Semi-finals Roundup

Russia women defeated Denmark to progress to the gold medal game Photo: WCF/Richard Gray

Norway men and Russia women have qualified for the gold medal games after winning their semi-finals at the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships 2014 being held in the Palladium de Champéry in Champéry, Switzerland.

Reigning world champions Norway will play Sweden in Saturday's men's final of the Le Gruyere European Curling Championships following their 7-6 win over Italy in Friday afternoon's semi-final.

The Norwegians gave themselves a clear advantage in the fifth end, when skip Thomas Ulsrud drew his second stone into the house to score three points and take a 5-1 lead.

Italy fought back with a score of two points in the sixth end but a single point in the seventh end followed up by a single point steal in the eighth end kept the Norwegians in front.

In the tenth end, Ulsrud played a hit and stay to give Italy just one point from the end, but it was Norway who won, by 7-6.

This win keeps Ulsrud's self-proclaimed dream alive - of holding both the World and European titles at the same time.

Speaking after his win, Ulsrud said: "We were able to take control early in the game with 5-1 going into the break. It’s hard to come back against us. We played it safe and we managed to be two up coming home with hammer and we were looking good."

Looking forward to the gold medal game with Sweden, he added: "Sweden haven't lost a game and they have been looking strong all week. We played them in the round-robin and were leading before the break, but we played a couple of bad shots after the break."

Before the gold medal final, Italy will now play defending champions Switzerland for bronze medals.

In the women's semi-final, Russia started strongly against Denmark, with skip Anna Sidorova hitting to score two points in the first end.

In the sixth end, Sidorova produced a precision double take-out to score three points for a 7-3 lead.

An umpire's measure gave Russia a single point in the eighth end to move their lead to 8-4, and, in the ninth end, Denmark skip Lene Nielsen tried a double take-out, but one of the Russian stones jammed on the way out to give Russia a steal of one point and a 9-4 lead, at which point Denmark conceded.

Russia now face world champions Switzerland in Saturday morning's gold medal game, while Denmark will play Scotland for bronze medals on Friday evening.

After her win, Sidorova said: “This is the second time I've reached the final and it was really important for us to make a comeback from our last game (a loss to Switzerland in the 1v2 Page play-off) and show that we are able to win. Last time when we played in the final (in 2012) we were really relaxed because we didn't want to win it that much. But of course, as the game went on we really wanted to win it. Now it's a second chance for me to win this Championship and prove to everyone that our first win was not just lucky. We're here to prove to ourselves that we're able to win."

In the B Division, Finland men won gold after defeating Netherland's 7-6 in an extra end.

They will now play Germany in a best of three games World Challenge series to determine the final European zone place at the Ford World Men's Curling Championship 2015 in Halifax, Canada.

Netherland's picked up the silver medals while England won bronze as they beat Hungary 8-5 after nine ends of play.

In the women's B Division, Norway won gold as they defeated Hungary 10-6. They will now go on to play Estonia for the last European zone place in the World Women's Curling Championship 2015 which will be played in Sapporo, Japan.

With Hungary taking silver, Italy won the bronze medals as they beat Austria 10-2 after eight ends of play.

The A Division bronze medal games and the first of the three World Challenge series games for the men and women all begin at 19:30 local time (CET) on Friday night.

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