In a city known for heavyweight prize fights, the early results of the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming, indicate we’re in for one on the Orleans Arena curling ice.
The first draw of curling’s version of the Ryder Cup produced a split decision — Team North America won a game, Team World won a game and the third game ended in a tie in traditional team competition.
That means both teams will put 1.5 points in the bank; a total of 60 are available over the four days of traditional team, skins and mixed doubles competition, and the first team to 30.5 will win the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup.
The tie was produced in dramatic fashion in what proved to be a roller-coaster game. Team World’s Eve Muirhead raced to a 4-0 lead through three ends (thanks to a steal of two in the second and one more in the third), gave five back to Team North America’s Rachel Homan in the seventh end to go down by two points, and then made a hit to score a game-tying deuce in the eighth and final end to produce an 8-8 tie.
“That was an interesting game, for sure. We came out of the box really sharp and we got that four-point lead pretty quickly,” said Muirhead. “But two really slack shots for me in the seventh end, which I’m not used to doing that often. It made it pretty tough, but my team played great out there, and if we can just get rid of those one or two slack ends, we’ll be pretty good.”
“It didn’t start off great but we were pretty happy at the halfway point (after a score of three in the fourth end) and then we got the lead in the seventh end,” added Team Homan vice-skip Emma Miskew. “Getting the half-point means a lot to the team.”
In the other women’s game Thursday morning, reigning world champ Alina Pätz and her Swiss team cruised to an 8-2 win over the U.S. women’s team skipped by Erika Brown.
The Swiss scored three in the second end and stole two more in the third and never looked back.
“It’s awesome,” said Pätz of her World Financial Group Continental Cup debut. “The arena is awesome, the team is awesome, we’re having a good time. A little bit nervous today, but we had a good start to the game — so far, so good.”
In the lone men’s game, Calgary’s Kevin Koe raced to a 9-5 win over Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud to collect a full point for Team North America.
Koe scored three in the second end and five more in the fourth en route to the win. The same teams played in the final of the Perth Mercure Masters this past Sunday in Scotland, with Koe prevailing 7-4/
“We really, I think, dominated them today, had them in trouble every end and played really well,” said Koe. “It’s funny; we were just playing them a few days ago over in Scotland, and here we go again. They’re a great team; they were a little off today, but for us, it’s just nice to get off to a good start.”
The teams are now focusing on curling after a few days earlier in the week to get a taste of the Las Vegas Strip.
“I can’t quite remember; what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” said a laughing Muirhead. “But we’ve had a good few nights here.”
The 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup continues today with the first mixed doubles draw, at 1 p.m. (all times Pacific).