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Continental Cup starts Thursday in Camrose, Alberta

The sixth edition of the Continental Cup of Curling, presented by Monsanto, gets underway Thursday in Camrose, Alberta, when Team North America takes on Team World in the unique four-day competition.

This year’s Continental Cup will be played in the 2,300-seat EnCana Arena at the Edgeworth Centre, bringing together most of the world’s finest curlers in the Ryder Cup-like event, which provides each member of the winning team with $2,000, while each losing team member gets $1,400.

The World (formerly Team Europe) will be looking to even the score against North America at three wins apiece.  The sides have alternated claiming the Cup since its inception in 2002, with 2005 a bye year.  North America won the inaugural Continental Cup in Regina in 2002, then renewals in Medicine Hat in 2004 and 2007.   The World won in 2003 in Thunder Bay and 2006 in Chilliwack.

Team World is headed by Switzerland’s Mirjam Ott and Scotland’s David Murdoch, fresh from their triumphs at the Le Gruyère European Championships in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden on Saturday.   Ott, a two-time (2002, 2006) Olympic silver medallist, won her second Euro title, defeating Sweden’s Anette Norberg, the defending champion, in the final, while Murdoch, the 2006 world champion, successfully defended his title by winning his third European championship.

Joining them are Norberg, the 2006 Olympic gold medallist, two-time (2005, 2006) world champion and seven-time European champion, Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud, the Euro runner-up for the second consecutive year and two-time (2006, 2008) world bronze medallist, China’s Bingyu Wang, the 2008 Ford world women’s silver medallist, and Fengchun Wang, fourth place finisher at the 2008 world men’s, both of whom also won the recent Pacific Championships.   2002 Olympic gold medallist Pål Trulsen of Norway is the World captain while the coach will be Sweden’s Peja Lindholm, a three-time (1997, 2001, 2004) world champion.

Team North America consists of four teams from Canada and two teams from the United States.  Leading the hosts are the reigning world champions, Edmonton’s Kevin Martin and Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones.  They are joined by teams skipped by the 2008 Strauss Canada Cup winners Stefanie Lawton of Saskatoon and Edmonton’s Kevin Koe, along with Madison, Wisconsin’s 2003 world champion Debbie McCormick and Craig Brown, the current USA champions.  Russ Howard, the 2006 Olympic gold medallist and two-time (1987, 1993) world champion, will be the captain for North America while Jim Waite is the coach.

Norberg is a two-time (2003, 2006) Cup winner, while Ott and Murdoch were also members of the winning World (Europe) side in 2006.  Martin was a member of the winning North America side in 2002, while Jones and McCormick were teammates last year when the hosts won again in Medicine Hat.

TSN and TSN2 will provide complete live national coverage of the competition, encompassing 28 hours, similar to what The Sports Network did for the first three Continental Cups from 2002-2004. The Continental Cup, the first event in curling’s Season of Champions, involves Team games (72 points), Mixed Doubles (36 points), Singles (32 points) and Skins (Men’s, Women’s and Mixed, worth a total of 260 points).  The first side to score 201 points is declared the winner.

The Continental Divide, the event’s entertainment centre, will be located in the adjacent Border Paving Arena.   Full event, weekend, day and individual draw passes are on sale through Ticketmaster (780-451-8000 or Ticketmaster.ca). For more event information, visit Seasonofchampions.ca.

The Continental Cup is a joint venture of the Canadian Curling Association, the United States Curling Association and the World Curling Federation.  For live scoring, go to www.curling.ca <http://www.curling.ca> .

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS (All times Mountain; Eastern time: +2 hours)

Wednesday, December 17
11:30 am – 1:00 pm                 Team World Practice
2:00 pm – 3:30 pm                  Team North America Practice
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm                  Sponsors Reception – Arena
5:00 pm – 7:15 pm                  Opening Banquet – Arena
7:30 pm – 8:15 pm                  Opening Ceremonies – Arena

Thursday, December 18
Draw 1            8:30 am           Women’s Team Games
Draw 2            1:00 pm           Mixed Doubles
Draw 3            7:00 pm           Men’s Team Games

Friday, December 19
Draw 4            8:30 am           Women’s Team Games
Draw 5            1:00 pm           Mixed Doubles
Draw 6            8:00 pm           Men’s Team Games

Saturday, December 20
Draw 7            10:00 am          Skins Games (Men’s, Women’s and Mixed A)
Draw 8            4:00 pm           Singles
Draw 9            7:30 pm           Skins Games (Men’s, Women’s and Mixed B)

Sunday, December 21
Draw 10          8:30 am            Final Women’s Skins Game (C)
Draw 11          2:00 pm            Final Men’s Skins Game (C)
4:15 pm            Closing Ceremonies
5:00 pm            Champions Reception

2008 CONTINENTAL CUP
PRESENTED BY MONSANTO
DECEMBER 18-21, 2008
ENCANA ARENA, EDGEWORTH CENTRE, CAMROSE, ALBERTA

TEAM WORLD  – Captain:  Pål Trulsen, Norway    Coach: Peja Lindholm, Sweden

Women
CHINA – Harbin CC, Harbin
Bingyu Wang, Yin Liu, Qingshuang Yue, Yan Zhou

SWEDEN – Härnösands CK, Härnösand
Anette Norberg, Kajsa Bergström (replaces Eva Lund), Cathrine Lindahl, Anna Svärd

SWITZERLAND – CC Davos, Davos
Mirjam Ott, Carmen Schäfer, Valeria Spälty, Janine Greiner

Men
CHINA – Harbin CC, Harbin
Fengchun Wang, Rui Liu, Xiaoming Xu, Jialiang Zang

NORWAY – Snarøen CC, Oslo
Thomas Ulsrud, Torger Nergård, Christoffer Svae, Håvard Vad Petersson

SCOTLAND – Lockerbie CC, Lockerbie
David Murdoch, Ewan MacDonald, Niklas Edin (replaces Peter Smith), Euan Byers

TEAM NORTH AMERICA – Captain:Russ Howard, Canada    Coach:Jim Waite, Canada

Women
CANADA – St. Vital CC, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Jennifer Jones, Cathy Overton-Clapham, Jill Officer, Dawn Askin

CANADA – CN Curling Club, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Stefanie Lawton, Marliese Kasner, Teejay Surik (replaces Sherri Singler), Lana Vey

UNITED STATES – Madison CC, Madison, Wisconsin
Debbie McCormick, Allison Pottinger, Nicole Joraanstad, Tracy Sachtjen (replaces Natalie Nicholson)

Men
CANADA – Saville Sports Centre, Edmonton, Alberta
Kevin Koe (third stones), Blake MacDonald (fourth stones), Carter Rycroft, Nolan Thiessen

CANADA – Saville Sports Centre, Edmonton, Alberta
Kevin Martin, John Morris, Marc Kennedy, Ben Hebert

UNITED STATES – Madison CC, Madison, Wisconsin
Craig Brown, Rich Ruohonen, John Dunlop, Peter Annis