Friday, April 08, 2011

Despite appearances....
( Tie-Breaker: France vs. Norway)

I arrived at the arena midway through the fifth end. What I saw was Ulsrud of Norway make a gentle draw to score two after France's penultimate stone drifted through the rings. And after France blanked the sixth end, Norway has made some superb shots (including another nestling draw by Ulsrud) in the seventh end.

France has the hammer with a tied score, and overall, France is curling only very marginally better than Norway. But from what I've seen since I have been here, Norway seems to be in control of the game. In the 7th end, this sense was confirmed as Norway's shots were precise, but France's shots all seemed a bit off; and FR was forced to hit and stick for one. FR 3, NO 2.

End 8.
FR forced NO to take one in the 8th with deft placement of stones in the rings. So FR has the hammer in the 9th with the score tied.

End 9.Norway has three rocks in the house, and FR just drew in but is open. It looks as if FR's goal isn't going to be to blank the end. But I spoke too soon as Angibous cleared the rings with one spectacular shot. Norway still has a corner guard for Ulsrud to draw around, though, which he does perfectly to the back 12'. Angibous tries a run-back double using the guard, but misses. Steal of one for Norway. NO 4, FR 3.

End 10.
FR is down one with the hammer, and it isn't surprising to see that Norway has edged ahead of FR in curling percentages, too. Standard centre opening, but NO's rocks are not lined up on the centre line, leading to FR decision to draw up to them. Guard, peel, etc. Finally FR tries to go around the NO rocks and draw to the button, but drifts a bit deep. NO tries to freeze to the back FR stone, but undercurls and is side frozen, if anything. FR tries to double off the two NO stones that had been put in the top4' and button by the NO lead, but removes only one and loses the shooter, too. Ulsrud tried to hit and roll to the button but rolled to the outer 12'. FR is lying one, but a freeze attempt is light and overcurls, wrecking on the NO rock in the top4'. Ulsrud draws to the back of the button, almost frozen. FR has little option but to draw for 1. NO 4, FR 4. Extra end!

End 11.
NO has the hammer and the advantage in the extra end. It has been close through 10, but my sense has consistently been that NO has the advantage. Indeed, the curling percentages are NO 87, FR 85, and Ulsrud is curling 94%.

There are three corner guards in play, so NO still has a clear shot at the center of the house as we're into Vice stones. NO peels a guard, couldn't double off a FR stone at the back of the house. Repeat. FR draws to the button with their last rock. Ulsrud must hit and stay in the 8' to win. He does. FR is eliminated, and NO faces Sweden tomorrow.



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