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Canada on to wheelchair curling semis

March 15, 2006
CBC Sports

Canada defeated Italy 5-3 in its final preliminary game of the wheelchair curling tournament at the Torino Paralympic Winter Games on Wednesday morning to secure a spot in the semifinals.

Canada, which finished atop the round-robin standings with a 5-2 record, will meet Norway in the semifinals on Friday.

Norway won two games on Wednesday to scrape into the playoffs.

The Norwegians closed out their round-robin schedule in the morning, edging Switzerland 5-4 to knock the Swiss out of playoff contention and set up an afternoon tie-breaker against Denmark, which was tied with Norway for fourth place.

Norway scored two in the final end to win the tie-breaker 4-3 and earn its semifinal date with Canada.

Canada defeated Norway 7-6 during round-robin play.

The other semifinal pits number-two seed Great Britain against number-three seed Sweden. The British defeated the United States 5-2 on Wednesday morning while the Swedes drubbed Denmark 10-2 to secure their spots in the semis.

Great Britian trounced Sweden 7-2 in the round-robin.

The semifinals will be played on Friday morning, with the winners moving on to the gold-medal game on Saturday and the losers meeting in the bronze-medal game on Friday afternoon.

Britain, Sweden, Norway and Denmark finished round-robin play with identical 4-3 records. Britain and Sweden gained automatic entry into the playoffs due to their 2-1 records in games between the four tied teams.

Norway and Denmark, which were both 1-2 in games between the tied teams, were left to square off for the fourth and final playoff spot.

The Canadian team, made up of skip Chris Daw, third Gerry Austgarden, second Gary Cormack, lead Sonja Gaudet and alternate Karen Blachford, jumped out to an early lead against Italy on Wednesday afternoon. Canada scored two in the first and added steals of one in the next two ends to take a 4-0 lead.

Italy made it interesting by picking up three points over the next two ends, but Canada sealed the game with a point in the sixth and final end to wrap up the 5-3 win.

The loss dropped Italy to 2-5, tied with the United States for the worst record in the eight-team tournament.

Wheelchair curling is making its Paralympic debut in Turin. The sport generally follows the same rules as Olympic curling, with a few notable exceptions: games consist of six ends rather than 10, teams must be comprised of male and female players, shooters may use an extender cue to deliver their rocks and no sweeping is allowed.

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