North America storms back at Continental Cup

In a night filled with controversy, North America stormed back into contention at the Continental Cup, presented by Monsanto, closing a 38-point gap to just 14, heading into Sunday’s two final Skins games.

North America storms back

The score now reads World 152, North America 138, and sets up Sunday’s two 55-point Skins games at the Edgeworth Centre for all the marbles, featuring reigning world champion Jennifer Jones against 2006 Olympic and two-time world champion Anette Norberg of Sweden at 8:30 am MT, followed by the men’s game at 2:00 pm, pitting reigning world champion Kevin Martin against two-time worlds bronze medallist Thomas Ulsrud of Norway. TSN2 will show the women’s Skins live, while TSN will carry the men’s Skins live. Saturday evening, in the men’s 30-point Skins game, North America emerged with a lopsided win, 28-2, as Kevin Koe’s Edmonton rink demolished Scotland’s David Murdoch.   One of the keys to the win was fourth rock thrower Blake MacDonald’s blast in the seventh end, which removed a Murdoch counter, and gave a 10-point skin from a carryover to Koe. In the Stefanie Lawton-Mirjam Ott 30-point women’s match, Lawton make a key double takeout in the seventh end, earning a skin worth 16 points after three carryovers, to open a 19-2 lead, before Ott took a nine-point Skin in the eighth end to make the final score, 19-11. The marquee Mixed Skins game featured a lineup for Team World that listed four skips, headed by Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud, against a North America squad which had the reigning world champions Kevin Martin, as skip, and Jennifer Jones, as third.  The final score turned out to be 16-14 for World. However, controversy emerged prior to the start of tonight’s draw, when it was brought to the attention of the officials that Team North America had named ineligible line-ups for not only tonight’s game, but also for Saturday morning’s 20-point Mixed Skins Game, which was won by North America, 15-5. It was therefore decided by all parties (officials and team captains/coaches) that the points for each of the two Mixed Skins games would be split, regardless of the outcome.  The net result was that World and North America each received 25 points for the two Mixed Skins games. The rules state that the Mixed Skins line-ups must be comprised of two players who are named in the 20-point Skins, two players named in the 30-point Skins and four players in the 55-point Skin games. North America used a lineup Saturday morning which included three players who had been named to compete in the 30-point Skins, along with one player named for the 55-point Skins game.  Tonight’s line-up listed four players named for the 55-point Skins game, meaning five players in 55-point Skins games, instead of four, were used, while no players from the 20-point Skins game were used. The Continental Cup, the first event in curling’s Season of Champions, involves Team games (72 points), Mixed Doubles (36 points), Singles (32 points) and Skins (Men’s, Women’s and Mixed, worth a total of 260 points).   The first side to score 201 points is declared the winner.  Each member of the winning team will receive $2,000 while each losing team member gets $1,400. North America holds a 3-2 edge in Cup wins, since the unique four-day competition began in 2002 in Regina.   North America won the inaugural Cup, then took renewals in Medicine Hat in 2004 and 2007.   The World (formerly Team Europe) won in 2003 in Thunder Bay and 2006 in Chilliwack.