For openers, it was all even. And it remained so following Thursday morning’s opening draw at the Woirld Financial Group Continental Cup curling competition at the Event Centre in Langley, B.C.
Saskatoon’s Stefanie Lawton posted the stunner of the morning, clobbering world champion Anette Norberg of Sweden 11-3 in women’s team play.
Bingyu Wang of China squared the account for Team World on an adjacent sheet of ice, shading Patti Lank of Rochester, N.Y. 6-5.
In the third women’s tilt, Canadian champion Amber Holland of Kronau, SK., pulled the string on her last draw enabling Euro champion Eve Muirhead of Scotland to forge a 5-5 draw.
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.
The value of results starts low today with team and mixed doubles play and gradually swells with the heavy-duty skins action primed to decide the issue on Sunday.
“We started out today with a weight problem,” said the 45-year-old Norberg, a two-time Olympic gold medallist and three-time world champion.
“We haven’t played this much curling this season and what we have played on has been pretty straight ice. So it has been difficult for us to adjust here.”
The playing conditions for the Continental Cup could be described as anything but straight.
Trailing 2-1 playing the fourth end, Norberg eschewed an out-turn come-around draw to the eight-foot with backing and attempted an in-turn raise on her own front stone at the top of the rings. But her last stone didn’t have the weight to improve her position, leaving the North Americans with a four-point theft.
For the Swedish team, it was all downhill from there. (Continued Below…)
Photos from Draw 1[flickr-gallery mode=”tag” tags=”d12012wfgcontcup” tag_mode=”all”]
“I wouldn’t have believed it (the game would be that lopsided),” said Lawton, who qualified as a Team North America member with a Canada Cup triumph a year ago.
“We played strong out and that steal of four sort of turned the game around. Her shots didn’t seem to work out for her and it was a tough break for them but I guess we’ll take it.”
Norberg confessed the big swing from outside ice was a factor in her shot-calling decision in the fourth.
“Definitely, it was possible to draw down there, it curled in there,” said Lawton, “but they’d just played the bump with their first one and obviously she was thinking same shot, same ice. She had to take a hair less ice and it didn’t curl the same as her first one.”
Mixed doubles action takes over the spotlight at 1 p.m. (PT). with men’s team play completing Day One skirmishing at 6:30 p.m.
In men’s games, Tom Brewster of Scotland faces Pete Fenson of the U.S., Jeff Stoughton of Canada goes against Niklas Edin of Sweden and Glenn Howard of Canada tackles Thomas Ulsrud of Norway.
This is the eighth running of the Continental Cup. North America has four previous victories and Team World three.
Media Scrum from Draw 1