Team North America off to sprint start at 2011 WFG Continental Cup

Team North America is ahead with 42 points with Team World on 12 points after the first day of curling at the 2011 World Financial Group Continental Cup.

Photo: CCA/Michael Burns

In the evening men's team games, Team North America picked up 12 points for two wins. Vancouver Olympic Gold Medallist Kevin Martin led his Canadian team to a 6-4 victory over the all-star line up led by David Murdoch from Scotland. The last shot by Pete Fenson from the US produced a 5-3 win against Team World's Niklas Edin from Sweden. Only Thomas Ulsrud from Norway was able to notch up 6 points for Team World by beating the reigning Men's World Champions skipped by Kevin Koe 7-2.

"It's a marathon and it's nice to get a sprint off the start," said Team North America Captain Neil Harrison after the first day of play. "Everybody's had a chance to play now, they've got used to the ice and the team's bonding a bit now and it's nice to see them having fun out there."

Team World Captain Norway's Pål Trulsen said it had not been a good day, "I thought they should be closer. We have been struggling a bit with a lot of swing on the ice. We'll be much better tomorrow! At the end of the men's draw, it was much better."

In the afternoon Mixed Doubles session, Team North America picked up 3 wins and a further 18 points for their tally as Canada's Carter Rycroft and Jennifer Jones beat Norway's Torger Nergård and China's Yan Zhou 12-4. Canada's Kevin Martin and Ann Swisshelm from the US did not let Sweden's Niklas Edin and Germany's Monika Wagner get a look in with the points until the sixth end and won 6-4.

"He [Martin] made all his shots, especially the first five ends and didn't give us anything to play," said Edin after the game, adding "this time they took all the points and we didn't have a chance to score."

The game between the US's Shawn Rojeski and Canada's Susan O'Connor against Norway's Thomas Ulsrud and China's Bingyu Wang was tighter, with the North American duo stealing a point to make a 7-6 win in the eighth and final end.

"It was fun, you know we don't get to play mixed doubles much" explained Ulsrud afterwards, "I was tired as a skip running up and down sweeping all those rocks! It was a tight game and we lost it there in the end."

In Thursday morning's women's team action, Canada's Cheryl Bernard and Jennifer Jones clocked up two wins (12 points) for Team North America. Bernard and her Olympic Silver medal winning team beat reigning world champions Germany, skipped by Andrea Schöpp 6-2. Jones beat European bronze medallists Mirjam Ott and her team from Davos, Switzerland 7-5.

"Every point counts and it usually comes down to a couple of points at the end, so you don't like to give away points early," said Jennifer Jones at the end of the game against Ott.

The only win for Team World (6 points) was produced by China's Bingyu Wang who beat Erika Brown and her side from the US 9-7. Wang clawed her way back to win the game after losing 5 points in the second end. "We just tried to get back the five points, tried everything, and they started to miss some shots," said Wang, explaining her team's tactics after the game.

The 2011 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Monsanto, brings together twelve of the best curling teams in the world (six representing Team World, six representing Team North America).

A total of 400 points is available from four types of curling competition - Team Games (72 points), Mixed Doubles (36 points), Singles (32 points) and Skins (260 points). Each segment awards points for wins (or ties). The first side to reach 201 points is declared the winner.

North America won the inaugural Continental Cup in 2002 (in Regina, Canada), in 2004 and 2007 (both in Medicine Hat, Canada). Team World (then known as Team Europe) won in 2003 (in Thunder Bay, Canada), 2006 (in Chilliwack, Canada) and 2008 (in Camrose, Canada).

In Canada live coverage of the event can be seen on TSN and in collaboration with the World Curling Federation, this coverage can be seen by the rest of the world on the WCF website:

The World Financial Group Continental Cup is a joint venture between the Canadian Curling Association, World Curling Federation and United States Curling Association.