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World Financial Group Continental Cup 2012 Day 1 Update

Team World takes narrow lead Photo: WCF/CCA/Michael Burns

Team World has 30 points and Team North America 24 points after the first day of curling at the 2012 World Financial Group Continental Cup in Langley Events Centre in British Columbia, Canada.

“It’s going to be pretty tight,” said Scotland’s Tom Brewster after skipping his team to a 7-1 win over America’s Pete Fenson in the evening men’s team session and securing Team World a further 6 points. “I think we are going to be pretty much evenly matched. It just comes down to who makes the shots on the day. Most games have been pretty tight – one end here or there.”

Sweden’s Niklas Edin struggled against the reigning World Men’s Champions. Canada’s Jeff Stoughton piled on the pressure. Edin gave up four in the fourth end with a failed draw attempt. Canada ran out 8-3 winners and gained 6 points for Team North America.

In the third game of evening play, European champion Thomas Ulsrud (Norway) had Canada’s Glenn Howard on the run. In the last end, Norway seemed in control, but eventually Howard was left with a controlled weight double take out, which he made to perfection, to tie the game up at 4-4 and split the points 3 apiece between the two sides.

“I’ve never been so happy to tie a game in my life!” exclaimed Howard on leaving the ice, “that was fun and that’s the beauty of that rule of the tie, not that I condone it. We knew that if we could force Thomas in seven to get his one, we would have a real good opportunity for two – and if we get our two – we tie!”

In the afternoon’s Mixed Doubles session Ulsrud and Cissi Östlund (Sweden) had a disastrous second end when they played several draw shots too long against Shawn Rojeski (USA) and Marliese Kasner (Canada) and gave up four points. But they bounced right back with a draw from Östlund for four in the third end, edging them ahead 5-4. The game went right down to last stone with Östlund drawing to the button with backing to secure a 9-9 tie. (3 points for each team).

Sweden’s Anette Norberg and Sebastian Kraupp grabbed a moral boosting five points in the second end when Norberg had a free draw against Canada’s Reid Carruthers and Kim Schneider. Stolen single points in the fourth and fifth ends allowed Team North America to get back into the game but the Swedes eventually edged away to an 8-4 win. (Team World – 6 points).

“It’s good for our confidence to win a game,” said Kraupp afterwards. “Mixed Doubles is a really tough game. We were up four in the second end. If you play a regular game, you would be confident that you might win the game with that, but here, they stole and stole. You have to keep playing really good shots right until the end. You never know what’s going to happen!”

In the third game Brewster (Scotland) and Qingshuang Yue (China) struggled throughout against Canada’s Wayne Middaugh and Nina Spatola (USA). After loose play in the third end, they lost a four to go behind 6–1. Crawling their way back into the game, Brewster was left with a double take-out for two shots to tie the game 7-7. (3 points for each team).

“I’m so tired!” said Qingshuang Yue after the game. This was the first time that she had played Mixed Doubles Curling. She said it was very tiring to throw and sweep all the time. She said it was a different type of skill that was required but she enjoyed it.

In the morning’s women’s team games two-time Olympic gold medal winner and reigning World Champion Anette Norberg and her Swedish team came unstuck and allowed Canada’s Stefanie Lawton and her squad from Saskatoon to steal four points and lead by 6-1 at the fourth end break. The Swedes gambled everything in the sixth end but it all went wrong and they lost another four points. Norberg eventually went down 11-3. (Team North America – 6 points)

Afterwards, a delighted Lawton said: “We played strong out there, we had a fairly simple game to start and then we snuck a steal of four in there and it turned the game around. The line of Anette’s shots just didn’t work out.”

In the other two women’s clashes, Scotland’s Eve Muirhead, fresh from victory at the European Championships in Moscow last month, tied up her game 5-5 against Canada’s Amber Holland, silver medallist at last year’s World Championships in Denmark. (3 points for each team).

“To be able to play in this event is massive for all of us,” said Muirhead who is playing her first Continental Cup. “It’s the biggest team event in the world in curling. The first game can always be a bit nervy. But ice conditions out there are first class. A draw is not a win – but it is still some points for us.”

Team World got the six points available in the third match-up between Bingyu Wang (China) and the US representatives skipped by veteran Patti Lank. It was the steal of three points in the sixth end that sealed the victory for Team World, the final score 6–5 in favour of Wang.

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.

North America won the inaugural Continental Cup in 2002 (in Regina, Canada), in 2004 and 2007 (both in Medicine Hat, Canada) and last year, 2011, in St Albert. Team World (then known as Team Europe) won in 2003 (in Thunder Bay, Canada), 2006 (in Chilliwack, Canada) and 2008 (in Camrose, Canada).

The Canadian TV broadcaster TSN (RDS in Quebec) is providing live coverage of the World Financial Group Continental Cup, for viewers in Canada. And, in association with the World Curling Federation, TSN is providing web-streamed coverage to viewers outside Canada on the WCF website: http://www.worldcurling.org/world-financial-group-continental-cup-2012-web-coverage
Results are here: www.curling.ca/championships/continentalcup/scores-and-results/

This year, the winning side will earn 52,000 CDN$ in prize money with the losing team receiving $26,000 divided amongst the athletes, captains and coaches. An additional $13,000 will go to the winning side of the final men's skins game.

The World Financial Group Continental Cup is a joint venture between the Canadian Curling Association, World Curling Federation and United States Curling Association.