By Emily Goddard

norway wheelchair curling squad 15-11-12November 14 - Norway and Finland have qualified for the 2013 World Wheelchair Curling Championship following the final day of play at the qualification tournament.

The Scandinavian nations will join defending champions and host nation Russia at next year's showpiece event, as well as South Korea, China, Slovakia, United States, Scotland, Canada and Sweden who have already qualified for this event based on final rankings at the 2012 competition.

Norway (pictured top) were first to qualify after defeating hosts Finland 8-3 in the 1v2 playoff.

Norway skip Rune Lorentsen and his team of Jostein Stordahl, Sissel Løchen and Terje Rafdal, led from the first end onwards.

Recent victories over Finland provided them with the confidence to steal five points in the first three ends, and although Finland managed scores of one point in the fourth, fifth and seventh ends, they could not get back into the game after Norway took another three points in the sixth end.

"It feels fantastic to have won," Lorentsen said.

"We knew before this match that we were the only team to have beaten Finland, so we had a good feeling going into this game.

"We have met Finland four times this autumn and we have won all of them, so they don't like to meet us.

"We pushed ourselves today.

"We didn't let ourselves relax and did our best every end.

"We tried not to do too many take-outs and instead keep many stones in play, if we could.

"We got in front early and could relax from there on."

finland wheelchair curling squad 15-11-12Finland will join Norway, Russia, Korea, China, Slovakia, United States, Scotland, Canada and Sweden at the 2013 World Wheelchair Curling Championship

Meanwhile, Finland played Italy in the final playoff of the event following Italy's 3v4 playoff win against Latvia earlier in the day.

Both Finland and Italy showed signs of nerves and were unwilling to take risks early on and it was not until the sixth end that a missed takeout allowed Finland to score three points.

Although the game remained tight until the end, Finland held on to secure their place at the World Championship being held in Sochi – host of the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games – next year.

After the game, Vesa Hellman, who skipped the Finnish team of Markku Karjalainen, Sari Karjalainen and Tuomo Aarnikka, said: "Italy was a great team to play against and we are so happy about this win.

"The level in this year's qualification was so high that I think we have a good chance of doing well in the World Championships if we continue to improve.

"Our goal there is finish in fourth place or higher so that we still have a chance to qualify for the Paralympics in Sochi, but we know it will be very difficult as there will be so many good teams there."

The 2013 World Wheelchair Curling Championship will be held from February 16 to 23 at the Sochi Ice Cube Curling Centre.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

elated stories
November 2012: Wheelchair curling teams aim for World Championship qualification in Finland