Tallinn, Estonia -- Sweden (Photo: Richard Gray/WCF) have won the women's Le Gruyere AOP European Curling Championship 2018. This is the country's 20th women's European curling title and the very first for skip Anna Hasselborg and her team.
Hasselborg's team - third Sara McManus, second Agnes Knochenhauer, lead Sofia Mabergs and alternate Johanna Heldin - were runners-up at this event the past two years, but a well-crafted final end against their opponents, Switzerland, saw them score two points to seal their title-winning victory, 5-4.
The team, who are also the current Olympic champions, were coached by Canada?s Wayne Middaugh in Tallinn, Estonia this week. The Swiss silver medallists are skip Silvana Tirinzoni, fourth Alina Paetz, second Esther Neuenschwander, lead Melanie Barbezat and alternate Winkelhausen. Manuela Netzer is coach.
Sweden were always playing catch-up in this game and with their Swiss opponents starting with last stone advantage, they levelled the score three times ? at 1-1 after two ends, at 2-2 at the fifth-end break and at 3-3 after eight ends.
Until this final, Switzerland had gone through their championship programme undefeated.
Eventually, in the eighth end, rather than blank the end, the Swiss opted to play a nose-hit for one point to edge themselves into the lead again, at 4-3.
After this, despite being down on the scoreboard, Sweden did blank the ninth end to keep last stone advantage for the tenth. In the tenth end, their skip Hasselborg drew her first stone behind a wing guard. Switzerland's fourth player Paetz then attempted a straight raise on the guard but missed the target Swedish stone in the house, which now lay one. This gave Hasselborg an open draw to the eight-foot ring to score two points, take the lead for the only time in the game and claim a title that has eluded her until now.
This was a third successive appearance in the European final for Hasselborg's team and they have gone away with silver medals on the two previous occasions.
After the final, Hasselborg said: "I thought to myself, this time it's ours. It's funny that we had to take Olympic gold before European, but now I have this gold and I'm so proud."
"They started with hammer and we knew that if we could just have hammer in the tenth, that is what we're going for, so I'm very happy with how we controlled the scoreboard. It was such a tough game, Alina played so well and I'm just happy that I got the shot for the win."
Meanwhile, Swiss skip Tirinzoni said: "I feel a little bit empty right now. We played very well the whole week and now I was not able to play at my best in this last game which was so important. We'll probably need a few hours to get over this, but we've had a great week. It's still the silver medal which is nice."
Final women's results and standings
Gold game: Sweden 5-4 Switzerland
Bronze game: Germany 7-4 Russia
G Sweden (into world women's)
S Switzerland (into world women's)
B Germany (into world women's)
4 Russia (into world women's)
5 Latvia (into world women's)
6 Scotland (into world women's)
7 Denmark (world women's host)
8 Czech Republic (into world qualification event)
9 Finland (into world qualification event / relegated to 2019 B-Division)
10 Italy (relegated to 2019 B-Division)
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