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U.S. squads decided for World Financial Group Continental Cup

Two U.S. teams with an abundance of international experience have qualified to join Team North America for the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming.

Teams skipped by John Shuster, left, and Erika Brown will be part of Team North America at the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup. (Photos, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Teams skipped by John Shuster, left, and Erika Brown will be part of Team North America at the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup. (Photos, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Teams skipped by John Shuster (Superior, Wisc.) and Erika Brown (an American living in Oakville, Ont.) were confirmed today by USA Curling, after they finished first in the qualifying race based on World Curling Tour results through Nov. 17. They’ll take to the ice for curling’s version of the Ryder Cup from Jan. 14-17 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

“The Shuster and Brown teams have obviously risen to the occasion this season in order to qualify for Team North America, and we’re excited about what they’re going to add to the lineup,” said Team North America coach Rick Lang. “They have an amazing amount of skill and experience up and down the lineup, and they’ll feel right at home in Las Vegas. We’ll be counting on them to get some key points for Team North America.”

Shuster’s team will be rounded out by Tyler George, Matt Hamilton and John Landsteiner. Brown, meanwhile, will be backed up by Allison Pottinger, Nicole Joraanstad and Natalie Nicholson.

Both teams enter the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup with plenty of experience — not just internationally but at this specific event. Las Vegas will mark the seventh appearance for Joraanstad; sixth for Nicholson; fifth for Brown and Pottinger; third for Shuster; and second for Landsteiner. Only Hamilton and George will have rookie debuts. Brown, by the way, has a perfect 4-0 record in her past appearances.

“The Brown and Shuster rinks have some of the most successful and most competitive Continental Cup athletes in history,” said Team North America captain Ann Swisshelm. “It will be an awesome experience to see them compete again on Team North America, and I’m happy to be a part of it. These teams have proven themselves, not just in the U.S., but on the international stage as well. We are looking for great results from them.”

The Shuster and Brown foursomes will be joined on Team North America by the reigning champions of the Tim Hortons Brier, Calgary’s Pat Simmons, and Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones.

The final two Canadian teams will be decided in December as the men’s and women’s champions of the 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup, presented by Meridian Manufacturing, Dec. 2-6 in Grande Prairie, Alta., will be named to Team North America.

Two-time Olympian Ann Swisshelm of the U.S. will serve as the Team North America captain.

Team World has already been set. It features teams skipped by the current world champions, Niklas Edin of Sweden and Alina Pätz of Switzerland, along with Scotland’s Eve Muirhead, Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud, Japan’s Ayumi Ogasawara and China’s Jialiang Zang.

The Team World squad will be coached by 2002 Olympic men’s gold-medallist Pål Trulsen of Norway and captained by two-time world men’s silver-medallist Andy Kapp of Germany.

Meanwhile, single-draw tickets for the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup will go on sale on Friday.

Already, nearly 5,000 event passes have been sold, ensuring that the 2016 edition will break the event attendance record set in 2014 in the same arena, and meaning it also will be the best-attended curling event ever staged in the United States.

Ticket information is available at www.curling.ca/2016continentalcup/tickets/.

There are also hotel packages available for the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup. Go to www.curling.ca/2016continentalcup/visitor-guide/where-to-stay/ for information.

TSN, Canada’s leading sports network, along with French language sports network RDS, will televise all of the action from Las Vegas.