January 14, 2012
In a suspense-filled evening session at the 2012 World Financial Group Continental Cup in Langley, Canada, Team World reached a total of 170 points and is now only 31 points short of the 201 needed to win the 2012 title. Team North America has 120 points.
The evening Skins games, where 90 points were up for grabs (30 for each game), went down to the wire for both teams.
“It was up and down like crazy,” said North American Coach Rick Lang afterwards. “It looked really good for us for a while, then, all of a sudden, we knew the next half hour was going to be critical to whether we had a chance to win this thing or not. It didn’t go the way we needed it to go. So we’ll need some heroic efforts tomorrow.”
In the Skins curling 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.
By the seventh end of the Women’s Skins game between Canada’s Amber Holland and Scotland’s Eve Muirhead thirteen points were at stake with the score locked at 4-4. Muirhead found herself in big trouble when an attempted draw against three came up short allowing Holland a draw to the eight foot for the thirteen points. Holland was heavy and the carry over meant that twenty two points were left to contest in the final end with Muirhead holding last stone advantage. Muirhead managed to pick up her deuce for the win. Final score: 26-4 for Team World.
The Mixed Skins game pitched Canada’s Jeff Stoughton and his regular teamate Jon Mead in a foursome with the US mother / daughter combination of Patti and Mackenzie Lank. They faced Thomas Ulsrud (Norway), Bingyu Wang, China’s women’s regular skip, Scotland’s Greg Drummond and Sweden’s Sara Carlsson. Between them they failed to get a skin in the first five ends leading to a carryover of fifteen points being contested in the sixth end. Stoughton was left with an open hit for a deuce and the fifteen points went the way of North America. The points carried over in the seventh end. In the final end, Ulsrud got a stone well covered to give hope of fifteen points. It proved good enough when Stoughton failed with a raised take-out attempt, the score finishing at 15-15.
Niklas Edin jumped to a five point advantage for the World Team scoring points at each of the first three ends in the Men’s Skins before Glenn Howard turned the game around with a six point score in the fifth end and five more in the sixth for a 10-5 lead. With the other two games over, Howard salvaged some pride for the North Americans with a raise for three shots which converted to a 25-5 win.
Reflecting on the outcome of the day’s games, Team World Coach Peja Lindholm said: “It’s important when we are in such a lead as we are, to take every point that we can, so you have to be smart and calculate the risks with every shot.”
Tomorrow are the big points-winning Skins games – with 55 points at stake. Team World’s Bingyu Wang meets North America’s Stefanie Lawton in the Women’s Skins.
“We trust Betty [Wang],” said Lindholm about the game tomorrow and joked: “she talks Chinese and we don’t understand a thing! – so she just goes out there and executes! but I have good confidence in Betty’s team and I am sure they are going to give us some points that would help us win before the men’s game – that would be perfect. Otherwise, we have a very well-experienced team going out there for the last skins game. I would say it looks very very good for us.”
In the final Men’s skins game Norway’s Team Ulsrud will play for Team World against Canada’s Jeff Stoughton for team North America.
In the afternoon’s Singles challenge, Team World maintained their dominance in the women’s competition. In this session of the event, individual team members have to make a series of tricky curling shots: a run through, a draw to the button and a draw through a port, a raise, a hit and roll and a double take out. Higher points are awarded for getting the played or raised stone actually on the button in the middle of the house.
The best women’s score was achieved by Team World’s Bingyu Wang with an overall count of 21 points from the 30 available. Their opponents from North America were Stefanie Lawton who managed 20 points, but still lost. Scotland’s Eve Muirhead downed Amber Holland (Canada) with a 15-11 count. Team World’s Anette Norberg won the third women’s singles game 19-11 against the US’s Patti Lank. The World team had a clean sweep with three straight wins and picked up 4 points per win to add to their overall total.
In the Men’s singles challenge, Pete Fenson, from the US, had a narrow 15-14 win over Sweden’s Niklas Edin, to secure Team North America 4 points. Canada’s Jeff Stoughton gathered a further 4 points for Team North America after his team scored 25 out of 30 available against Tom Brewster who’s Scottish side mustered 16 points. In the third game, Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud made two perfect draws for 10 points and led his World team to an overall score of 17 against Canada’s Glenn Howard whose side got 15 points.
An 8 point bonus went to Team World for accumulating the most points in total after men’s and women’s play in the singles.
Morning Skins Games
In the morning’s ‘A’ Skins games – 20 points were available in each game. The Mixed Skins in this session saw Canada’s Glenn Howard and trusty second player from his regular men’s team Brent Laing joined up with Sherry Anderson and Sherri Singler from Canada’s team Lawton. Their opponents were Niklas Edin (Sweden), Eve Muirhead (Scotland), Christoffer Svae (Norway) and China’s Qingshauang Yue leading. The Team World foursome trailed behind and won the last end with a steal of two points to give Team North America an important 18-2 victory.
“I’ve got to commend the two Sherry’s and Brent – they played great,” said Howard afterwards. “That was a well-curled skins game. I felt we had Niklas in trouble just about every end. I thought we played terrific. It worked out. We got a little lucky in the end there and got 18 points.”
Patti Lank (USA) pitched her women’s team against the two time Olympic gold skip Anette Norberg who she had already defeated in regular play but Lank could not conjure up a second victory over Norberg in the Skins game taking only 4 of the 20 points available to Norberg’s 16.
“I’ve practised playing skins at home but I’ve never competed playing in Skins,” said Norberg’s third Cissi Östlund after the win. “You just have to think that one end is one game and then next end is a new game. So you put the ends you’ve played behind you and start a new ‘game’ in every end.”
The men’s match up was a US / Scotland battle. Tom Brewster representing Team World gained a valuable victory over Pete Fenson 16 to 4.
At The Continental Cup 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.