Despite the global Omicron assault and swaths of sport competition cancellations and postponements, the World Curling Federation successfully hosted a qualifying competition for their 2022 men’s and women’s world championships in Lohja, Finland.
Denmark and Norway made it through the women’s draw and will travel to Prince George, BC in late March for the world women’s shootout. On the men’s side, Russia and the Netherlands will complete the field at the men’s worlds in Las Vegas, scheduled for April.
In the first women’s qualification match, Danish skip Madeleine Dupont—who has been battling a back injury in advance of the Olympic Winter Games—recovered from a Norwegian score of three in the fifth end to post an eventual 7-6 win.
“Of course we are really, really happy,” said Denmark’s Mathilde Halse. “This week has gone by so fast and we’re just happy to come out on top at the end of the week.”
The Norwegians had finished the round robin with a perfect 6-0 mark, which included a 7-4 win over the Danes, who finished at 5-1.
In the men’s final between Russia and Netherlands, Russia’s Sergey Glukhov—whose team will compete in Beijing for ROC, aka the Russian Olympic Committee—held a 4-1 lead after the fifth end. The teams traded single points for the second half of the game, until Glukhov ran Wouter Goesgens’ outfit out of stones for the 6-3 victory.
“It’s really exciting to win this match,” said Glukhov. “The whole week was really good for us. It was really good result in our preparations to the Olympic Games.”
The Russians had finished the round robin in top spot at 5-1, while Holland and Finland’s Kalle Kiiskinen each wound up 4-2.
In the second qualification game, Norway’s Marianne Roervik led Latvia’s Evelina Barone 4-3 at the halfway mark. The game took a pivotal turn when Norway stole three in the sixth end to take a 7-3 advantage. The final score was 8-6.
“We’re feeling really happy we reached out goal for this tournament,” said Roervik. “Our goal was to qualify for the worlds so that’s a lot of fun! Our normal fourth player—Kristin (Skaslien)—is going to the Olympics with mixed doubles so we hope that we will be even better in the worlds.”
In the men’s last chance final, it was a game of two halves, as Finland led the Netherlands 4-1 after five ends of play. The Dutch then scored five points in three straight ends to take the first lead of the game at 5-4. With a blank by the hosts in the ninth end, Netherlands put the pressure on in the final frame and this resulted in a steal of three points for a 9-4 scoreline.
“We’re really happy, we’ve had some tough losses after the last couple months, like getting to the Olympics,” said Goesgens. “But this makes our season a lot better, still qualifying for the worlds and now we can look ahead and get busy.”
The only COVID-19 scare came during entry testing, when one women’s team and another individual tested positive.