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New mixed doubles format on display at 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup

A revised format for mixed doubles curling produced an interesting afternoon of curling on Thursday at the Orleans Arena.

It also left the two teams in a deadlock through two rounds of the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming.

As was the case in the morning draw Thursday, Team North America and Team World each won a game, and the third game was tied, meaning each side collected 1.5 points, leaving the teams knotted at three apiece.

A total of 60 points are available over the four days of competition in curling’s version of the Ryder Cup, meaning the first team to 30.5 teams will win the overall title.

A new timing system and changes in the pre-end rock positioning were used for the first time at the World Financial Group Continental Cup, with music being played between shots to improve the fan experience. It’s part of the buildup to mixed doubles being introduced as a medal sport for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

And it did take some getting used to, said the players.

Fans pay tribute to Canadian curler Craig Savill, who's undergoing cancer treatment. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Fans pay tribute to Canadian curler Craig Savill, who’s undergoing cancer treatment. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

“You know what? They’re trying to find something that works, and that’s exciting and interesting,” said Team North America’s Marc Kennedy, who teamed with Kaitlyn Lawes for a 6-6 tie against Eve Muirhead and Torger Nergård. “It’s definitely fast, and you have to roll with the punches. Hopefully they can get some of the little things figured out, but overall, it’s so fun to play. No complaints.”

After giving up three in the seventh end to the North Americans, Muirhead and Nergård salvaged the half-point by scoring three in the eighth and final end.

Team North America got its victory thanks to the efforts of Carter Rycroft and Erika Brown. They opened the game with three in the first end, and then took control with two in the sixth end and a stolen deuce in the seventh en route to a 9-6 win over Christoffer Svae and Anna Sloan.

“Wow, it’s a little bit like a circus, a little bit intense,” marvelled Brown. “Like Carter was saying, there was no chance to look at every sheet and see how your teammates were doing out there. You just had to focus.”

 “The rules are good. We don’t mind the music and entertainment,” added Rycroft. “It was a little bit tough to get used to the timing. I felt rushed a few times trying to call your shot and then running down there. We managed it pretty well, I think.”

Marc Kennedy and Kaitlyn Lawes ponder their situation during mixed doubles play. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Marc Kennedy and Kaitlyn Lawes ponder their situation during mixed doubles play. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Team World, meanwhile, had Thomas Ulsrud and Vicki Adams to thank for its single point. They scored a big four in the sixth end and held on for an 8-6 win over Ben Hebert and Emma Miskew.

“It was great; it was my first time playing mixed doubles, so it was a little bit daunting going into it, but we had quite a few chats before the game, and having Thomas’s experience, we were pretty confident going into it,” said Adams, before adding with a laugh: “He did well (at sweeping) for a skip. I was pretty impressed. I think he’s going to need a bit of recovery time, mind you.”

Team World is looking to snap a three-year losing streak at the World Financial Group Continental Cup.

“We haven’t enjoyed losing, but this is the beauty of Las Vegas,” said Ulsrud. “You have tons of fun away from playing curling, and as soon as you step on the ice, it’s dead serious. And I hate to lose.”

The 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup continues Thursday with the second round of traditional team games, at 6:30 p.m. (all times Pacific).

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

For the complete schedule, go to: 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.