SCOTLAND’S Under-21 men were pipped to the world junior curling title by hosts Switzerland, losing 6-5 in yesterday’s gold-medal game in Flims.
Scotland skip Kyle Smith and his defending champion rink of Thomas Muirhead, younger brother of Olympic bronze medallist Eve, Kyle Waddell and Cameron Smith, came up just short but had no complaints about the outcome.
Smith, the defending champion, was saddened by the loss of his crown but said: “We didn’t play our best by any means. You can’t take anything from them, they played very well.”
The gold medal-winning Swiss team, led by skip Yannick Schwaller who played third stones, consisted of fourth player Reto Keller, second player Patrick Witschonke and lead Michael Probst. They were supported by alternate Romano Meier, who played a number of games throughout the week, including the final.
The Scots, hoping to build on the seniors’ silver and bronze double at the recent Winter Olympics in Sochi, had last-stone advantage in the first end and opened the scoring with a single point. Switzerland responded by scoring two points in the second end for a 2-1 lead, and then built on that in the third end when Scotland were short with their final draw to give up a single-point steal and push the Swiss lead to 3-1.
Solid Swiss tactics in the fourth end then forced Scottish skip Smith to draw for just one point in the fourth end, and this reduced Switzerland’s lead to 3-2. However, the Swiss increased their led in the fifth end when Switzerland’s fourth player Keller tapped out a Scottish stone to score two points and take a 5-2 lead.
In the sixth end, Smith was just too thin on a double take-out attempt with his final stone, leaving one Swiss stone in the house, rather than removing it, to give Switzerland a steal of one point and a lead of 6-2.
In the seventh, Scotland were looking for a big score to bring themselves back into the game, but eventually their skip Smith was forced to draw for one and reduce the Swiss lead by one point, to 6-3. Switzerland then blanked the eighth end and, in a dramatic ninth end, Switzerland’s fourth player Reto Keller had a complete miss with his last stone to give Scotland a steal of one point that reduced the Swiss lead to 6-4.
In the tenth end, Keller made amends when he took out one of two Scottish stones in the house, which made it mathematically impossible for Scotland to win, giving his team a 6-5 victory and the first Swiss World Junior title since 2010, also in Flims, when Peter de Cruz won for the hosts. Switzerland completed their campaign with wins in their last six games, including a tie-breaker against Italy that put them into the Page play-off stages in the first place. Swiss skip Schwaller said: “It’s crazy – I can’t say what this means for us – I don’t have words for that. We played very well, with concentration, now we are world champions! It was a great match.”
Norway beat Canada by 7-5 to take bronze. With last-stone advantage and, after blanking the first end, they scored two points in the second end before stealing a further two points in the third end for a 4-0 lead.
This left Canada with a mountain to climb but they eventually levelled the game at 5-5 with a steal of two points in the ninth end. However, Norway were able to see the game out, and scored two more points in the tenth end for their 7-5 win.