Scottish Men Win World Junior Gold
Men’s Final: Scotland 6, Russia 2.
Kyle Smith and his team of Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, lead Cameron Smith, as well as alternate Hammy McMillan and coach David Ramsay, became world junior champions when they beat hosts Russia by 6-2 in Sunday morning’s final of the World Junior Curling Championships in Sochi.
This was the first-ever appearance by a Russian team in a junior world final, and they had fought hard to reach this far, coming from behind to beat Canada by 11-8 in the extra end of the semi-final, and inflicting on Scotland the only loss they were to suffer throughout the event, when they won their round-robin match-up by 5-4.
But this time, Russia faced a Scotland team that was determined, and at the top of their form.
With last stone advantage because they had topped the rankings, the Scots blanked the first end and then took the early lead in the second end, scoring two when skip Smith delivered a perfect nose-hit on an open Russian stone.
Russia then blanked the third end, but Scotland stole a further single in the fourth when Smith drew nicely behind two front guards with his first stone and the Russians failed to remove it. The Scots added another single steal in the fifth end when Russian skip Evgeniy Arkhipov attempted a bold double take-out and missed the second Scottish stone, giving Scotland a 4-0 half-time lead.
Russia blanked the sixth end, but gave up yet another single steal in the seventh when Arkhipov’s attempt to clear left one Scottish stone counting. The Russians finally got on the scoreboard in the eighth end when Arkhipov played a good hit and stay at the back of the house for two shots.
By this time, the Scots were keeping everything clear and eventually, Smith had another nose-hit to score one in the ninth for a 6-2 lead. With his first stone of the final end, Smith cleared the house and ran Russia out of stones, to start the celebrations for the Scotland team.
- Scotland led Russia throughout the final
Afterwards, Scottish skip Smith said, ” I’m speechless, I don’t know what to say. I just feel fantastic. We’ve just had a really good week and a good year”. And speaking about his approach to the game, he said, “I was a wee bit nervous, but that’s only natural. We just played everything we could, we just didn’t give them much 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”.
Reflecting back to his round-robin defeat by Russia, he said, “I don’t know what the difference was between that game against Russia and the round-robin game – maybe just the fact that it was a final. We missed a few more shots against them in the round-robin than we did there and that’s probably the difference, but we were thinking that losing wasn’t an option”. Smith led this team to bronze last year and was visibly disappointed then, About that, he said simply, “we’ve got the colour of the medal right this year”.
Russia’s silver medal was a little piece of curling history, but skip Evgeniy Arkhipov was not thinking about that immediately after the game, as he explained, “it wasn’t a good game from the beginning. We were trying to get something started but it just didn’t happen. We’ve been preparing a lot for this tournament and we wanted gold, but we ended with silver. I won’t be playing next year because I’ll be too old, but I really hope the rest of the team will succeed next year”.
This is the first World Junior gold by Scottish men since 1996.
In the bronze medal game, Canada beat Sweden by 6-4.
The full international story of these Championships is available here: http://wjcc2013.curlingevents.com/
Report: Mike Haggerty
Picture: WCF/Richard Gray