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Dramatic finish keeps WFG Continental Cup in North America

LONDON, Ont. – The World Financial Group Continental Cup is staying in North America after the most dramatic finish in the event history.

The four-day battle between Team World and Team North America came down to one final draw to the button competition after the two sides finished tied at 30-30 in overall points.

Brad Gushue for North America and Thomas Ulsrud for World were chosen by their respective teams for the one-shot draw to determine the 2018 champion. Gushue’s shot was light, just getting to the top of the four foot.

Team World thought the Cup was won. But Ulsrud’s stone kept sliding and sliding, to the back to the eight-foot, and the Team North America bench erupted. It was, as coach Rick Lang said, crazy.

“I threw it a little bit light, but the guys thought it should have gotten to the T-line,” Gushue said of his shot. “I didn’t think it was over. I did think in my head, boy that was slow and with three of what I think are the best sweepers in the world just polishing up that path, if he goes by my time he would be heavy, and sure enough that’s what happened. I feel bad for him.”

Team North America had victory within sight about an hour earlier with a 27-24 lead and needing just 3.5 points from the final seven to seal their win. But two of the three games in the final skins session had carryovers from the eighth ends and that meant draws to the button to determine the final point.

Silvana Tirinzoni outdrew Rachel Homan and Niklas Edin did the same to Kevin Koe. Edin’s stone was about 90 per cent on the button, but Koe threw a perfect rock that was barely overswept and ended about an inch outside Edin’s measurement.

Team North America players were jumping for joy after winning the 2018 World Financial Group Continental Cup. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

That gave Team World hope and Ulsrud kept the momentum going. Ulsrud made a triple raise, double takeout for two in the seventh end to win the two points that were available from carryovers. He then stole two in the eighth to win the final point that resulted in the 30-30 tie.

It was a heartbreaking loss for Team World, which was on the verge of ending a five-year losing streak in the Cup competition. When Gushue’s rock came to rest, captain David Murdoch leapt up and punched the air, thinking victory was theirs.

“Unbelievable,” said a disappointed Murdoch. “We got those last points at the end (of the three games) and then we won the (first two) draws. A little unlucky with Brad’s taking a full sweep it really quickened up the line and the guys didn’t enough off what they thought it was going to be.

“It’s been a great week, everybody played so well and it’s been exciting and that’s what this event is. It’s about creating a fun event, taking it down to the wire and it couldn’t be more down to the wire than what it was today.”

Team North America received $52,000 Cdn ($2,000 per member, including captain and coach), while Team World settled for $26,000 ($1,000 per member, including captain and coach). But Team World did collect the $13,000 ($500 per player, plus captain and coach that went to the side that collected the most points from skins play on Sunday, winning the skins games in total 15.5-14.5.

It’s the sixth straight year the Cup had remained in North America. Through the first eight years of competition the teams had taken turns winning.  Since 2012, however, Team North America has won every year, although in 2015 it was Team Canada.

This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2018continentalcup/?lang=fr