LAS VEGAS — Team North America owes a very large debt of gratitude to Jill Officer; without her dramatic shot, Saturday morning would have been an outright disaster at the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming.
Officer, the longtime second for Team Jennifer Jones, made a spectacular clutch takeout in the eighth and final end of a mixed doubles game that removed Team World’s counters and ended up biting the button, nearly frozen to a Team World stone.
And when Team World’s Nicole Schwägli was unable to remove the Team North America stone, it resulted in a stolen single point and a 6-5 victory.
But the other two games went to Team World on Saturday morning, producing four of a possible six points (the available point totals were doubled from the first two mixed doubles rounds) and a 14-10 lead in the overall standings.
“Oh my God, it was amazing! I was so nervous,” admitted Officer. “I mean, I’m not used to throwing last rock and my muscles were shaking in the hack. Even when I started to move in my delivery, I could feel my legs shaking. I was just glad I slid good and right at the broom, and that we wiggled it in there for shot.”
“We were just hoping for the best, and the best happened,” added Hamilton.
It capped an entertaining morning that saw the lineups on each sheet shuffled after the first four ends, to give all players a chance to play in the mixed doubles format.
Officer and Hamilton finished off the win against Schwägli and Jialiang Zang; through four ends on the same sheet, Team World’s Nadine Lehmann and Kristian Lindström were leading John Shuster and Dawn McEwen of Team North America 3-2.
In the other games, Team World’s Niklas Edin and Anna Ohmiya were 8-4 winners over Team North America’s Kevin Koe and Joanne Courtney. Through four ends, Team World’s Sarah Reid and Havard Vad Petersson were up 4-2 on North America’s Lisa Weagle and Nolan Thiessen.
“It was entertaining; it was for a little bit of bragging rights,” said a smiling Thiessen of the all-leads battle for half a game. “We clearly screwed up a few times. I guess we need skips after all because they’re out there telling us what to do, and that’s what we need sometimes.”
Also, Team World’s Jinbo Wang and Ayumi Ogasawara rolled past North America’s John Landsteiner and Allison Pottinger 9-3. They took over after Team World’s Kaho Onodera and Dexin Ba took a 3-1 lead after four ends against Pat Simmons and Nicole Joraanstad.
“Very, very happy,” said Team World coach Pål Trulsen of the morning results. “It was a great team effort, especially switching the teams halfway through the games. We had a good team meeting yesterday about it, and we came into today very positive. We believed we had a chance to get some good results.”
The two sides will play two more rounds of traditional team games on Saturday (1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., all times Pacific) before the two skins rounds on Sunday, which will have more points on the line.
“You know what? We just have to get the momentum going in the right direction, and maybe Jilly’s shot did that,” said Thiessen. “I’ve played in a few of these and momentum is huge. Now maybe the rest of us will start hanging a few more points on the board and make this thing really entertaining tomorrow.”
Team North America has won the past three editions of the World Financial Group Continental Cup.
A total of 60 points are available over the four days of competition in traditional team, mixed doubles and skins competition, with the first team to surpass 30.5 points declared the winner.
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.