotland Secure World Wheelchair & Paralympic Places
The World Wheelchair-B Curling Championship 2016 in Lohja, Finland, concluded on Thursday (10 November) and saw Finland and Scotland qualify for the World Wheelchair Curling Championship (WWhCC) 2017 being held in Gangneung, Korea (4-11 March 2017).
WWhCC 2017 will be a test event for the Paralympic Winter Games (PWG) being held in PyeongChang, Korea between 9-18 March 2018. Also, with Finland and Scotland qualifying, who have already gained PWG points in the last two World Wheelchair Curling Championships the field for the 2018 Games is all but set.
Therefore, the teams for the 2017 World Wheelchair Championships and the Paralympic Winter Games, to be played in Gangneung Curling Centre, will be Russia, China, Norway, USA, Canada, Slovakia, Finland, hosts Korea, Switzerland, Germany, Scotland (as Great Britain at PWG) and Sweden.
In Lohja, at the Kisakallio Sports Institute, Scotland faced England in the semi-final, with the winner taking the spot in the gold medal game and the first of the two qualifying places for the WWhCC 2017.
England with the hammer in the opening end would score two points before Scotland responded with a score of four points in the second end to take a lead they would hold onto for the rest of the game. A score of three points in the fourth end, followed by steals of three points in the fifth end and two points in the sixth end sealed their 13-3 win and their place at the World Championships.
The other semi-final game saw hosts Finland compete against Slovakia with both teams looking to return to the World Championships after being relegated in last year’s event held in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Finland would control the game from the opening end when they stole a single point followed by a further steal of two points in the second end. A response of two points in the third end would be Slovakia’s only points in the game and Finland would go on to win by a score of 8-2. This gave them the remaining place in the gold medal game and the World Championships.
Slovakia would defeat England by a score of 9-1 for the bronze medals.
Finland and Scotland faced each other for the gold medals in a back and forth game. With the scores level at 4-4 after six ends Finland would score a single point in the seventh end before stealing a single point in the eighth end for the win and the gold medals.
They Said It:
Markku Karjalainen, skip; Finland (after their 6-4 victory over Scotland to win the gold medals): “We played relaxed, so we enjoyed the game, that probably also resulted in the good shots. So that was an enjoyable game.”
Aileen Neilsen, skip; Scotland (after their 13-3 semi-final win over England): “We’ve had a good week but we knew that was going to be the game that was a huge turning point for us, so we’re absolutely delighted that we’ve made the Worlds next year and also confirmed our place at the Paralympics, so we’re absolutely delighted.”
Photo © WCF / Janne Ojanperä