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WFG Continental Cup 2014 Round-up: Day 1

Team Ulsrud picked up a point for Team World this morning but Team North America fought back to take the lead in the evening Photo: Chris Holloman - Katipo Creative

The World Financial Group Continental Cup 2014 got underway at the Orleans Hotel and Casino Arena in Las Vegas, USA today and saw Team North America take a 6-3 advantage going into the second day of competition.

Nearly half of the teams participating in the curling competition at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games are participating here and it was two of the Olympic teams from Europe who picked up the first wins of the day for Team World in the morning team games.

Reigning world champions and Great Britain’s representatives in Sochi, Eve Muirhead and her team from Scotland, began well as they defeated Team North America’s Jennifer Jones, who will represent Canada at the Olympics.

Muirhead stole three points in the fourth end and two points more in the fifth end on their way to a 12-2 victory to earn one point for Team World.

After this game, Muirhead said: “It was a great start, we played really well and the ice conditions are fantastic.” She continued: “We had a really solid game out there and to get the first points on the board for Team World was good.”

Thomas Ulsrud and his team from Norway will also be representing their nation in the upcoming Olympic Winter Games. They managed to pick up another point for Team World as they defeated Jeff Stoughton and his team from Canada.

Ulsrud scored three points in the fourth end on his way to a 7-4 win as Stoughton’s team could manage just single points against the Norwegians.

Following their win, Ulsrud said: “I think we played pretty solid out there. We’ve been practising pretty hard in preparation for the Olympics; it’s good to get a good start for Team World. This is a big event for us. We get to play the Canadian Olympic team (Brad Jacobs) and the U.S. Olympic team (John Shuster), so we’re looking forward to that, it will be good practice. Hopefully we can send a message to them; I just hope they don’t crush us!"

The US Olympic women’s team, skipped by Erika Brown, managed to win one point back for Team North America however with a 5-3 victory over Team World’s Satsuki Fujisawa from Japan. This meant that the scores after the first session were 2-1 in Team World’s favour.

In the afternoon, a crowd of 4,341 was treated to the discipline of Mixed Doubles Curling. Canada’s Jennifer Jones and Mark Nichols picked up an important point for Team North America as they won 9-2 against the Swedish pairing of Niklas Edin and Christina Bertrup.

Jones and Nichols stole one point in the first end, two more points in the second end and another two points in the third end. In the fourth end the Swedes opted to give the hammer to Team North America in an attempt to reverse the momentum, and it didn’t work - Jones and Nichols scored three points more and the result was never in doubt from there.

After their win, Jennifer Jones said: “He (Nichols) was amazing. We had so much fun out there – he made my job easy. Mixed doubles is a ton of fun to play, I love playing it. Any more medals that we can get in the Olympics, I’m all for it. I think it’s a great format and maybe in the future we’ll be able to play in it.”

Another all-Canadian pairing - Jeff Stoughton and Kaitlyn Lawes - had to work harder for their victory. Lawes had to draw to the full eight-foot with the last stone of the game for an 8-7 Team North America win over Team World’s Swedish duo of Sebastin Kraupp and Maria Prytz.

Stoughton and Lawes led 6-2 after four ends, but the Swedes scored three points in the fifth end and two more points in the seventh end to tie the score and set the stage for Lawes’ game-winning shot.

Afterwards Lawes said: “That encouragement (from the spectators) really made me sweep. That was a pretty exciting finish to our game. The exciting thing is that at the Continental Cup last year we started off with two losses and a tie in the first round, so I said to our team: ‘We’re actually in a better position than last year,’ so things are looking good.”

Team World managed to salvage one point out of the draw thanks to the combination of Christoffer Svae (Norway) and Satsuki Fujisawa (Japan). Svae and Fujisawa took three points in the first end and three more points in the third end as they went on to win 13-1 against Team North America’s Jeff Isaacson and Debbie McCormick from the USA.

Following their win, Christoffer Svae said: “I enjoy playing Mixed Doubles, especially at this event because it’s more about fun and entertaining. The game itself is challenging, more so than normal curling, especially with someone you have never played with before and when there’s not much sweeping going on because the ice gets tracky. So for people at home, don’t expect us to shoot 90-95 per cent which we sometimes do during normal games. It’s a great game if you shoot 65 per cent (in mixed doubles), so that’s the challenge.”

Following the two wins for Team North America and one win for Team World in the Mixed Doubles, the overall team scores after that session were tied at 3-3.

