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New direction set for curling’s WFG Continental Cup

The Canadian Curling Association will take over sole operation and decision-making for future editions of the World Financial Group Continental Cup, it was announced today.

A scene from the 2013 WFG Continental Cup. (Photo, CCA/Michael Burns)

A scene from the 2013 WFG Continental Cup. (Photo, CCA/Michael Burns)

The curling version of golf’s Ryder Cup was formerly a joint collaboration between the CCA, World Curling Federation and USA Curling. But following the 2014 WFG Continental Cup, which is scheduled for Jan. 16-19 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, the CCA will take control of the event.

“We’ve had a positive working relationship with the WCF and USA Curling since the WFG Continental Cup debuted in 2002 in Regina, but we felt that to continue building on the momentum that will be generated from the Las Vegas event, it was important that the CCA take a strong role in determining future directions for the WFG Continental Cup,” said CCA Chief Executive Officer Greg Stremlaw. “We’ve always believed this event has huge potential for attracting new curling fans, and we’re excited about what we can do to take it to new levels in the future.”

Among the changes for future editions of the WFG Continental Cup will be increased Canadian content. Traditionally, the event pitted a North American side against teams from the rest of the world, with four Canadian (two men’s, two women’s) teams combining with two U.S.-based teams (one men’s, one women’s) to form Team North America.

Instead, effective at the 2015 WFG Continental Cup, Jan. 8-11 in Calgary, the event will feature an all-Canadian entry (three men’s, three women’s teams). For the 2015 event, the Canadian teams will consist of the 2013 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials men’s and women’s champions Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg; the 2014 Tim Hortons Brier and Scotties Tournament of Hearts champions; and the 2014 Canada Cup men’s and women’s champions (to be decided Dec. 3-7 in Camrose, Alta.).

In alternating years, Canada will take on Team Europe (2015, 2017) and Team World (2016, 2018), consisting of teams from the U.S. and other non-European curling nations.

“Having more Canadian teams involved is always a good thing,” said Stremlaw. “It will also mean more rivalries and more excitement as other countries join forces in hopes of taking down the world’s most accomplished curling nation.”

Nine previous Continental Cups have been staged, with Team North America prevailing five times, including the most recent edition last January in Penticton, B.C.

The first five Continental Cups featured North American teams playing European teams; Asian teams were added to the mix in 2008 at Camrose, Alta., and the Team North America vs. Team World format was adopted.

The WFG Continental Cup features a variety of curling competitions, including traditional team games, skins, mixed doubles and singles.

Record crowds are already guaranteed for the Las Vegas event, said Stremlaw, and future visits to the U.S. for the Continental Cup are very likely.

“We’re thrilled with the response to our first WFG Continental Cup staged outside of Canada,” he said. “We’ll continue to look for new opportunities such as this one to build not only the event, but the sport of curling and showcase it in unique ways.”