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Team North America carries lead into final day

PENTICTON, B.C. — Team North America is taking a nine-point lead into the final day of the World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Monsanto.

And while that may seem like a healthy lead in curling’s version of the Ryder Cup, it should be noted that 30 points will be on the line on Sunday at the South Okanagan Events Centre in six skins-format games, meaning that a Ryder Cup-style final-day comeback like the one mounted by the Europeans last year at Medinah isn’t out of the question.

Team World’s Niklas Edin urges on his sweepers during his victory over Team North America’s Glenn Howard on Saturday at the WFG Continental Cup (Photo, CCA/Michael Burns).

Team North America added to its lead on Saturday night in the final men’s team draw, winning two of the three games to take a 19.5-10.5 lead in the 60-point competition; the first team to 30.5 points will win the WFG Continental Cup, although Team World as the defending champion from last year’s event in Langley, B.C., would retain possession of the championship if the teams end up tied with 30 points after Sunday’s final draw, which begins at 5 p.m. (all times PST).

The World team got a badly needed shot in the arm in the final game on the ice on Saturday night. With two North American wins on the board, Team World’s Niklas Edin (Karlstads CK, Karlstad, Sweden) made a raise-double takeout to score one in the eighth end for a 5-4 win over Team North America’s Glenn Howard (Coldwater & District CC, Coldwater, Ont.).

“It was an important one, both for Team World and for our own team,” said Edin, who won the European championship last month. “We haven’t been playing that well, but we put it together for a pretty good game. It was close to the end and we could have lost it, but getting the win was really important.”

That set the tone for a potential comeback on Sunday, with Edin scheduled to take on Team North America’s Heath McCormick (Ardsley CC, Ardsley-on-Hudson, N.Y.) in a skins game at 1 p.m.

“That’ll be a lot of fun,” said Edin. “We’ve been playing better and better and I think we have a chance to get some skins. It’s always interesting with lots of stones in play. It’ll be fun to play and hopefully we can tighten up the match.”

Team North America’s Kevin Martin (Saville Sports Centre, Edmonton, Alta.) got the evening off to a solid start for his side; he scored two in the first end and four more in the third and cruised to an 8-3 win over Team World’s Thomas Ulsrud (Snarøen CC, Oslo, Norway).

“We seem to be firing on all four cylinders right now and that’s nice to see,” said Martin’s vice-skip John Morris, whose team struggled in a pair of events in December. “New year and a new team, it looks like. We got an early lead on those guys and just kept the pedal on the gas.”

The Martin team will be split up for a pair of mixed skins games on Sunday; Morris will skip one team against Team World’s Tom Brewster (Curl Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland) at 1 p.m., while Martin has been matched up with four-time world junior women’s champion Eve Muirhead (Dunkeld CC, Dunkeld, Scotland) in an intriguing pairing at 5 p.m.

“Well, I’m glad he’s playing Eve because it’s lose-lose situation, right?” said Morris with a smile. “You win, you’re supposed to beat a gal. And if you get beaten by a gal, you wouldn’t live that one down for a while. But I’m sure it’ll be a good game.”

In the other men’s team game, McCormick made an open hit for one in the eighth end for a 4-3 North American victory over Team World’s Brewster foursome.

“It wasn’t the prettiest,” said McCormick. “At the end of day, if you make the last shot, that’s what counts.”

Matchups for Sunday’s skins games were determined following the afternoon women’s team draw, as Team North America captain Kelley Law (Coquitlam, B.C.) and coach Rick Lang (Thunder Bay, Ont.), along with Team World captain David Hay (Perth, Scotland) and coach Peja Lindholm (Östersund, Sweden), set their lineups.

The six skins games (two mixed, two women’s and two men’s) on Sunday will offer 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.

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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 that generates the highest points total from the final three skins games will receive an additional $13,000 ($500 per player, plus captain and coach).

Each side has won four Continental Cups.

SUNDAY, Jan. 13
1 p.m. PST
Skins
Sheet A (Men): Team North America/Heath McCormick (Ardsley CC, Ardsley-on-Hudson, N.Y.) vs. Team World/Niklas Edin (Karlstads CK, Karlstad, Sweden)
Sheet B (Mixed, listed in order of skip, third, second, lead): Team North America/John Morris (all from the Saville Sports Centre, Edmonton, Alta.), Beth Iskiw, Ben Hebert, Jessica Mair vs. Team World/Tom Brewster (Curl Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland), Anna Sloan (Dunkeld CC, Dunkeld, Scotland), Scott Andrews (Curl Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland), Claire Hamilton (Dunkeld CC, Dunkeld, Scotland)
Sheet C (Women): Team North America/Allison Pottinger (St. Paul CC, St. Paul, Minn.) vs. Team World/Margaretha Sigfridsson (Skellefteå CK, Skellefteå, Sweden)

5 p.m. PST
Skins
Sheet A (Women): Team North America/Jennifer Jones (St. Vital CC, Winnipeg, Man.) vs. Team World/Mirjam Ott (CC Davos, Davos, Switzerland)
Sheet B (Mixed, listed in order of skip, third, second, lead): Team North America/Kevin Martin (all from the Saville Sports Centre, Edmonton, Alta.), Heather Nedohin, Marc Kennedy, Laine Peters vs. Team World/Eve Muirhead (Dunkeld CC, Dunkeld, Scotland), Greg Drummond (Curl Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland), Vicki Adams (Dunkeld CC, Dunkeld, Scotland), Michael Goodfellow (Curl Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland)
Sheet C (Men): Team North America/Glenn Howard (Coldwater & District CC, Coldwater, Ont.) vs. Team World/Thomas Ulsrud (Snarøen CC, Oslo, Norway)

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Other information:

• For ticket and other event information, visit www.curling.ca/championships/continentalcup.
• TSN, the exclusive television network for the Canadian Curling Association’s Season of Champions, and French language sports network RDS/RDS2 will provide complete coverage of this year’s World Financial Group Continental Cup, from the Opening draw (Women’s Team games) on Thursday morning through to and including the final Skins games on Sunday.
• The World Financial Group Continental Cup is a joint venture of the Canadian Curling Association, United States Curling Association and World Curling Federation.
• Media inquiries for other story ideas can be directed to:
Al Cameron
Director, Communication and Media Relations
Canadian Curling Association
403-463-5500
acameron@curling.ca
www.curling.ca