Russia Are World Wheelchair Curling Champions

Russia won the gold medal at the World Curling Wheelchair Championship 2012
in Chuncheon, South Korea on Saturday defeating hosts Korea 9-1 in the
final. The Koreans took the silver medal. China won the bronze medal,
winning their game against Slovakia 7-4.

In front of a home crowd at the Uiam Ice Rink, the Koreans (Skip Hak Sung
Kim, third Seoung Won Jung, second Mi-Suk Kang and lead Byeong Il Noh) took
their only point of the game in the first end. From then on, the Russians,
(Skip Andrey Smirnov, third Marat Romanov, second Aleksandr Shevchenko and
lead Svetlana Pakhomova) took advantage of missed shots by their opponents
to win the game.

In the third end, Russia stole three points when Kim was heavy with a hit
and roll and rolled out of the house. In the fourth end, Kim’s last stone
hit a guard and gave the Russian’s another two points. The Koreans shook
hands at the end of the seventh end, giving Russia the 2012 title.

“We feel very good, excellent actually, to have this win, we can’t wait to
get back to Moscow and the celebrations that we will have there!” said
Smirnov. “The Koreans gave us a hard game. It was not as simple as the score
looks. But we are very happy to win the gold medal.”

“Today’s game didn’t work out as well as we thought,” said Kim, “my team
were all a little tight, they couldn’t loosen up. Nervousness made our shots
go wrong and we didn’t make the shots we thought we would make, and we
really struggled.”

He added: “We need to try and read the ice a little better, that was
critical in this tournament. Second of all, our players need to learn how to
enjoy themselves more. If you concentrate too much on winning, then your
body tightens up so we need to learn how to relax. As a skip, I want to try
and make an environment where the players can relax a little more.”

KOR*1000 000X-1
RUS 0132 111X-9
*hammer/last stone first end

The Bronze medal game was between China (Skip Haitao Wang, third Wei Liu,
second Guangqin Xu and lead Qiang Zhang) and Slovakia (Skip Radoslav Duris,
third Branislav Jakubec, second Dusan Pitonak and lead Monika Kunkelova).
The outcome of the game was virtually decided in the fifth end when the
Chinese stole three points and led 7-2.

The Slovaks played on until the eighth end, picking up a further two points
in the seventh. With the score at 7-4, Slovakia needed four points for a win
or three points to tie. With a chance for the tie, Slovak Skip Radoslav
Duris tried to bury his first shot behind two Chinese guards but ended up
out in the open. Chinese Skip Haitao Wang made a take out to seal their 7-4

“The game is over at last! Now we can relax but we are very excited to have
won,” said Wang. “We feel great, but our goal is a gold medal in the

“We think we played quite well in seven of the ends, but when we lost three
points, this end ultimately led to the final outcome,” said Slovak Coach
Frantisek Pitonak.

He added: “First of all, qualification for next year’s event was our main
objective. Our biggest dream was to stay in the World Championships, which
meant finishing in eighth place or above. But then, our focus changed when
were playing better and better.”

CHN*0202 300X-7
SVK 1010 002X-4
*hammer/last stone first end

Hak Sung Kim, Skip of Team Korea, was awarded the 2012 World Wheelchair
Curling Championship Sportsmanship award. Kim was nominated by his fellow
competitors. They were all invited to nominate a player at the event who, in
their view, best exemplified the traditional values of skill, honesty, fair
play, sportsmanship and friendship.

World Wheelchair Curling Championship 2012 – Final Standings:
1. Russia 9-3 GOLD
2. Korea 8-3 SILVER
3. China 9-3 BRONZE
4. Slovakia 7-5
5. USA 6-4
6. Sweden 3-6*
7. Canada 3-6*
8. Scotland 3-6*
9. Norway 2-7
10. Italy 1-8
* teams are ranked according to their win-loss record against each other at
the event.

Russian Skip Andrey Smirnov has been part of the Russian Wheelchair curling
team since 2004. The 38 year old from Yekaterinburg began to skip in 2005.
His highest place finish prior to this championship was fourth at the World
Championships in Prague last year losing the bronze medal game to Norway.

Korean Skip Hak Sung Kim first skipped a Korean team at the World
Championships in 2004 in Sursee Switzerland. His best World Championship
performance ahead of this Championship was a silver medal finish in 2008,
once again in Sursee. He followed that with a Silver medal in Vancouver at
the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. While Korea competed at last year’s world
championship in Prague, it was not Kim’s team that represented their
country. Kim who celebrated his 44th birthday at the championships on
Thursday is from Wonju.

21 year old Chinese Skip Haitao Wang and his team started competing at
international level in 2008 – winning the World Wheelchair Curling
Qualification event to get to the 2009 World Championships in Vancouver
where they finished 8th. With not enough points make it to the Paralympics
in Vancouver in 2010, they had to qualify for the World Championships again.
Wang, who comes from near Harbin in China’s Heilongjiang Province, and his
team won the qualifier in November 2010 to get to Prague for the World
Championships in 2011 where they finished 5th.

Korea, Russia, China, Slovakia, USA, Sweden, Canada and Scotland have all
secured a place at the 2013 World Wheelchair Curling Championship which will
take place in Sochi, Russia from 16-23 February.

Norway and Italy are relegated to the World Wheelchair Curling Qualification
event which will be staged at the Kisakallio Sports Institute in Lohja,
Finland from 27 October to 3 November 2012. The top two teams at this event
will gain entry to the 2013 World Championship in Sochi.


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