Las Vegas, USA
January 17, 2014
Team North America lead Team World by a single point after two days of play at the World Financial Group Continental Cup 2014 being held in the Orleans Hotel and Casino Arena in Las Vegas, USA.
Two sessions of team play took place today, one in the morning and one in the evening, split by a session of singles skill tests in the afternoon.
With nearly half of the teams participating in the curling competition at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games playing here, performances levels have been consistently high, which has ensured that neither team has, so far, pulled away from the other.
In the morning team games, Team World earned one and a half of the three points available as they picked up one win and a draw.
Team North America’s Rachel Homan from Canada had a two point lead with hammer in the eighth and final end of her game against Team World’s Satsuki Fujisawa from Japan. However she flashed on her last-stone hit attempt to give Fujisawa two points to tie the game 5-5.
With no extra ends in the WFG Continental Cup, each team was awarded half a point in the overall standings.
After the game, Japanese skip Satsuki Fujisawa said: “It was very, very exciting (to get a draw in that game). Halfway through when we lost those two points (through a Homan steal in the fifth end), we thought we were going to lose, but we got that one point. Then, at the end, we thought we were going to lose in the eighth end but we managed to get the two points back and get the tie which was exciting.”
Reigning world champion Niklas Edin and his team from Sweden picked up the only win for Team World and in doing so one point for their cause. They defeated Team North America’s John Shuster from the USA 7-3 thanks to scores of three points in the third end and two more points in the fifth end.
Commenting on their victory, Edin said: “We needed a good win here and we needed to get some points on the board as well. We were lucky in that last game (Team Fujisawa) to tie it up. It’s looking better and better, we’re starting to get a feel for the ice and some points on the board, so I think it should be interesting the next few match-ups.”
In the other Friday morning game, Team North America’s Jennifer Jones, from Canada, bounced back from an opening-day loss to Team World’s Eve Muirhead.
Jones stole two points in the first end and three more points in each of the third and fourth ends for a 9-3 win over reigning European champions Margaretha Sigfridsson (Sweden) of Team World.
Afterwards Jones said: “We certainly felt a lot better out there today. We were a lot more confident with the ice and with ourselves too which made a big difference. We’re happy to put some points on the board for Team North America as well. It’s nice to be able to bounce back like that because yesterday certainly wasn’t pretty and definitely wasn’t our normal team (performance). So it was nice to come back out quite a bit sharper today.”
Those results left the points total after the morning team games: Team North America 7.5, Team World 4.5.
In the afternoon singles skills test, Team World battled back into the competition, winning five of the six games and therefore earning themselves five of the six available points in the process.
Team World women were flawless as they won all three of their games against Team North America.
Each team had to throw six shots — draw to the button, hit and roll to the button, draw to the button through a port, raise to the button, runback takeout and double takeout — with each shot scored one through five depending on its success.
In the women’s games, Team World’s Margaretha Sigfridsson (Sweden) beat Team North America’s Rachel Homan (Canada) 24-18; Team World’s Eve Muirhead (Scotland) beat Team North America’s Jennifer Jones (Canada) 19-12; and Team World’s Satsuki Fujisawa (Japan) defeated Team North America’s Erika Brown (USA) 19-13.
“It’s six quite easy points there, so it’s important to do the singles well, and it turned out well for us,” said Sigfridsson, who will represent Sweden at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. “We almost never practise those shots, except the draw. But they’re good shots, quite difficult, so it’s fun to have that kind of competition.”
In the men’s singles games, Team World’s David Murdoch (Scotland) was a 16-13 winner over Team North America’s John Shuster (USA) and Team World’s Thomas Ulsrud (Norway) defeated Team North America’s Jeff Stoughton (Canada). Team North America’s Brad Jacobs (Canada) prevented the clean sweep with a 13-11 win over Team World’s Niklas Edin (Sweden).
“Definitely a tough afternoon, but we were able to get out of there and we’re only down one point,” said Team Jacobs vice-skip Ryan Fry. “It’s a hard format, to be honest with you. You miss one shot and they make it, you’re down five points going into the next shot. It’s a momentum thing; it can swing one way or the other. Get us into the team games and hopefully we’ll rise to the top.”
Meanwhile Scotland’s David Murdoch said: “That’s what we said last night; you get good days and bad days at this event, and it doesn’t take much at times. It swings pretty rapidly and you just saw a huge swing again. We’re back in it, and one (point) ahead, which is nice.”
These results left Team World on top with a 9.5 to 8.5 advantage going into the evening team games.
Team North America bounced back however, with two wins and one draw in front of nearly 5,000 spectators in team play on Friday night. This earned them 2.5 points and meant that they re-took the lead with 11 points to Team World’s 10 points going into the third day of play.
Team North America’s Jeff Stoughton made the shot of the day by making an in-off through a narrow port to score one point in the sixth end against Team World’s David Murdoch. Stoughton went on to win the game 5-4 by scoring two points in the eighth and final end.
After their game, Team Stoughton’s third, Jon Mead, said: “I was nervous, I was excited, the crowd was fantastic, there was some big shots!” He continued: “We got outplayed (in singles) and we tip our hats to the World team. They played really well again tonight and we scrapped out two and a half points – the two men’s teams got two points and we were never winning until it was over so it was a good night for us.”
In other men’s game, Team North America’s Brad Jacobs also scored two points in the eighth end to defeat Team World’s Thomas Ulsrud 4-3.
Afterwards Jacobs said: “It was incredible tonight – there was a couple of loud cheers, especially when Stoughton made that shot; we look over and we had to stop our game – it was like being at the Brier or the Trials or something!”
He continued: “Team North America was really resilient tonight because we had a rough afternoon. But we came out and we bounced back really well. It was nice to see the girls (Team Brown) split that game – that was huge, and it was good to see our team and Stoughton’s team win as well.”
In the only women’s game, a steal of one point in the sixth end by Team North America’s Erika Brown made the difference in a 3-3 draw with Team World’s Eve Muirhead.
Muirhead had a shot for two points for the win, but couldn’t make the angle raise, only taking one point to tie the game and share the one point on offer.
On their draw, Team Brown’s third, Debbie McCormick, said: “It was so intense when the crowd was so loud doing the wave… I just took it all in. This is so fun to play in an atmosphere like this. I wanted to enjoy the moment. It was so much fun and there was so much energy.”
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).
On Saturday, the final mixed doubles draw begins at 9:00am (all times Pacific Standard Time) followed by the final two team games, at 1:30pm and 6:30pm. 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. Live coverage is also be available on the World Curling Federation’s YouTube Channel World Curling TV. www.youtube.com/user/WorldCurlingTV