ECC 2013: Day 1 Early Round-up

Scotland skip, Eve Muirhead, got revenge on Russia following their defeat to them in last year's final Photo: WCF/Richard Gray

There were contrasting fortunes for the defending champions when play got under way at the 2013 Le Gruyère European Curling Championships in Stavanger, Norway on Saturday.

Sweden, the reigning men's champions, had a comfortable 8-2 win over the Czech Republic, but Russia, the reigning women's champions, went down by 11-5 to world champions Scotland.

The men were first into action and Sweden, who are also current world champions, blanked the first end before their skip, Niklas Edin, drew his last stone of the second end into the house to score two points and take a 2-0 lead.

The game-deciding end was the fifth, when Czech skip Jiri Snitil came up light with his final stone, giving Sweden a steal of three points for a 6-1 lead. The Czechs eventually conceded defeat after just seven ends, with the final score 8-2 to Sweden.

Afterwards, Sweden skip, Niklas Edin said: "That was a solid opening game for us. We started good and got some breaks early and kept that lead."

Switzerland opened with a 13-3 win over France. Their victory was helped by a nice draw-shot in the sixth end by their skip Sven Michel, which gave them four points and an 8-2 lead on their way to victory in only eight ends of play.

In their game against Scotland, Denmark started well as skip Rasmus Stjerne played a delicate shot into a busy house that eventually produced a three-point steal for them in the first end.

The Scots were chasing the game after this and Denmark effectively ended the game as a contest in the seventh end when Stjerne drew his final stone into the house to score four points. Denmark eventually won 10-6 after nine ends of play.

Afterwards, Denmark skip Stjerne said: "It was back and forth. We came out early, the Scots fought back, but then we got a big break in the seventh and that was the game."

Playing in front of a home crowd Norway are among the title favourites and they opened with a 7-4 win over Latvia.

Their skip, Thomas Ulsrud, set the foundation for their victory with a tap-back to score two points in the second end and take a 2-0 lead. Later, he drew to score one point in the eighth end and push the score to 7-3 in his favour. Latvia scored another single point in the ninth end before conceding the game with the final score 7-4.

Russia meanwhile started their campaign off with a 7-4 win against Finland. After taking a single point to open the scoring in the second end, they stole another two points, one in the third end and another in the fourth end to go 3-0 up. Although Finland levelled the game in the sixth end by stealing a single point, Russia took the lead again with a single point in the seventh end. This was a lead they were not to lose, taking another two points in the tenth and final end to seal their win.

The women's opening game between Russia and Scotland was a re-run of last year's European final. This time round however it was the Scots who had the upper hand.

Scotland took a steal of two points in the fourth end when Russian skip Anna Sidorova was heavy with her final hit. The Scots then scored six points in the sixth end when Scottish skip Eve Muirhead tapped-out the only Russian stone lying in the house. The Scots eventually ran out as 11-5 winners after eight ends of play.

After the game, Muirhead said: "The sixth end was the turning point. We were one up with hammer and they were chasing us. We played a good end and to come away with a six is always nice. We all played well out there and it was a good team effort."

Norway's women were too powerful for their Italian opponents, taking four points in the fifth end for a 10-2 lead. Italy scored single points in the next two ends but Norway regained control in the eighth end, scoring one point for an 11-4 lead on their way to their 12-4 victory after nine ends of play.

Afterwards, Norway skip, Marianne Roervik, said: "I’m happy we won. I don’t think we’re among the favourites for the medals but we’re looking to secure a World Championship spot." About playing on home ice she added: "It’s nice to play at home. It is great to hear people shouting for you when you play your shots.”

Switzerland faced Denmark in their opener. The Danes found themselves 6-1 down before their skip Lene Nielsen played a double take-out to score two points and narrow the score to 6-3 in favour of the Swiss in the sixth end.

Switzerland always had the upper hand though and, in the tenth end, their skip Mirjam Ott produced a double take-out of her own to score the one point needed to give her team their 8-5 victory.

Against the Czech Republic, Sweden established an early lead. It took until the fifth end, with a draw into the house to score two points by their skip Anna Kubeskova to give the Czechs their first points of the game and push the score line to 5-2 in Sweden's favour.

In the seventh end, Sweden's fourth player, Maria Prytz, drew into the house to score three points and take an 8-3 lead. The Swedes eventually won by 10-3 after eight ends of play.

The Germany - Latvia game went into an extra end when Germany skip Andrea Schöpp - making her 29th appearance at these Championships - hit to score two points, level the game, and force an extra end.

This was not enough however as Latvia then went on to score the one point needed for their 6-5 victory without having to play their final stone in the extra end when Schöpp’s last effort was heavy.

After her win, and mindful of the recent tragedy in her country, Latvian skip Evita Regza said: "We feel great having got this win. This is a victory after our tragedy in Latvia so we dedicate this victory to them. Our goal is to stay in A group. We have been working very hard for the past two seasons and are ready to fight to stay here”.

Results
MEN
Session 1:
France 3, Switzerland 13; Scotland 6, Denmark 10; Russia 7, Finland 4; Czech Republic 2, Sweden 8; Norway 7, Latvia 4.

WOMEN
Session 1:
Scotland 11, Russia 5; Norway 12, Italy 4; Switzerland 8, Denmark 5; Sweden 10, Czech Republic 3; Latvia 6, Germany 5 (extra end).

STANDINGS (W-L)
MEN

1. Denmark 1-0
1. Norway 1-0
1. Russia 1-0
1. Switzerland 1-0
1. Sweden 1-0
6. Czech Republic 0-1
6. Finland 0-1
6. France 0-1
6. Latvia 0-1
6. Scotland 0-1

WOMEN
1. Latvia 1-0
1. Norway 1-0
1. Scotland 1-0
1. Switzerland 1-0
1. Sweden 1-0
6. Czech Republic 0-1
6. Denmark 0-1
6. Germany 0-1
6. Italy 0-1
6. Russia 0-1

Extensive televised coverage of the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2013 from Stavanger can be seen by viewers in Europe on Eurosport and additionally in Norway on TV2 Sport. Live coverage will also be available via the internet on the Eurosport Player and on the World Curling Federation’s YouTube Channel World Curling TV. Complete coverage details can be seen here: http://ecc2013.curlingevents.com/tv-broadcast-web-tv-coverage-schedule

Live scores & Statistics: http://ecc.curlit.com

Event Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EuropeanCurlingChampionships

Twitter Hashtags: #ecc2013 #curling

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