In the final session of the day, Team North America took the lead for the first time in the competition as they made a clean sweep, picking up three points from three victories in the evening team games.

Team North America’s Brad Jacobs made a crucial double takeout to blank the seventh end in their game against Team World’s Niklas Edin and his team from Sweden.

In the eighth and final end, Jacobs then made an open hit to score one point for a 4-3 victory in a rematch of last year’s Ford World Men’s Championship gold-medal game in Victoria, which was won by Edin.

“That feels great,” said Jacobs, who will skip Team Canada at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. “That was my first game ever, all of our (his teammates) first games, at the Continental Cup and that was a blast. I can’t believe how many fans were out there. It was awesome — a clean sweep, we’re up 6-3. Perfect.”

In other the other games, Team North America’s Rachel Homan from Canada was a 6-4 winner over Team World’s Margaretha Sigfridsson from Sweden.

Homan’s team stole two points in the sixth end to turn the game around when, Maria Prytz, who delivers fourth stones, couldn’t execute a hit-and-roll to score.

On their win, Homan said: “That was good. My whole team played well and so did Sigfridsson’s, they always are. Pretty excited about the three-team sweep tonight.”

In the other evening game, Team North America’s John Shuster from the USA earned a 5-3 win over Team World’s David Murdoch from Scotland – Great Britain’s representatives in Sochi.

Shuster, who will skip the United States in the Olympic Winter Games, scored two points in the fourth end and never looked back.

Reflecting on the game he said: “Any time you can go out there and get a win it feels great. It’s amazing how different it feels when you’re winning for a whole team of 24 instead of just for a team of four.”

A total of 60 points are available during this competition, meaning the side that earns more than 30 points will be declared the champion.

For the six mixed Doubles and six singles matches, one point will be awarded for each victory, one-half point if tied). There will be 18 team games (nine men’s and nine women’s) played, each worth one point for a win and a half-point for a tie. All games are eight ends and there are no extra ends. There will also be six skins games, with each game worth a total of five points to the winner.

The winning side receives $52,000 Cdn ($2,000 per member, including captain and coach), while the losing side gets $26,000 ($1,000 per member, including captain and coach). As well, the side which generates the highest points total from the six Skins games will receive an additional $13,000 ($500 per player, plus captain and coach).

There are three draws on Friday: traditional team games at 8:30am and 7pm and the singles competition at 1 pm. To find out who will play who and when, visit: http://www.worldcurling.org/wfg-continental-cup-2014-matchups-revealed

For ticket and other event information, visit: www.curling.ca/2014continentalcup-en/
For the complete event schedule, go to: www.curling.ca/2014continentalcup-en/draw-schedule/
For more about the Olympic curling competition: http://sochi2014.curlingevents.com/

In Canada, TSN (RDS2 in French), will broadcast complete live coverage of the event. In the United States, NBCSN will air extended highlight coverage on Sunday 19 January from 1:30-3:30 PM ET and on Sunday 26 January from 8:00-10:00 PM ET. In Sweden live coverage will aired on the Viasat platform on Saturday 18 January. Live coverage will also be available on the World Curling Federation’s YouTube Channel World Curling TV. www.youtube.com/user/WorldCurlingTV

RESULTS

Session 1 (Teams):
Team World (Muirhead, Scotland) 12,
Team North America (Jones, Canada) 2.

Team World (Ulsrud, Norway) 7,
Team North America (Stoughton, Canada) 4.

Team World (Fujisawa, Japan) 3,
Team North America (Brown, USA) 5.

Session 2 (Mixed Doubles):
Team World (Kraupp/Prytz, Sweden) 7,
Team North America (Stoughton/Lawes, Canada) 8;

Team World (Svae/Fujisawa, Norway/Japan) 13,
Team North America (Isaacson/McCormick, USA) 1.

Team World (Bertrup/Edin, Sweden) 2,
Team North America (Nichols/Jones, Canada) 9.

Session 3: (Teams):

Team World (Edin, Sweden) 3,
Team North America (Jacobs, Canada) 4.

Team World (Sigfridsson, Sweden) 4,
Team North America (Homan, Canada) 6.

Team World (Murdoch, Scotland) 3,
Team North America (Shuster, USA) 5.

TEAM SCORE
After Day 1:
Team World 3, Team North America 6,

TEAM LINE-UPS: http://www.worldcurling.o

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