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World Financial Group Continental Cup going down to the wire

LONDON, Ont. – Just do not be heavy. Just do not be heavy. Those were the reminders Japan’s Satsuki Fujisawa told herself before her last rock draw-to-the-button shot to determine the final point available in Sunday afternoon’s skins session at the 2018 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Service Experts.

Fujisawa’s draw was light, but her Team World teammates jumped on it early and heavy sweeping dragged the stone to the top edge of the four foot. That opened the door for Team North America’s Nina Roth to just draw the four-foot for the crucial point, but her rock slid just out the back of the four-foot. That gave the point to Team World and kept them right in the hunt in their bid to end a five-year Cup losing streak. Team North America goes into the final draw leading 23.5 to 21.5.

“Thank you very much to sweepers,” Fujisawa said later. “I was a little nervous. We had a little time before my draw, to think about it. I tell myself, you have good sweepers, it’s just a shot so I trust them.”

Fujisawa’s foursome took three of the five points available in their game.

Team North America’s John Shuster drew about three-quarters of the button, good enough to earn the final point in his game after Team World’s Benoit Schwarz drew about half the button. Shuster’s team took four of the five points.

The draw-to-the-button shots were required in the two games because there were carryovers from the eighth end. It was a strange few moments in The Sports Centre at the Westfair District when the building went absolutely silent after four days of loud cheering and yelling by fans and teammates.

“You could feel the intensity out there,” North America’s Marc Kennedy said of the silence as the skips prepared to throw the final stones. “You could hear a pin drop.”

None of that bothered Roth

“I had just thrown that draw, so I knew if I just focused on that and focused on the broom all of that would go away, and it did. It felt really good out of hand but it just an inch or two deep.”

Matt Hamilton pumps his fist to celebrate a shot during skins game action on Sunday. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

As happens most year, the WFG Continental Cup will go down the final draw, perhaps even the final stone after nothing was settled in Sunday’s first round of skins.

North America took eight of the available 15 points in the afternoon session that included a men’s, women’s and mixed skins game. There are 15 more points available in tonight’s final session of skins games.

In the mixed game, Kennedy, playing skip, made a last end, last-rock angle raise takeout to count two and earn the full point available. The Team World team skipped by Oskar Eriksson took three of the five points and were set up to possibly steal the final point in the eight. World had taken the full point in the seventh when Eriksson made a tight last-rock hit and stick.

“I was so proud of our team in the eighth end” said Kennedy. “After giving up the tough one in seven we still came out and played a good end and got a potentially big point.”

In skins play each of the first six ends is worth half a point and the seventh and eighth ends are worth a full point. The team with hammer must score two to count while the team without hammer can earn the points available by stealing. If neither scenario happens there’s a carryover.

TSN (RDS2 in French), the exclusive television network for the Curling Canada’s Season of Champions, will provide complete coverage of the World Financial Group Continental Cup. The event also is being streamed live in the United States on ESPN3. CLICK HERE to see TSN’s broadcast schedule.

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