Home side increases lead to 72-18 through Friday afternoon

Team North America persisted in piling on the pressure Friday afternoon at the Servus Credit Union Place, taking two of three mixed doubles matches at Continental Cup VII. With Olympic silver-medal-winning skip Cheryl Bernard of Calgary and national champion Jill Officer of Winnipeg tossing last boulders, the home side advanced its leading point edge to 72-18 heading into Friday night’s final men’s team competition at the World Financial Group event. Still, the big point action remains ahead on the weekend with skins and singles matches Saturday and Sunday. Bernard, playing with Olympic gold medal-winning lead Ben Hebert of Calgary, defeated Team World’s combine of Sebastian Kraupp (Sweden) and global champion Andrea Schoepp (Germany) 6-3 while Officer and Edmonton’s Blake MacDonald, a world champion third last year, topped Mirjam Ott and Ralph Stoeckli of Switzerland, 6-5 on a last-rock hit by Officer.

David Murdoch of Team World at The WFG Continental Cup

Team World salvaged its third win of the week and its first in mixed doubles when David Murdoch (Scotland) and Carmen Schaefer (Switzerland) throttled U.S. champions Pete Fenson and Erika Brown 9-4. “Points-wise,” said North American coach Rick Lang of Thunder Bay, “it’s not too significant when you look at all the points left on the board. But, I think, they (World) might be feeling a little desperate. “You can’t count on much right now. Like a world or national championship, you know that you still have to win at the end of the week, not Thursday-Friday. “There are a lot of points left. You have to be aware of that. It can change in a hurry. A little momentum means a lot at this point.” World coach Pal Trulsen of Norway says he’s looking for an instant momentum change. “We have to win a draw, we haven’t done that yet,” he said. “We’re not out of this but certainly it isn’t looking good right now. We seem to be hitting all the guards. We need some energy here. “Without some wins tonight we have to take all the skins and that’s hard to do. We don’t have (two-time Olympic gold-medal winner) Anette Norberg here. She’d take the big skin. Maybe I should give call her and get her in here.” Of her mixed doubles win, Bernard credited her younger partner Hebert. “I didn’t want to play in the event,” she said. “I was totally out of my element. But Ben was a great sport about it. He did it all. I just held the broom and made a couple of shots.” Added Hebert: “I just got to curl with the hottest 40-year-old I know.” Officer, who doesn’t usually throw last rocks to win games, said it was a different feeling to face the task. “But I was more nervous throwing the last rock in the first couple of ends than I was with the very last one. It was something new, with a different rhythm, playing with somebody different. I’d like to play it again. You end up really bearing down and focusing because you’re a little out of the your comfort level.” In men’s team matches at 7:30 p.m. today, Kevin Martin of Edmonton faces Niklas Edin of Sweden, Kevin Koe of Edmonton goes against Murdoch and Fenson of the U.S. tackles Thomas Ulsrud of Norway.  Ulsrud won his previous men’s outing, as did Martin and Fenson.