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Team World off to good start at Continental Cup

Team World demonstrated it means business at the 2008 Continental Cup, presented by Monsanto, capturing two of the three women’s team games, while tying the other, in Thursday morning’s opening draw at the EnCana Arena in the Edgeworth Centre.

China’s Bingyu Wang took care of Canada’s Stefanie Lawton, 8-3, while Mirjam Ott of Switzerland had no trouble with USA’s Debbie McCormick, 10-3, blasting away from the opening bell with three in the first end, then four in the fourth for total command.

In the third women’s game, Canada’s Jennifer Jones counted a deuce in the eighth and final end to salvage a 4-4 tie with Sweden’s Anette Norberg.

Each women’s game was worth six points, while tied games (no extra ends) split the available points, so Team World emerged with a 15-3 lead after Draw 1 of the sixth Continental Cup.

North America holds a 3-2 edge in Cup wins, since the unique four-day competition began in 2002 in Regina.   North America won the inaugural Cup, then took renewals in Medicine Hat in 2004 and 2007.   The World (formerly Team Europe) won in 2003 in Thunder Bay and 2006 in Chilliwack.

TSN and TSN2 are providing 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.

Many of the globe’s top curlers are participating in this year’s Cup.  The North America side has the reigning world champions, Kevin Martin of Edmonton and Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg, current USA champions Debbie McCormick and Craig Brown of Madison, Wisconsin and last year’s winners of the Strauss Canada Cup, Kevin Koe of Edmonton and Stefanie Lawton of Saskatoon.

Team World boasts the current European champions Mirjam Ott of Davos and Scotland’s David Murdoch of Lockerbie, the reigning Pacific champions, China’s Bingyu Wang and Fengchun Wang from Harbin, 2006 Olympic gold medallist and two-time world champion Anette Norberg of Härnösand and Norway’s two-time world bronze medallist Thomas Ulsrud of Oslo.

Each member of the winning team will receive $2,000, while each losing team member gets $1,400.

Thursday afternoon’s draw at 1:00 pm MST/3:00 pm ET features three Mixed Doubles games, each worth six points, involving a male and female curler from each side throwing and sweeping.  Tonight’s draw at 7:00 pm local time/9:00 pm ET showcases three men’s team games, again worth six points each, with Ulsrud facing Koe, Wang playing Martin and Murdoch battling Brown.

The Continental Cup is a joint venture of the Canadian Curling Association, the United States Curling Association and the World Curling Federation.