January 13, 2012
Team World has extended their lead to 66 points over Team North America with 42 after the second day of competition at the 2012 World Financial Group Continental Cup in Langley, Canada.
But there is still all to play for as the big points-winning games begin in earnest on Saturday.
“It’s very close still so it makes it exciting for the fans and the curlers,” resumed Team North America Captain Julie Skinner. “But if we asked the players they would probably say they weren’t performing up to their best just yet, but it is a long four days so we are hoping to learn from our performance and hopefully improve. There’s a lot more points left on the table.”
Team North America has yet to win a round outright in this year’s event which pitches the top curlers in North America against the best players in the rest of the world.
Following an exciting round of men’s team games on Friday evening, Team World Captain David Hay said: “it looked like we would get all 18 points but then we slipped back. In the end we are delighted to split the points with the North Americans - nine points each - because we could have been in a lot of trouble there.”
And it was Sweden’s Niklas Edin who got in trouble when he lost a 4-1 lead over Canada’s Glenn Howard. Edin missed his last stone take-out in the sixth end to let Howard make a raise-back to get four shots and a 5-4 lead in the game for the first time. A steal of one in the seventh end sealed a 6-4 win for Howard and North America.
Pete Fenson and his US team got off to a great start with a deuce in the first end and kept the game over Thomas Ulsrud’s European Champions from Norway throughout. The North Americans played very solidly and held Ulsrud to a 4-2 deficit with last stone advantage going home in the eighth end. Ulsrud grabbed two in the eighth end with his last stone take-out for what had looked an unlikely 4-4 tied result.
“It was not easy at all,” said Ulsrud after the game. “A draw for us here felt like a victory, we were struggling straight out of the gates. He was ahead for the whole game and we managed to tie it up – so that’s a good feeling for us. But I know the feeling Pete Fenson has now, it was the same feeling for us yesterday against Glenn Howard.”
The only bright light for Team World came from the Scots. Tom Brewster got a 3-0 advantage over Winnipeg’s Jeff Stoughton after two ends, but gave up the lead losing three in the third end. Two more shots in the fourth end put them ahead again, but Stoughton never gave up and got back to a 6-6 tied game after the seventh end. Brewster managed to keep things clear going down the last and had a straightforward draw for one and a 7-6 win.
In the afternoon’s mixed doubles games, Team World swept up all the points (18 in total).
Scotland’s Eve Muirhead showed her strength when she teamed up with Sweden’s Fredrik Lindberg to jump to a 4-0 lead after two ends stealing two points in the second end. The advantage moved to 7-0 by the fourth end break. North America’s Ben Hebert and Stefanie Lawton staged a great fightback but they eventually lost out 8-7.
Scotland’s Greg Drummond and Anna Sloan also led early in the game with a 5-1 score at the break. They were facing Amber Holland (Canada) and Joe Polo (USA) and although the North American duo narrowed the score to 7-5 after seven ends, again the advantage was too great for them.
“I wouldn’t say I am experienced at the game” said Sloan who admitted afterwards that it was only the second time she had played mixed doubles. “But we managed to get up early and keep going and make sure that they were always chasing.”
China’s Bingyu Wang and Torger Nergård (Norway) defeated Canada’s Craig Savill and Patti Lank (USA) in the third game. This was a tighter affair with Team World holding only a one shot 5-4 advantage going into the final end, but crucially they had the last stone and they ran the North Americans out of shots.
“We were making more shots than the others I guess and there was some luck of course,” said Nergård after the win. “It’s important to get the lead I think. Then the other ones have to make an extra effort to make the extra points.”
In the morning’s women’s team game session, a steal of three shots in the fifth end for the US team skipped by Patti Lank looked like the end for two-time Olympic gold medallist, Anette Norberg and her team from Sweden. But the Swedes hit back right away in the sixth end taking three points to tie the game at 5-5. Three further points in the seventh end gave Lank an 8-5 advantage which was too much for Norberg, who recorded her second consecutive defeat to the North Americans.
“We’re not making the key shots and that’s the way it’s been all season and it was the same this game,” said Norberg afterwards.
Team World’s Scottish foursome skipped by Eve Muirhead were involved in a tight encounter with Stefanie Lawton’s Saskatoon squad. Single points were traded back and forth. Lawton held last stone advantage in the closing end and was not able to convert it into a deuce and could only tie the game at 3-3.
The third game matched Amber Holland (North America) against China’s Bingyu Wang. The teams were tied 4-4 coming home in the eighth end which Wang kept clear to post a two for a 6-4 victory and 6 points for Team World.
Wang was delighted with the win: “I think it’s the first time we beat Amber Holland – we lost to them twice in the worlds last year.”
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.