Thirty-one points. That’s what Team World requires today from the 110 available in the final two skins games that will conclude the World Financial Group Continental Cup at the Langley Events Centre.
For a time on Saturday night, it appeared Team North America might be poised for a major comeback in 30-point skins action but only Glenn Howard was able to collect a final winner, leaving the visitors in front 170-120.
Team World sends teams skipped by Bingyu Wang of China and Thomas Ulsrud of Norway into the fray today in final matches against Stefanie Lawton and Jeff Stoughton of Canada.
“I would say it looks very, very good for us,” said World coach Peja Lindholm of Sweden following the Saturday action.
“It’s going to be important to take every possible point that we can. We know they will have to play the carryover game, the only way to catch up in skins. We will have to be smart and calculate every shot. And we will have to work to keep them from taking chances for carryovers.”
Lindholm says he and his captain David Hay of Scotland have every confidence in the Wang and Ulsrud units.
“We trust Betty (Wang). We don’t speak Chinese so we just know she’ll go out there and execute. I’m very confident in that team. I’m sure they will give us some points.
“If that gets us the win before the men’s game, that would be perfect. Otherwise, we have a very experienced team going out there to close it.”
Howard played a final end in which every rock appeared to be in play against Niklas Edin of Sweden but the Canadian veteran executed his last rock, a tight raise tap for a deuce and the final skin in a 25-5 decision.
Amber Holland’s Canadian champ appeared to have its game with Euro champion Eve Muirhead of Scotland well in hand, too, but with 22 points available on the last end, Holland rubbed into the open on a last-rock bury leaving Muirhead an open hit for the winning skin and a 26-4 duke.
Stoughton, directing Patti Lank, Jon Mead and Mackenzie Lank, looked to have control of his mixed skins match until his last runback double was off-target leaving Ulsrud (Wang, Greg Drummond, Sara Carlsson) with a 15-point skin, its first of the match, and a 15-15 saw-off.
“It’s always exciting in skins with so many points at stake in the last end,” said four-time world junior champion Muirhead, who will be departing today for Innsbruck to take part as a role model in the World Youth Olympics. “One mistake and she wins the game by 22 points. It’s nerve-wracking toward the end but that’s why we train so hard.
“I hope Betty can bring it home in the morning before I have to leave,” Muirhead added.
Stoughton wasn’t nonchalant about the prospect of grinding out a possible comeback in today’s 5 p.m. final.
“Hopefully, Stefanie’s team can close the gap a bit and then we’ll see what we have to do in the final,” said the current Canadian men’s champ.
“That’s all you want, a chance in the last game. If we have to run the table we’ll try to run the table but as long as we have a chance, that’s the main thing.”
Lawton, whose Saskatoon outfit will carry the North American banner at 10:30 a.m., said she’d rather be playing that sitting on the bench.
“I like playing the game,” she said. “I find it much more nerve-wracking on the bench so I know our girls are going to be ready to play hard. We’ll just have to try to keep our team in it.”
Draw 9 Media Scrum