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World team explodes for doubles sweep

Vengeance was Team World’s in spades on Friday afternoon at curling’s World Financial Group Continental Cup competition when three Global duets swept the results in the second round of mixed doubles play at the Langley Events Centre.

The sweep afforded the team that was totally embarrassed at last year’s Cup rendition a 24-point lead — 57-33 — heading into the final men’s team games later today.

Team World high fives! (Photo by: Michael Burns/CCA)

The four-day competition features six teams from North America (Canada and the U.S.) facing off against six teams from the remainder of the planet (in this case, Sweden, Scotland, Norway and China) in four separate events involving rocks and brooms — regular team play, mixed doubles, singles (also known as Hot Shots) and skins.

Mixed doubles involved two players per side, one male and one female, playing five rocks each over eight ends of play. There was no sweeping, except by the two players involved.

“All of us came out and put on a good show, I think” said Scotland’s Eve Muirhead.

“Everybody played well and we came out with all the points. There are big men’s games coming up but right now I think we’re four games ahead and I don’t think we could ask for much more at this stage.”

The three doubles confrontations were of the tight variety.

* Torger Nergard of Norway and Bingyu Wang of China combined for a 5-4 decision against Craig Savill of Canada and Patti Lank of the U.S.;

* Fredrik Lindberg of Sweden and Muirhead warded off a late rally to shade Ben Hebert and Stefanie Lawton of Canada 8-7;

* Greg Drummond and Anna Sloan of Scotland got off to a 5-1 lead and hung on for a 7-5 conquest of the Amerk unit of Joe Polo of the U.S. and Amber Holland of Canada.(Continued Below…)


Photos from Draw 5

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“We always felt that if we got an early lead it would get the momentum going and gain confidence from that,” said Drummond afterward. “We always felt that the mixed doubles gave us an opportunity to pick up a lot of points and I think that was the case.”

Nevertheless, this was Drummond’s first taste of the mixed doubles format.

“It’s a game of skill where you have to get your stones in the right places and if you do that you’re going to score big ends. If you get your stones in the right places it puts a lot of pressure on the opposition. We were able to do that in the first part of our game and get an early lead built up.”

Drummond said the toughest part of the assignment is the lack of sweeping assistance.

“It would be better with dedicated sweepers,” he opined. “I mean, you’re sitting in the hack and you feel you have a basic shot that you’d make nine times out of 10 with your two brushers, but in doubles by the time somebody gets there to sweep it the shot is missed.

“But this is a different side of the game. It’s a lot of fun.”

Added Muirhead:

“It’s so much fun! It’s a different game. You give up three, you don’t panic. It’s not difficult to get four or five back.”

Nergard, Norway’s long-time vice-skip, said the teams practised doubles on Tuesday and “it helped”.

“It was a decent afternoon,” he said, by way of understatement. “I guess we were just making more shots than the others. Plus some luck, of course.

“I think it’s important to get this lead and then the other ones have to make that extra effort to make those points. It’s better to be ahead than to be behind, for sure. We’re not there yet but we’re looking better than we were last year. We were trailing from the start last year. By comparison, this is perfect.”

In men’s team games at 7 p.m. PT, Glenn Howard of Canada faces Niklas Edin of Sweden, Pete Fenson of the U.S. tackles Thomas Ulsrud of Norway, and Canadian champion Jeff Stoughton goes against Tom Brewster of Scotland in a rematch of last year’s world championship final.

Draw 5 Media Scrum