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Team World on cusp of World Financial Group Continental Cup victory

Team World, which saw its comfortable lead in the 2019 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming, severely shaved, reasserted its dominance in a big way Sunday in Las Vegas.

Players from Team World knocked Team North America from pillar to post in the annual event to build an impressive 16-5 lead mid-way through the competition, only to see their opponents claw their way back to within five points Saturday night with a big performance.

But Team World said ‘enough of this’ Sunday morning, taking 11.5 of the 15 points available in the three Skins game to take a stranglehold on the competition at Orleans Arena. The additional points gives Team World a 29-16 lead heading into this afternoon’s final draw of three Skins matches where the final 15 points are up for grabs. The first team to hit 30.5 points, the minimum required, will win the championship.

Team World needs a meagre 1.5 points this afternoon to reach the summit, snap an ugly six-year drought in the event and pocket a tidy sum of $85,000 Cdn for their efforts in the four-day global rockfest.

While it looks to be over and everybody knows it, although some players on Team World were being very diplomatic after the morning draw.

“You never know, it’s only three games of Skins,” said Team World’s Oskar Eriksson of Sweden, who picked up 4.5 points out of the available five against Mark Nichols (St. John’s, N.L.) and his Team North America. “I’m just hoping the 12 players for Team World will go out and do the job for us (this afternoon).”

Eriksson said Team World players were still upbeat after being swept Saturday night.

“Going into the last day, we still had a five-point lead and thought we were still the favourites,” he said. “We have six really good teams and great shooters at every position. We had good team spirit as well. I think we had more fun than Team North America.”

Nichols was downcast after the loss.

Jennifer Jones and her team from Winnipeg defeated Silvana Tirinzoni in the women’s skins game, but North America trails Team World in the overall standings. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

“After last night there was a lot of energy in the room and we felt we were climbing back into it,” said Nichols, who was supported by third Jamie Sinclair (Manitock, Ont. [representing U.S.], second Brett Gallant (St. John’s) and lead Taylor Anderson (Minneapolis).  “But obviously the result from this morning wasn’t what we needed. I struggled today. There were missed shots from me that could have changed the game a lot.

“The (North American) teams that are going out this afternoon will put in their best effort but it’s going to be pretty hard to catch the World Team. We put them in a pretty big hole. I hope they can go out and enjoy the last match.”

The one bright spot for Team North America was the play of Jennifer Jones and her team from Winnipeg. Jones defeated Team World’s Silvana Tirinzoni from Switzerland 3-2 in points in the women’s Skins game. It could have been better but Jones lost the final point, a carryover, in a draw for closest to the button.

“Obviously we’re disappointed with how our game ended,” said Jones. “But we’re still alive, still breathing with some hope. It’s going to be tough for the teams this afternoon but we’ll go to the bench and cheer them on.”

Swiss skip Peter de Cruz and his Team World squad whitewashed Team North America’s John Shuster to pick up all five points in the men’s Skins game.

The final draw of Skins games will commence at 4 p.m. (PST).

TSN/TSN2 and RDS2 will provide complete coverage of the World Financial Group Continental Cup. CLICK HERE for the complete schedule. The event is also live in the United States on ESPN3.

The World Financial Group Continental Cup format pits Team North America against Team World in a series of Team Play, Mixed Doubles, Team Scramble, Mixed Team Play and Skins games. Teams earn points by winning games and the first to score 30.5 points is declared the World Financial Group Continental Cup champion.

For ticket information, as well as team lineups and the full event draw for the 2019 World Financial Group Continental Cup, go to https://www.curling.ca/2019continentalcup/

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