Fitting its team name, a world-class lineup will comprise Team World for the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming, next January in Las Vegas.
The reigning world men’s and women’s champions will headline the Team World squad, which will be aiming to end a three-year losing streak when curling’s version of the Ryder Cup takes place Jan. 14-17 at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
Sweden’s Niklas Edin, who won gold at the Ford World Men’s Championship in Halifax last April, and Switzerland’s Alina Pätz, the gold-medallist at the ZEN-NOH World Women’s Championship, presented by Ford of Canada, last March in Sapporo, Japan, were among the six teams (three of each gender) named to Team World.
They’ll be joined in Las Vegas by 2014 World Men’s Champion Thomas Ulsrud of Norway, 2013 World Women’s Champion Eve Muirhead of Scotland and Japan’s Ayumi Ogasawara, who finished a respectable 6-5 at the 2015 women’s worlds in her hometown. China has agreed to send a men’s team to round out the Team World lineup, and will decide its representatives in early October.
The Team World squad will be coached by 2002 Olympic men’s gold-medallist Pål Trulsen of Norway and captained by two-time world men’s silver-medallist Andy Kapp of Germany.
“Yes, Team World will be ready to get the Cup away from North America,” said Kapp. “We are all highly motivated for one of the biggest curling shows of next season. I expect fantastic shots from the best players on this planet — Let’s rock Las Vegas !!”
“We know we’ve got our work cut out for us,” noted Team North America coach Rick Lang of Thunder Bay, Ont. “Pål and Andy will have a motivated group of curlers in Las Vegas who will be eager to end their losing streak, so our team will have to arrive in Las Vegas focused and ready to work hard.”
Lang will be joined in Las Vegas by first-year captain Ann Swisshelm, it was also announced today. The Chicago resident is a five-time U.S. women’s champion and a gold-medallist at the 2003 Ford World Women’s Championship in Winnipeg, and also represented the U.S. at the 2002 and 2014 Winter Olympics. Swisshelm also played in three editions of the World Financial Group Continental Cup — in 2003 at Thunder Bay, Ont. (lost), in 2011 at St. Albert, Alta. (won) and in 2014 at Las Vegas (won).
“I’m beyond thrilled,” said Swisshelm. “What a crazy, amazing honour of a lifetime to work with the fantastic athletes of Team North America, coach Rick Lang, Curling Canada, and the host committee in Las Vegas. Pinch me!” enthused Swisshelm. “Having played in the 2014 Cup in Vegas, where there were tons of fans, great ice, a beautiful venue and killer competition, I can’t wait to return and bring all I can from the bench to help Team North America hoist the Cup once again in Las Vegas.”
Lang and Swisshelm won’t know their final lineup until December. The 2015 World Financial Group Continental Cup in Calgary featured an all-Canadian home team, but with the event’s return to Las Vegas, Team North America will return, with two U.S. teams joining four Canadian teams.
Already qualified for Team North America are the reigning Canadian champions — Pat Simmons of Calgary won the 2015 Tim Hortons Brier, while Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg prevailed at the 2015 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
The two U.S. entries will be decided based on World Curling Tour results through Nov. 17 (click here for information).
And the final two Canadian teams will be the men’s and women’s champions of the 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup, presented by Meridian Manufacturing, Dec. 2 to 6 in Grande Prairie, Alta..
After setting an event attendance record with the wildly successful 2014 edition of the World Financial Group Continental Cup at Orleans Arena, ticket sales indicate another record will be set next January.
”Since we eclipsed the 4,000 mark for Old Classic full event packages in April, ticket sales through the summer have continued at an astonishing clip of 125 packages each month, taking us to more than 4,500,” said event manager Jon Killoran. “There is no doubt that a new attendance record will be set, and curling fans should act quickly to get best available seats for every draw, prior to the launch of mini packs and single draw tickets in November.”
Ticket information is available at www.curling.ca/2016continentalcup/tickets/.
There are also hotel packages available for the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup. Go towww.curling.ca/2016continentalcup/visitor-guide/where-to-stay/ for information.
TSN, Canada’s leading sports network, along with French language sports network RDS, will televise all of the action from Las Vegas.
Team World Lineups
Niklas Edin (Sweden)
Thomas Ulsrud (Norway)
Håvard Vad Petersson
Eve Muirhead (Scotland)
Alina Pätz (Switzerland)
Ayumi Ogasawara (Japan)
Captain: Andy Kapp (Germany)
Coach: Pål Trulsen (Norway)