WFG Continental Cup 2013: Day 1 Report

Team World will take a one point lead into day two of the 2013 World Financial Group Continental Cup after scoring five points, while Team North America scored four in the opening day of play at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton, Canada.

Canada's Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris performed well in the Mixed Doubles for Team North America Photo: WCF/CCA/Michael Burns

In the women’s team event this morning, Team World got off to a great start, dominating proceedings with two wins and a draw to take 2.5 points in total.

In their game against Team North America’s Heather Nedohin of Canada, Team World's Eve Muirhead scored three points in the first end to take a lead which they did not lose. Muirhead and her team from Scotland played confidently as they went on to win 8-3 and earn Team World one point.

After the game, Muirhead was pleased to get a win under her belt. She said: "That’s what we came out here to do this morning – get some points on the board." She added: "We got off to a really strong start, getting the three in the first end. Really, from then, especially when it is only eight-end games, that’s a big lead. We managed to hit them out the park and force ones when we could, so a good, solid start."

Team World scored their second point when, reigning world women's champion, Mirjam Ott from Switzerland, scored four points in the fourth end on route to a 9-7 win over Team North America's Allison Pottinger from the USA.

However it wasn’t to be three straight wins for Team World’s women’s teams. Canada’s Jennifer Jones drew to the four-foot to score two points in the eighth end to tie their game against Sweden’s Margaretha Sigfrisson 6-6 which meant both teams were awarded half a point each.

Afterwards, Jones, returning to competitive competition following the birth to her first child, said: "It felt great. I've been practising and it's been going really well, but to be in competition feels awesome, and to have a shot for the draw and get the adrenalin going is a great way to start the week for me."

Team North America improved their situation in the afternoon Mixed Doubles session. Canadian duo John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes earned a comfortable 10-3 victory over the Swedish pairing of Niklas Edin and Christina Bertrup.

After earning one point for Team North America with their win, John Morris said: "Team World had a good start this morning, so we were feeling the heat to get North America back in it.” He added: “Mixed doubles is a lot of fun and we knew that we had a good shot at it against some good Swedes."

The two other mixed doubles games came down to the last rock. Team North America's Heather Nedohin, from Canada, playing with the USA’s Dean Gemmell, made a draw to the button to tie their game 5-5 against the Scottish pairing of Eve Muirhead and Michael Goodfellow. This result gave both Team World and Team North America another 0.5 points each.

Afterwards Nedohin said: "Every game you go out there as a team you want to gain points. We've been told, and it's obvious, that half-points are great too. So a tie is good. We were celebrating Jen's tie this morning and we will go away with a point and a half this afternoon. Every point, every half-point is important."

In the other Mixed Doubles game this afternoon, Team North America's Allison Pottinger, from the USA, partnered with Canada’s Marc Kennedy. But it was the American who missed a crucial draw to the four-foot in the last end which would have gave them victory. Her miss handed Norway’s Christoffer Svae and Switzerland’s Carmen Schäfer a steal of two points to end the game at 8-7, giving Team World another important point.

In the evening session Team North America cut Team World’s deficit to only one point as the men’s teams faced up to each other.

European champions, Niklas Edin and his team, fought out a tight game against Team North America’s Heath McCormick from the USA. The lead changed hands throughout the game, however that changed in the sixth end when McCormick, leading 6-4 at the time, clipped a guard with his last stone. This let Edin and his team get back into the game with a score of three points to give them a 7-6 advantage. Although the game remained close, Edin and his team held on to win 8-7 and gain Team World’s only point of the evening.

After the first day of play, Edin reflected: “It’s really important (for Team World to lead after the first day of play). On paper, they (Team North America) have so many strong players and so many good teams, so I think it’s really important for us to have a lead and build confidence throughout the whole squad, so we’re in a good position I think.”

