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2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup begins Thursday in Las Vegas

History will be made when the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming, kicks off on Thursday at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

Vegas showgirls flank Team North America captain Ann Swisshelm and player John Morris. They'll all be at the Orleans Arena this week for the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming.

Vegas showgirls flank Team North America captain Ann Swisshelm and player John Morris. They’ll all be at the Orleans Arena this week for the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming.

Before the first rock is thrown Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m. (all times Pacific), the existing cumulative attendance records for both the World Financial Group Continental Cup, as well as any curling event ever staged in the United States, will have been broken.

As well, the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup will be the first time that the planet’s best curlers go head to head with new mixed doubles rules, introduced this past off-season, in advance of the mixed doubles discipline’s Olympic medal debut in 2018 in South Korea.

And it will indeed be a world-class field in Las Vegas, as Team North America takes on Team World in a four-day competition featuring three unique styles of curling competition (traditional team, skins, mixed doubles). Each segment awards points for wins (or ties). A total of 60 points are available, meaning the side that earns more than 30 points will be declared the champion.

Team North America will feature four teams from Canada and two from the United States, led by coach Rick Lang (Thunder Bay, Ont.) and captain Ann Swisshelm (Chicago).

2014 Olympic women’s gold-medallist Jennifer Jones will be playing in her seventh World Financial Group Continental Cup and pursuing her sixth title (including last year in Calgary).

She’ll be joined on Team North America by teams skipped by Pat Simmons of Calgary (2015 Tim Hortons Brier champion), Kevin Koe of Calgary (2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup men’s champion), Rachel Homan of Ottawa (2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup women’s champion), John Shuster (Superior, Wisc.) and Erika Brown (an American living in Oakville, Ont.). The Shuster and Brown foursomes qualified by virtue of their fall 2015 results on the World Curling Tour.

Team World, coached by 2002 Olympic gold-medallist Pål Trulsen of Norway and captained by Andy Kapp of Germany, will be looking to snap a three-year slump, dating back to its most recent victory, in 2012 in Langley, B.C.

But based on the lineup, this will be a strong contender to end that losing streak, with reigning world champions Niklas Edin of Sweden and Alina Pätz of Switzerland leading the way.

Also headed to Vegas are 2014 world men’s champion Thomas Ulsrud of Norway, 2013 world women’s champion Eve Muirhead of Scotland, Ayumi Ogasawara of Japan and Zang jialiang of China.

It will be the 12th edition of curling’s version of the Ryder Cup, and the second time it has been staged in Las Vegas. In 2014, the first time the World Financial Group Continental Cup had been staged outside of Canada, an attendance record of 51,216 was established, shattering the previous record and falling just short of the U.S. attendance record of 51,731, set in 2008 at the Ford World Men’s Championship in Grand Forks, N.D. — a nine-day event compared to the four-day span of the World Financial Group Continental Cup.

Total attendance for the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup is already in excess of 62,000, with tickets still available. Single-draw tickets are available for $20 US; the weekender package (same seat for Saturday and Sunday) is $149 US while the full-event Old Classic package is $238 US.

Tickets for the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup can be purchased by clicking here or by calling 1-888-234-2334.

The opening ceremonies are scheduled for 8 p.m. on Wednesday at the Orleans Arena.

For the first six mixed doubles matches, one point will be awarded for each victory, one-half point if tied; those figures will double for the final three mixed doubles matches. There will be 18 team games (nine men’s and nine women’s) played, each worth one point for a win and a half-point for a tie. All games are eight ends and there are no extra ends.  There will also be six skins games, with each game worth a total of five points to the winner.

The winning side receives $52,000 Cdn ($2,000 per member, including captain and coach), while the losing side gets $26,000 ($1,000 per member, including captain and coach). As well, the side that generates the highest points total from the six Skins games will receive an additional $13,000 ($500 per player, plus captain and coach).

For the complete schedule, click here.

Both teams will practise on Wednesday at the Orleans Arena. Team North America will practise from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., while Team World will practise from 2-3:30 p.m. All team members will be available for interviews following their respective practices.

TSN (RDS2 in French), the exclusive television network for Curling Canada’s Season of Champions, will provide complete coverage of the World Financial Group Continental Cup. As well, live-streaming for curling fans in the U.S. will be available on ESPN3.

Team North America Lineups

Men
Pat Simmons (Calgary)
John Morris
Carter Rycroft
Nolan Thiessen

Kevin Koe (Calgary)
Marc Kennedy
Brent Laing
Ben Hebert

John Shuster (Superior, Wisc.)
Tyler George
Matt Hamilton
John Landsteiner

Women
Jennifer Jones (Winnipeg)
Kaitlyn Lawes
Jill Officer
Dawn McEwen

Rachel Homan (Ottawa)
Emma Miskew
Joanne Courtney
Lisa Weagle

Erika Brown (Oakville, Ont.)
Allison Pottinger
Nicole Joraanstad
Natalie Nicholson

Captain: Ann Swisshelm
Coach: Rick Lang

Team World Lineups

Men
Niklas Edin (Sweden)
Oskar Eriksson
Kristian Lindström
Christoffer Sundgren

Thomas Ulsrud (Norway)
Torger Nergård
Christoffer Svae
Håvard Vad Petersson

Zang Jialiang (China)
Xu Xiaoming
Ba Dexin
Wang Jinbo

Women
Eve Muirhead (Scotland)
Anna Sloan
Vicki Adams
Sarah Reid

Alina Pätz (Switzerland)
Nadine Lehmann
Marisa Winkelhausen
Nicole Schwägli

Ayumi Ogasawara (Japan)
Sayaka Yoshimura
Kaho Onodera
Anna Ohmiya

Captain: Andy Kapp (Germany)
Coach: Pål Trulsen (Norway)