The first edition of the Continental Cup of Curling – a Ryder Cup-like competition – was held in Regina, Saskatchewan, November 7-10, 2002 after years of discussion between the Canadian Curling Association (CCA), the World Curling Federation (WCF) and the United States Curling Association (USCA).
The organizations agreed on a format where teams would compete in a variety of disciplines with varying points at stake: Mixed Doubles (36), Team Games (72), Singles (32) and Skins (260). The first side to earn 201 of the 400 available points would be declared the champion.
No one knew what to expect from this unique event that had been designed to generate worldwide interest in the sport. But, the inaugural Cup couldn’t have been scripted more dramatically or launched with more nail-biting excitement.
Team North America was comprised of four teams from Canada and two from the USA. The Canadian teams included the winners of the 2001 Canadian Curling Trials, 2002 Scott Tournament of Hearts and 2002 Nokia Brier. The USCA selected its reigning national champions. Meanwhile, the WCF and its member nations selected teams to represent Team Europe, with a men’s and women’s team from Scotland each guaranteed spots.
The championship was on the line in the final men’s Skins game between Kevin Martin and Peja Lindholm. The teams entered the eighth and final end (worth 13 points) with an overall score of 194-193 in North America’s favour after Lindholm allowed Martin to steal a 20-point seventh end skin and retain hammer.
It came down to the last rock of the last end. Lindholm was forced to attempt a difficult 20-foot double raise with his last brick, but couldn’t move a Martin counter. North America was able to steal the 13 points to the claim the first Continental Cup title.
In 2003, the Continental Cup was staged in Thunder Bay, Ontario and Team Europe came back with a vengeance. They evened the score with Team North America with a 208-179 victory that was determined once again in the 60-point Skins match on the closing day.
The 2004 Continental Cup was hosted by Medicine Hat, Alberta, November 25-28 and once again featured a star-studded line-up.
This time, it was North America who led virtually from the start. Although Day 1 ended in a 27-27 tie, the home side took command after Day 2, leading 66-42, and widened its margin to 162-118 after Day 3.
On the final day, Randy Ferbey defeated Peja Lindholm in the last end to seal the championship for Team North America.
The Continental Cup moved to Chilliwack, British Columbia, November 23-26, 2006. And what a line-up it boasted. In fact, all of the medallists from the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy were there.
This time, it was Europe’s turn to even the score at two Cups apiece, although it trailed after Day 1, 39-15 and 62-60 after Day 2.
However, Day 3 was its coming out party, as they took 114 out of a possible 140 points in Skins play to take a commanding 180-100 lead into the final day and wrapped it up with a 229-171 finish.
The 2007 Continental Cup, presented by Monsanto, returned to Medicine Hat from December 13-16, with North America and Europe tied at two wins apiece.
There were also some new wrinkles including the introduction of two Mixed Skins Games, worth 20 and 30 points, to complement the three men’s and three women’s Skins Games, now worth 20, 30 and 55 points each.
In the three pivotal 30-point Skins games Saturday evening, involving Mixed, women’s and men’s, each match went down to the eighth end and they were all won by North America. For the first time in the history of the Continental Cup, a winning side was declared by the end of the third day.
In 2008, the Continental Cup of Curling, presented by Monsanto, was staged in Camrose, Alberta, December 18-21. With the growing popularity of the sport, and the impact of competitors from Pacific Rim countries, Team Europe was officially designated as Team World.
In the first year playing under its new name, the World claimed the Continental Cup title, besting Team North America by a 208-192 score.
St. Albert, Alberta played host to the 2011 edition of the World Financial Group Continental Cup January 13 – 16 with the two sides coming in to the competition all tied up with three wins apiece.
In what was widely anticipated as a classic showdown with the rubber match on the line, Team North America proved to be the spoilers, wrapping up the title by the time Saturday play was done.
But, Team World bounced right back in 2012 with a victory in Langley, British Columbia January 12 – 15 to move the World Financial Group Continental Cup back into a four-all tie.
Once again, the decision came in the final Skins match between Thomas Ulsrud and Jeff Stoughton – with Ulsrud requiring just a single point to secure the title for Team World. The points total gave the World side a 235-165 advantage.