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Early matchups set for 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup

A world championship gold-medal game rematch is among the highlighted early matchups for the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming, it was determined on Wednesday afternoon in Las Vegas.

From left, Team World captain Andy Kapp and coach Pål Trulsen, along with Team North America coach Rick Lang and captain Ann Swisshelm prepare to make their picks for game matchups for the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

From left, Team World captain Andy Kapp and coach Pål Trulsen, along with Team North America coach Rick Lang and captain Ann Swisshelm prepare to make their picks for game matchups for the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Team North America coach Rick Lang and captain Ann Swisshelm traded picks with Team World coach Pål Trulsen following the team practices at the Orleans Arena to decide the matchups for the opening three days of curling’s version of the Ryder Cup, in traditional team games as well as mixed doubles. There will be three rounds instead of the traditional two, with singles play now dropped from the program.

The game that leaps out is Friday at 8:30 a.m. (all times Pacific), with Canada’s Jennifer Jones playing Switzerland’s Alina Pätz — the same teams played for gold (with Pätz prevailing) at the 2015 World Women’s Championship in Sapporo, Japan.

Also intriguing will be the mixed doubles competition, as the world’s best players use new rules adopted this past off-season that revolve around game-timing (allowing music to be played in between shots), strategy (a “powerplay” option is now available to teams, giving them the chance to start with rocks in a side-house position instead of on the centre-line) and rock positioning (the stationary rock in the house has been moved from the back of the button to the back of the four-foot).

There will be some interesting Team North America duos, including the husband-and-wife pairing of Brent Laing and Jennifer Jones (playing Pätz and Christoffer Sundgren Friday at 1 p.m.) and John Morris and Rachel Homan, taking on Sayaka Yoshimura and Oskar Eriksson, also Friday at 1 p.m.

There will be two rounds of traditional team competition on Thursday and Friday (8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. both days), and two more team draws Saturday, 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

The mixed doubles draws are at 1 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and 10 a.m. on Saturday. The 10 a.m. draw will see teams switched after four ends, as the 12 remaining players for each team that haven’t played mixed doubles will get in the ice for the final four ends.

The unique format pits Team North America against Team World in various disciplines during four days of competition — traditional team games, mixed doubles, mixed skins and standard skins games. 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.

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.

For the first six mixed doubles matches, one point will be awarded for each victory, one-half point if tied. Those totals will be doubled for the 10 a.m. draw on Saturday.

All games are eight ends and there are no extra ends.  There will also be six skins games (those matchups will be decided on Saturday), 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).

Tickets for the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup can be purchased at http://www.curling.ca/2016continentalcup/tickets/ or by calling 1-888-234-2334.

For the complete schedule, go to: http://www.curling.ca/2016continentalcup/draw-schedule/

TSN (RDS2 in French), the exclusive television network for the Curling Canada’s Season of Champions, will provide complete coverage of the World Financial Group Continental Cup.

This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at http://www.curling.ca/2016continentalcup/?lang=fr

MATCHUPS

Thursday
8:30 a.m.
Team

Sheet A — Eve Muirhead (World) vs. Rachel Homan (North America)
Sheet B — Thomas Ulsrud (World) vs. Kevin Koe (North America)
Sheet C — Alina Pätz (World) vs. Erika Brown (North America)

1 p.m.
Mixed Doubles

Sheet A —Vicki Adams/Thomas Ulsrud (World) vs. Emma Miskew/Ben Hebert (North America)
Sheet B —Eve Muirhead/ Torger Nergård (World) vs. Kaitlyn Lawes/Marc Kennedy (North America)
Sheet C — Anna Sloan/Christoffer Svae (World) vs. Erika Brown/Carter Rycroft (North America)

6:30 p.m.
Team

Sheet A — Zang Jialiang (World) vs. Pat Simmons (North America)
Sheet B —Ayumi Ogasawara (World) vs. Jennifer Jones (North America)
Sheet C — Niklas Edin (World) vs. John Shuster (North America)

Friday
8:30 a.m.
Team

Sheet A — Alina Pätz (World) vs. Jennifer Jones (North America)
Sheet B — Zang Jialiang (World) vs. John Shuster (North America)
Sheet C — Ayumi Ogasawara (World) vs. Rachel Homan (North America)

1 p.m.
Mixed Doubles

Sheet A — Alina Pätz/Christoffer Sundgren (World) vs. Jennifer Jones/Brent Laing (North America)
Sheet B — Marisa Winkelhausen/Xiaoming Xu (World) vs. Natalie Nicholson/Tyler George (North America)
Sheet C — Sayaka Yoshimura/Oskar Eriksson (World) vs. Rachel Homan/John Morris (North America)

6:30 p.m.
Team

Sheet A — Niklas Edin (World) vs. Kevin Koe (North America)
Sheet B — Eve Muirhead (World) vs. Erika Brown (North America)
Sheet C — Thomas Ulsrud (World) vs. Pat Simmons (North America)

Saturday
9 a.m.
Mixed Doubles

Sheet A — Sarah Reid/Håvard Vad Petersson (World) vs. Lisa Weagle/Nolan Thiessen (North America)
Sheet B — Nadine Lehmann/Kristian Lindstrom (World) vs. Dawn McEwen/John Shuster (North America)
Sheet C — Kaho Onodera (second)/Dexin Ba (World) vs. Nicole Joraanstad/Pat Simmons (North America)

1 p.m.
Team

Sheet A — Ayumi Ogasawara (World) vs. Erika Brown (North America)
Sheet B — Niklas Edin (World) vs. Pat Simmons (North America)
Sheet C —Eve Muirhead (World) vs. Jennifer Jones (North America)

6:30 p.m.
Team

Sheet A — Thomas Ulsrud (World) vs. John Shuster (North America)
Sheet B — Alina Pätz (World) vs. Rachel Homan (North America)
Sheet C — Zang Jialiang (World) vs. Kevin Koe (North America)