Finns prep in Amherst for worlds

Darrell Cole
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AMHERST - Kalle Kiiskinen knows what it takes to be successful on the world curling stage.
As his Finnish squad prepares for the Ford World Men's Curling Championship in Moncton, the 33-year-old skip is hoping for a return to the medal podium three years after Finland won a silver medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics.
"Our plan is to play quite aggressive and take advantage of our opportunities. We like to play aggressive," Kiiskinen said while taking a break from an afternoon practice session at the Amherst Curling Club on Monday. "We'll have a pretty good idea of where we stand after the weekend draws."
Kiiskinen's squad is in Amherst through Thursday, when they will depart for Moncton. They will practice at the Moncton Coliseum on Friday before opening tournmanet play Saturday at 3 p.m., against the Czech Republic, skipped by Jiri Snitil. They also play Norway at 7:30 p.m.
"It's good to get a bit of practice in before the competition begins because we live far away from Canada and there's quite a time difference," Kisskinen said. "As well, conditions in Finland for curling are not as good as they are in Canada. It's good to be on good ice."
The team will practice again today at the curling club before playing former New Brunswick champion Charlie Sullivan at 6 p.m., in an exhibition tilt that will also feature Amherst's Becky Atkinson playing with the Sullivan rink.
Practices continue Wednesday with a second exhibition tilt against a group of Amherst curlers at 6 p.m.
All events are open to the public with admission being a donation to the Amherst Food Assistance Network.
Joining Kiiskinen on the team are third Jani Sullanmaa, second Temmu Salo, lead stone Jari Rouvinen and alternate Juha Pekaristo.
The team is coached by Paavo Kuosmanen.
Most of the team took about 30 hours to get to Amherst from Helsinki, and Kisskinen said the team battled a bit of fatigue when it first hit the ice in Amherst on Monday.
However, he said, they will be ready when the world championship begins.
Team Finland is a veteran group with lots of world championship experience.
While the team did not qualify for last year's world tournament in Grand Forks, N.D., it went 6-5 and finished sixth in Edmonton two years ago and was also 6-5 in Lowell, Mass., in 2006.
It was that year that Kisskinen and his teammates, Salo and Sullaanmaa, were members of the team in Turin, skipped by Markku Uusipaavalniemi, that lost to Canada's Brad Gushue in the gold-medal game.
Kisskinen threw third stone for the Uusipaavalniemi rink while Salo was lead stone and Sullanmaa was an alternate.
"Teemu and I have been curling together for 20 years and have played in five world championships before. The rest of the guys played with us in Lowell and Edmonton," he said.

Organizations: Ford World Men, Amherst Curling Club, Amherst Food Assistance Network

Geographic location: Amherst, Finland, Moncton Canada Czech Republic Norway Edmonton New Brunswick Helsinki Grand Forks, N.D. Lowell, Mass. Turin Lowell

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