Canada's wheelchair curlers down China after slow start
Canada, Russia still tied atop round-robin standings
By Jon Massie, CBC Sports Posted: Mar 11, 2014 11:34 AM ET Last Updated: Mar 11, 2014 11:52 AM ET
It was a case of better late than never for the Canadian wheelchair curling team on Tuesday.
After falling behind 4-0 through four ends against a hard-charging Chinese team, the Canadians finally broke out of their funk to steal three points in the fifth end, before really turning it on with four points in the seventh end en route to a come-from-behind 8-5 victory.
The win moved Canada back into a tie with Russia atop the round-robin standings. The two teams have identical 5-1 records with three games left to play. Russia had grabbed sole possession of first place earlier in the day with a 7-4 win over Sweden in Draw 7 play.
After sprinting to a 3-0 start to the 2014 Paralympic Games, the Canadian quartet of Sonja Gaudet, Dennis Thiessen, Ina Forrest and skip Jim Armstrong lost an 8-6 decision to Norway in its Draw 6 match on Monday, and looked to be in danger of a second straight defeat during Draw 8 at the Ice Cube Curling Center in Sochi.
The Chinese foursome, lead by skip Haitao Wang, played a patient game early on and methodically built up its lead by stealing a single point in each of the first four ends.
Armstrong wasn’t his usual steady self during the first half of the game, and failed to put any points on the board for his side until he hit his stride in the fifth end.
"It was frustrating out there, I was struggling," Armstrong said later. "I was ready to slit my throat, but if I had found a knife I probably would've missed."
With Canada trailing 4-3 in the sixth end, Wang’s rink scored an insurance point and seemed poised to pull off the upset.
The defending Paralympic champions had one more surprise up their sleeve, however, and dealt the Chinese squad a crushing blow with a four-point outburst in the seventh end. Canada stole a final point in the eighth and final end to complete the dramatic comeback.
"We gambled a bit on end five and again on six," Armstrong said. "We should have converted on six for a steal and got back into the game then but we made it on seven (by scoring four points to take a 7-4 lead)."
In other Draw 8 action, the U.S. beat Finland 7-6, Sweden downed Slovakia 9-3, and Great Britain defeated Norway 7-3.
Other Draw 7 results from morning play included a 13-4 trouncing of Great Britain by Finland and a 7-4 win by South Korea against Slovakia.
The top four teams, including ties, will advance to the semifinals to play for the medals.
Canada will play South Korea in Draw 9 on Wednesday, before wrapping up the round-robin portion of the event with games against Slovakia and Finland on Thursday.