Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Thirty-rock end sends Swedish skip for a loop

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REGINA -- After struggling here on opening weekend at the World Men's Curling Championship, Norway's Thomas Ulsrud was happy to get in a little extra practice on Monday.

He just had no idea that it would come in the form of a 30-rock second end.

That's right -- 30-rock. Not the Manhattan building, not the TV show -- but a curling end in which 30 rocks were thrown.

How's that you say?

Here's the situation:

Ulsrud was playing Sweden's Niklas Edin on the afternoon draw here on Monday. The game was in the second end, Sweden had the hammer and there were all kinds of rocks in the house when Swedish third Sebastian Kraupp went to throw his last rock, only to have both the red and green lights flash on the handle.

A red light means a hogline violation, a green light means no violation and both lights flashing at once usually indicate a malfunction. The standard practice in that instance is to remove the rock from play immediately so that it can be tested and either removed from play as a hogline violation or rethrown.

But while his sweepers backed off, Edin allowed the flashing rock to continue into the house, where it moved two rocks in play before sliding out.

The rock was tested and found to be malfunctioning -- and Sweden wanted to rethrow the stone. But in order to do that, the two rocks that had been disturbed needed to be replaced first. And that's where the problem really started -- and the sporstmanship of curling was put on display.

"The correct decision would have been to replace the stones," explained Edin. "But the thing was I knew the angles but they (Norway) hadn't really looked at it that well. And so they didn't know exactly how to replace it. And so that didn't feel that good for me -- replacing it and then hitting the shot and lying three maybe.

"The angles were important for us... I knew the angles, but it didn't feel right to replace it when they didn't know the angles."

And so after an on-ice discussion that lasted more than 10 minutes and involved both coaches and an on-ice offical, the decision was made to kick all 14 rocks that had been played in the end back down to the other end and replay the entire end.

Which is exactly what they did -- and it did not serve Sweden well as Edin rolled out an open hit with his last rock of the replayed end and gave Ulsrud a steal of two and a 4-0 lead that proved decisive as Norway went on to win 8-5 and snap a two-game losing streak.

The victory improved Norway to 2-2, while Sweden fell to 3-2.

"This was a big win for us," said Ulsrud, the 2010 Olympic silver medallist. "After the first three games, I was not happy with how we played. But now, this is looking more like the Norway that I know."

An examination found the rock malfunctioned because of a bad battery -- something Edin said has been happening a lot this week. "If the handles were checked before the game, it wouldn't happen," Edin said.

Winnipeg's Eric Montford, one of two head icemakers here this week, said standard procedure was followed when all the handles were checked prior to this event and found to be in proper working order.

He said there have been several malfunctioning handles, but nothing extraordinary.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 5, 2011 C3

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