Men's Session 8 Roundup

Italy qualified for the ECC play-offs for the first time in 19 years Photo: WCF/Richard Gray

With their 8-7 win over Denmark in Wednesday morning's eighth session of men's round-robin play at the Le Gruyere European Curling Championships, Italy qualified for the play-off stages of a major championship for the first time since 1995.

Italy sealed their win when Denmark's skip Rasmus Stjerne could only remove one of two Italian stones in the tenth end of their game, giving them the steal of one point to win and qualify for European Curling Championships play-off stages for the first time in 19 years.

Remarkably, it was their National Coach, Claudio Pescia, who was the last Italian skip to lead his team to the European Curling Championships play-offs when they were held in Grindelwald, Switzerland in 1995.

The unfortunate consequence of this result for Denmark is that they are now relegated to the B Division of this event for the first time.

Afterwards, Italy's skip Joel Retornaz said: "It feels good. We have worked hard towards our goal which had changed for us - no longer to qualify for the world championship but to qualify for the play-offs. We are happy about qualifying for the play-offs. It was a nice comeback and a good fight, especially in the last three ends."

Meanwhile table-toppers Sweden continued their unbeaten run with a win over Scotland that was capped with a raise double take-out in the tenth end by skip Niklas Edin to score the three points needed for their 11-10 victory.

Speaking afterwards, Sweden's skip Niklas Edin said: "It was a spectacular game but not our best show. It came down to the last end and last stones and it was all-in for three from our side. We placed every rock perfectly and was lucky to get that shot for three."

Norway beat Germany by 8-2 while hosts and defending champions Switzerland had a 7-5 win over Latvia to share third place on the rankings and put themselves in pole position to join Sweden and Italy in the play-offs.

This latest defeat for Latvia however confirmed their relegation to the B Division.

After his win over Germany, Norway skip Thomas Ulsrud said: "We had a rough start, not up to our standards but at least we're still in it though. That was a good win after a big loss to Sweden last night which was a sore one."

The Czech Republic beat Russia by 6-4 and these two teams now share fifth place on four wins and four losses, just one win behind the third-ranked teams.

With the final round-robin game still to come, these are now the only two teams outside the current top four capable of forcing a tie-breaker for the remaining play-off slots.

Reflecting on the fact that his team still has hopes for the play-offs, Czech Republic skip Jiri Snitil said: "It feels great to get that win this morning."

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