Scottish Women win Gold at World Juniors
Scotland successfully defended the women’s World junior title on Sunday morning, beating the Czech Republic by 6-5 to take gold after a tense final that went to an extra end before it was decided.
Beside them, Russia ran Sweden out of stones in the tenth end, to win their game by 7-4 and take bronze for the second year in succession.
Scotland had last stone advantage at the start of the gold final, but it was the Czechs who scored first, stealing a single point in the second end when Scottish skip Hannah Fleming wrecked on the way into the house with her last stone. However the Scots made amends in the thirds, when, after splitting the house Fleming produced a good hit and stick to score two.
In the fourth end, an umpire’s measure gave the Czech Republic one point to level the game and then, after blanking the fifth, the Scots took the lead again when Fleming hit again for one. The Czechs fourth player Iveta Janatova faced three Scottish counters when she played her last in the seventh but scored one to level the game again with a nose-hit.
The Scots blanked the eighth and Fleming produced a really delicate tap-out at the back of the house to score two in the ninth for a 5-3 lead. A missed peel by Fleming in the tenth gave the Czechs the chance to score two and force the extras end which they took when Janatova had a nose-hit. The tense eleventh end eventually came down to Fleming hitting out one Czech counter and staying inside another, which she just managed, to score one, win the game, ands take the world crown.
The Scotland team – skip Hannah Fleming, Lauren Gray, Alice Spence, lead Abigail Brown, all supported by fifth player Jennifer Martin and coach Debbie Knox – topped the rankings at the end of the round-robin and defeated the Czech team three times during the week to emerge as deserved champions.
Afterwards, Fleming said, “world champion? …It sounds very good. It’s what we’ve been working hard for all season and I’m really chuffed”.
She added, “I only finally believed we were going to win when my stone stopped on the last shot. We felt fine in the tenth, my first over-curled but we knew that we always had the chance for an extra end if we got one out, so I did that with my second”.
Speaking about the extra end, she said, “I knew the extra end was going to come down to my last one because they played really well. I wasn’t enjoying my last shot very much, but I know that I had to do it and it worked out in the end”.
She also praised her team-mates, saying, “I couldn’t have asked for more from my team, they were great for the whole week, and in the final we just didn’t put a foot wrong, so thanks to them. Our realistic target was to get to the latter stage of the competition. When we got to the 1-2, we weren’t going to be happy with bronze our silver. At the start of the competition, we’d have been happy to get through, but when we’d had such a good week, and were winning all the games, we really wanted to dig in”.
She also had a thought for her brave opponents, “the Czech girls played fantastic all week, beating some of the big teams. We were just fortunate enough to play better against them on all three occasions so I like to think we deserved our win today”.
For her part, silver medal skip Zuzana Hajkova was gracious in defeat. “I’m very disappointed but I’m so happy for Hannah, she played some amazing stones and she was great. Her team was so friendly, and the atmosphere between them was ‘how to win’, so they deserved to win”.
This silver medal represents a major break-through for Czech curling on the international stage, as Hajkova confirmed, “this medal means something big for curling in the Czech Republic. No-one else has ever done it in any world competitions, so I think they must be proud of us…I hope so”.
The bronze medal game started with Sweden playing two blank ends before their Russian opponents forced then to take a single in the third. Russia took the lead with a score of two in the fourth, but Sweden came right back with another two in the fifth for a 3-2 half-time lead.
However, Russia seized the initiative in the second half. They scored three in the sixth and stole one in the seventh. Sweden then blanked the eighth and could only take a single from the ninth. Russia then controlled the tenth end and eventually ran Sweden out of stones to claim bronze for the second year.
The Women’s team arrive back in Scotland on Monday 12th March at 19:55 on BA1458 to Edinburgh Airport.
Final: Czech Republic 5, Scotland 6 (extra end)
Bronze game: Sweden 4, Russia 7.
Report: Mike Haggerty; Picture: WCF/Richard Gray