by Al Cameron
January 18, 2014, LAS VEGAS (ISN) – Team North America will take a five-point lead into the final day of the 2014 World Financial Group Continental Cup at the Orleans Arena.
The home team, which is bidding to become the first back-to-back winner in the history of curling’s version of the Ryder Cup, won two games and tied another to claim 2.5 of the three available points in Saturday night’s closing round of traditional team games.
With those results, Team North America opened up a 17.5-12.5 lead in the overall standings. A total of 60 points are available, meaning the first team to 30.5 points will win the WFG Continental Cup, although as reigning champions, Team North America would need only 30 points to win.
Team North America’s Jeff Stoughton (Winnipeg) recorded the most crowd-pleasing win of the evening. Bowing to the wishes of a crowd in excess of 5,000, he decided to attempt a double-takeout and made it to score four en route to a 6-2 win over Team World’s Niklas Edin (Sweden).
“It’s a good thing we listened to the crowd,” said a laughing Stoughton. “We were just looking at how we could jam the rock. We were going to play the double the whole time – we wanted to see which way we wanted to hit it to miss the back two or at least jam off it so it was fun. It was nice to let the crowd influence you a little bit.
“Going down the sheet, with everyone knowing we were going for it, then to make it, the crowd goes crazy and it’s a great feeling – it’s something else.”
In other action, Team North America’s Jennifer Jones (Winnipeg), who was feeling under the weather earlier in the day, recovered enough to make a dandy double takeout with her last rock of the game for a 6-5 win over Team World’s Satsuki Fujisawa (Japan).
“I wouldn’t want anyone else throwing that rock,” said Jones’s vice-skip Kaitlyn Lawes. “She had a fantastic game. She had draw weight in her pocket, she was making the big shots when we need to come through – when I would miss. Happy to see she was feeling good.”
In the other Saturday night game, Team North America’s John Shuster (Duluth, Minn.) stole one in the eighth end when Team World’s Thomas Ulsrud (Norway) was just a hair tight with his last rock, producing a 6-6 tie and half a point for both sides.
“Any time you can get points and add to the total the closer we are to getting that trophy back is a good thing,” said Shuster, whose last rock in the eighth end forced Ulsrud into the difficult draw. “I was really happy. We tapped one spot there and pretty much hit it. The guys did a phenomenal job judging it. I love having those guys in the front end.”
On Sunday, the skins games draws are set for 1 p.m. and 6 p.m., and the matchups were decided late Saturday afternoon.
In the women’s skins games, Team World’s Margaretha Sigfridsson (Sweden) will play Team North America’s Jones at 1 p.m., while at 6 p.m., Team World’s Eve Muirhead (Scotland) will play Team North America’s Erika Brown (Oakville, Ont./Madison, Wisc.).
In men’s skins, at 1 p.m. it’s Team World’s Edin against Team North America’s Shuster, while at 6 p.m., Team North America’s Brad Jacobs (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) will play Team World’s Ulsrud.
The mixed skins at 1 p.m. features a Team North America squad skipped by Rachel Homan, with Jon Mead at third, Alison Kreviazuk at second and Reid Carruthers at lead, playing Team World’s Brewster, Emi Shimizu, Greg Drummond and Chiaki Matsumura. The 6 p.m. mixed skins lineups: Team North America’s Stoughton, Emma Miskew, Nichols and Lisa Weagle against Team World’s David Murdoch, Satsuki Fujisawa, Scott Andrews and Miyo Ichikawa.
Each skins game is worth five points in the overall standings.
“The skins finishes off the week for us and there’s a lot of points left out there still, so we’re just happy to have a little bit of a lead going into Sunday and we’re looking forward to seeing what unfolds tomorrow,” said Lawes. “Every end is like a little game – you never know, it could go down to the last end with all the points.”
For the six mixed doubles and six singles matches, one point was 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.
For ticket and other event information, visit www.curling.ca/2014continentalcup-en/
For live scoring and up-to-date standings, go to: www.curling.ca/2014continentalcup-en/results/
For the complete schedule, go to: www.curling.ca/2014continentalcup-en/draw-schedule/
TSN (RDS2 in French), the exclusive television network for the CCA’s Season of Champions, will provide complete coverage of the WFG Continental Cup.
This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at http://www.curling.ca/2014continentalcup-fr/