With a day of play still to go, Team North America reached 217 points on Saturday night to win the 2011 World Financial Group Continental Cup in St Albert, Canada.
In the evening Skins round, Team North America won all three games and scooped up a total of 62 points to take them over the 201 point threshold to win their fourth title in the history of the event. Team World finished the round on 73 points. Now the two 55 point Skins games on Sunday will be played for show, with the winner of the Men's Skins game picking up $13,000 Cdn.
Speaking about the win, Team North America Coach Rick Lang said: "in a sense it's a premature ending but on the other hand it got really exciting for the crowd when it comes right down to the last rock like that."
It started in the eighth end of the women's Skins game between Canada's Jennifer Jones and Team World's Mirjam Ott from Switzerland, when Jones stole a 22-point Skin to win 22-8.
Next, it was Canada's Kevin Koe, who stole an eighth end Skin, worth nine points, to defeat Sweden's Niklas Edin, 21-9.
Finally, in the Mixed Skins game between teams skipped by Canada's John Morris and Scotland's David Murdoch, it was Morris who stole the nine point Skin to claim a 19-11 decision, after the game had ended with a carryover. The skips then drew to the button to determine the winner, with Morris having the better result.
"It was some tough last minutes for us, it was devastating for us," said Team World Coach Peja Lindholm. "They were a lot better than us, we just have to accept that. We just didn't perform as well as I know we can. When we are on the top level of our game we play really well, but there were too many errors. Our goal was to keep the Cup alive until the last game tomorrow but we couldn't do that so that is tough. I haven't had time to tell the team yet - but the new goal is to win the day tomorrow!"
In the afternoon Singles round, Team North America picked up 14 points plus a bonus of 8 for achieving the highest aggregate score (108 compared to Team World's 96). Team World got 10 points to add to their overall total.
In the Singles event individual team members had to make a series of tricky curling shots: a run through, a draw through a port, a raise, hit and roll and double take out. The highest points being awarded for getting the played or raised stone actually on the button in the middle of the house.
In the morning 'A' Skins games Team North America won two of the three matches.
Kevin Koe and his mixed team line up of Canadians (Nolan Thiessen, Susan O'Connor and Cori Morris) beat Team World's mixed team skipped by Thomas Ulsrud from Norway (Carmen Schäfer from Switzerland, Sweden's Niklas Edin and Yin Liu from China) 20-0.
"It was fun to make a contribution to our cause," said Team North America's Erika Brown after her team from the US also chalked up 20-0 against Team World's Andrea Schöpp from Germany. "With skins, there are a lot more rocks in play. You can be so aggressive, and take some chances," added Brown.
Only Scotland's David Murdoch and his all star team of Ralph Stöckli and Simon Strübin from Switzerland and Andreas Lang from Germany mustered a win for Team World, gathering 17 points against Pete Fenson from the US who notched up 3.
"You have to think, think, think" joked Scottish Skip David Murdoch after the game. "It really does hurt your head after a while...I'm really going to need to get some aspirin! It [Skins] is a great format. I really enjoy it and it makes you have to think differently, outside the box and you have to think a lot more stones ahead than in normal curling."
In the Skins discipline, teams must either score two points with the hammer (last stone advantage) or steal in order to collect the points allotted per end; otherwise, points are carried over.
The 2011 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Monsanto, brings together twelve of the best curling teams in the world (six representing Team World, six representing Team North America).
A total of 400 points is available from four types of curling competition - Team Games (72 points), Mixed Doubles (36 points), Singles (32 points) and Skins (260 points). Each segment awards points for wins (or ties). The first side to reach 201 points is declared the winner.
This year, Team North America, the winning side, receives $52,000 Cdn ($2,000 per member, including captain and coach), while the losing side - Team World - gets $26,000 ($1,000 per member, including captain and coach. The side which wins the final Men's Skins game on Sunday will receive an additional $13,000. This game sees Team World's Thomas Ulsrud from Norway take on Team North America's Kevin Martin in a repeat of the final from the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
North America won the inaugural Continental Cup in 2002 (in Regina, Canada), in 2004 and 2007 (both in Medicine Hat, Canada). Team World (then known as Team Europe) won in 2003 (in Thunder Bay, Canada), 2006 (in Chilliwack, Canada) and 2008 (in Camrose, Canada).
In Canada live coverage of the event can be seen on TSN and in collaboration with the World Curling Federation, this coverage can be seen by the rest of the world on the WCF website:
The World Financial Group Continental Cup is a joint venture between the Canadian Curling Association, World Curling Federation and United States Curling Association.