It was almost one of the greatest comebacks in the event’s history. Almost.
But Team World finally made it official Sunday in the final draw of the 2019 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming, picking up the final, precious points needed to clinch the championship.
The title was tantalizingly close to Team World’s grasp after the morning Skins games session after it closed to 29 points – just shy of the 30.5 finish line – after taking 11.5 of the 15 points available in the first three Skins game. That left it to the final three Skins games in the afternoon to close the deal, needing just 1.5 points.
A walk in the park, right?
No so fast. Team North America refused to yield. It went right down to the wire when Scottish skip Eve Muirhead punched out a North American stone in the eighth end to score two against Ottawa skip Rachel Homan before Team World could celebrate. Team North America had hung on to the cliff by its fingernails for almost the entire draw before finally falling.
“I knew it wasn’t over until the scoreboard said it was over. My heart’s still beating. It’s really exciting,” said Muirhead. “They came so close and kept crawling back, and back and back. To play that last shot was really exciting. You’re not just playing for your team (on the ice), you’re playing for the entire team.”
It mattered little that Team North America won the final three-game battle 10 skins to five; Team World had won the war, 34-26, and the celebration was on.
“It really sucked losing last year because we were really close,” said Team World’s Niklas Edin of Sweden, who lost the mixed Skins game 4-1 to North America’s Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L.. “So we were really determined to play well and the whole group played awesome. We have a really young group and if this comes back a couple of times they’ll be in trouble.”
It was the first win for Team World since 2012, and besides regaining bragging rights, the players, coaches and captains were rewarded with $85,000 Cdn in prize money. Team North America earned $45,000.
But the money was secondary. It was the title that was important.
Team North America almost swept all three Skins matches on Sunday afternoon. Homan, despite giving up the winning points, tied Muirhead 2.5-2.5 in the women’s Skins and Calgary’s Kevin Koe downed Scottish skip Bruce Mouat 3.5-1.5 in the men’s Skins.
Team North America coach Jeff Stoughton was proud of his players for how they they hung in there, refusing to lay down.
“Obviously we were in a tough spot. But we got to the fourth end, then the sixth and then down to the wire. They put up a great fight,” he said.
This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at: https://www.curling.ca/?lang=fr