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World Financial Group Continental Cup begins Thursday

The World Financial Group Continental Cup gets underway on Thursday in Penticton, British Columbia, Canada at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

The ninth edition of this unique international curling competition takes place between January 10-13 and is the third time the event has been staged in British Columbia, following Chilliwack in 2006 and Langley for the 2012 edition.

The ‘Cup’ features six teams from North America competing against six teams representing the rest of the World in various curling disciplines during the four days - Team games, Mixed Doubles, Singles, Mixed Skins and Skins games. For each segment teams are awarded points for wins (or ties).

Currently, North America and The World are tied at four wins apiece since the inaugural Continental Cup was held in 2002 in Regina.

Team World is comprised of teams skipped by Niklas Edin (Sweden), Tom Brewster (Scotland), Thomas Ulsrud (Norway), Margaretha Sigfridsson (Sweden), Mirjam Ott (Switzerland) and Eve Muirhead (Scotland).

Their captain will be former world champion from Scotland, David Hay, while three-time world champion Peja Lindholm from Sweden will be their coach - the same positions they held last year when Team World won the Cup in Langley.

Brewster has earned a silver medal at the last two World Men’s Curling Championships, losing the final to Canada’s Jeff Stoughton in Regina in 2011 and to Canada’s Glenn Howard in Basel in 2012. Sweden’s Niklas Edin and his team were recently crowned European champions in their hometown of Karlstad. They too medalled at the last two World Curling Championships winning bronze in both years.

Two-time European champion and 2012 European silver medallist, Thomas Ulsrud, is another experienced athlete in Team World. He took the silver medal at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, where he lost the final to Canada’s Kevin Martin. His team also finished fourth in the last two world men’s championships.

Ott, a two-time Olympic silver medallist, is currently reigning world women’s champion, having won the 2012 Ford World Women’s gold medal in Lethbridge, Canada, over Sigfridsson’s team. Muirhead, the 2010 world silver medallist, is a four-time world junior champion and a silver medallist at the 2012 European Curling Championships.

Team North America will be represented by four teams from Canada – skipped by Glenn Howard of Coldwater, Ontario, Kevin Martin and Heather Nedohin of Edmonton, Alberta and Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg, Manitoba and two teams from the United States - skipped by Heath McCormick of Sarnia, Ontario and Allison Pottinger of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Their captain will be 2000 world champion and 2002 Olympic bronze medallist Kelley Law of Coquitlam while three-time Brier winner and two-time world champion Rick Lang of Thunder Bay will return as coach.

Howard is a four-time Brier and world champion (1987, 1993, 2007, 2012) after capturing the 2012 world title in Basel, Switzerland. Martin is also a four-time Brier winner (1991, 1997, 2008, 2009), 2010 Olympic gold medallist and 2008 world champion.

Howard’s team qualified for the World Financial Group Continental Cup by winning last year’s Tim Hortons Brier (Canadian Men’s Curling Championship) in Saskatoon, while Martin earned his berth by taking the 2011 Capital One Canada Cup in Cranbrook, BC.

Nedohin secured her berth with a victory at the 2012 Scotties Tournament of Hearts (Canadian Women’s Championship) in Red Deer, then earned a bronze medal at the Ford World Women’s in Lethbridge, Alberta. Jones, a four-time Scotties winner and 2008 world champion, won last year’s Canada Cup to earn her spot for the Penticton event.

McCormick, who was born in Lansing, Michigan, but resides in Sarnia and Pottinger, the 2003 world champion, are the reigning US national champions. McCormick finished eighth at the 2012 Men’s Worlds while Pottinger was fifth at the 2012 Ford World Women’s.

This year’s event will see 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.

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

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