Scottish women have to settle for silver

Women’s Final: Scotland 5, Russia 6 (extra end).

Although they took it all the way to an extra end, Hannah Fleming’s women just failed to defend their world crown, out-gunned by Russia in the second half of their final at the World Junior Championships on Sunday afternoon, to finally go down by 5-6.

To win, Russia had to come from behind in the game.  The first end was blanked and then, when Russian fourth player Portunova missed a double take-out attempt in the second, Scottish skip Hannah Fleming had an easy draw to open the scoring with a two.

In the third end, both Fleming and Portunova wrecked on the way into the house with their last stones, but, with one stone already counting, Russia opened their account with a single shot.

The Scots had plenty of stones in the house during the fourth end, but, when Fleming’s complicated promote attempt went wrong they could only count one, for a 3-1 lead.  Russia then levelled the game at 3-3 in the fifth end when Portunova had a simple tap-up with her last stone to score two.

Scotland then blanked the next two ends looking for a big score, but their tactic backfired in the eighth end when a perfect draw by Portunova forced the Scots to attempt a double take-out that failed, giving Russia a two-point steal and the lead – by 5-3 – for the first time in the game.  After  a long discussion before they played their last stone in the ninth, the Scots chose to blank, and then good play in the tenth gave them their reward when Fleming eventually hit for two to tie the game and force the extra end.

In the eleventh, the Scots placed their front guards too close together, allowing Russia easy peels, and with her last stone Portunova delivered a perfect nose hit on a Scottish stone sitting at the front of the house for the one point needed to compete this historic win.

Russian skip Alina Kovaleva led her team to their country's first-ever World Junior medals

Scottish skip Fleming was reflective in defeat, saying, “we’ve been playing well all week, but 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 as well.  But I’m really disappointed because I think overall I think we deserved to win but we just didn’t show it in the final.  Maybe there was a bit of nerves but we felt confident still…it’s just curling for you, that’s what happens”.

Thinking about specific points in the game, she said, “the force of one in the fourth wasn’t great when we were looking good .  When they stole a  two (in the eighth) that gave them a great advantage.  Our stone placement was a bit slacker than usual and that’s not like us, we’re usually  really good at that.  But, we’ve had a great week overall.  Only losing two games is still pretty good.  We are a really strong team and we have to remember that we’ve done well”.

Japan beat the Czech Republic by 8-4 to take bronze, the first medals for their country at this level since 1999.

During the medal ceremony, USA third player Thomas Howell was announced as winner of the Sportsmanship Award among the men,  while Sweden’s skip Sara McManus gained the women’s award.

The full international story of these Championships is available here:

Report: Mike Haggerty

Pictures: WCF/Richard Gray




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