Glenn Howard showed why he is current world champion after beating Thomas Ulsrud’s Norwegian team. The pivotal moment came in the seventh end when Norway lead, Håvard Vad Petersson, was short with his second stone, which stopped before the hog line and was removed from play.

Thomas Ulsrud then gave Glen Howard another advantage in this end when, with his last stone, his attempted take-out clipped an opposing scoring stone, giving Howard the opportunity to make a simple draw for three points and a 5-3 lead. This proved to be crucial going into the final end where Howard made a perfect double take-out with his last stone to help him steal one point, a 6-3 victory and another crucial point for Team North America.

Elsewhere, Kevin Martin made an in-turn draw to the four-foot in the final end to beat Team World's Tom Brewster, from Scotland, 4-3 and earn one point for Team North America. This left the scores after day one at the World Financial Group Continental Cup 5-4 in Team World’s favour.

This year’s event sees a new points system being used. A total of 60 points is now available meaning the side which earns more than 30 points will be declared the champion.

For the six Mixed Doubles and six Singles matches, one point will be awarded for each victory, one-half point if tied). There will now be 18 team games (nine men’s and nine women’s) played, instead of the previous 12, each worth one point for a win, one-half point for a tie.

All games are eight ends and there are no extra ends. There will also be six Skins games (two mixed, two women’s and two men’s) now offering a total of five points per game, with the first six ends of each game worth one-half point each, while the seventh and eighth ends are worth one point each. In skins, a count of at least two with last rock or a steal is required in order to win an end. Otherwise, the points carry over.

The winning side receives $52,000 Cdn ($2,000 per member, including captain and coach), while the losing side gets $26,000 ($1,000 per member, including captain and coach). As well, the side which generates the highest points total from the six Skins games will receive an additional $13,000 ($500 per player, plus captain and coach).

The Canadian Sports broadcaster, TSN, will provide complete coverage of the Cup inside Canada and this coverage will be available to curling fans outside Canada to enjoy via the World Curling Federation website: http://www.worldcurling.org/world-financial-group-continental-cup-2013-web-coverage

The World Financial Group Continental Cup, which will be staged in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA in 2014 (16-19 January), is a joint venture of the Canadian Curling Association, World Curling Federation and United States Curling Association.

RESULTS
THURSDAY, Jan. 10

Women's Teams

Sheet A:
Team North America (Allison Pottinger, USA) 7
Team World (Mirjam Ott, Switzerland) 9

Sheet B:
Team North America (Heather Nedohin, Canada) 3
Team World (Eve Muirhead, Scotland) 8.

Sheet C:
Team North America (Jennifer Jones, Canada) 6
Team World (Margaretha Sigfridsson, Sweden) 6

Total Points after session 1:
Team North America 0.5
Team World 2.5

Mixed Doubles

Sheet A:
Team North America (Allison Pottinger, USA and Marc Kennedy, Canada) 7
Team World (Carmen Schäfer, Switzerland and Christoffer Svae, Norway) 8

Sheet B:
Team North America (Heather Nedohin, Canada and Dean Gemmell USA) 5
Team World (Eve Muirhead and Michael Goodfellow, both Scotland) 5

Sheet C:
Team North America (Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris, both Canada) 10
Team World (Christina Bertrup and Niklas Edin, both Sweden) 3

Total Points after session 2:
Team North America 2
Team World 4

Men's Teams

Sheet A:
Team North America (Heath McCormick, USA) 7
Team World (Niklas Edin, Sweden) 8

Sheet B:
Team North America (Glenn Howard, Canada) 6
Team World (Thomas Ulsrud, Norway) 3

Sheet C:
Team North America (Kevin Martin, Canada) 4
Team World (Tom Brewster, Scotland) 3

Total Points after session 3:
Team North America 4
Team World 5

Schedule (for Friday and Saturday):
http://www.worldcurling.org/wfg-continental-cup-2013-matchups-revealed

Tickets:
For ticket and event information, visit: www.curling.ca/championships/continentalcup.