LONDON, Ont. – Team World’s Thomas Ulsrud had just taken a 7-2 beating at the hands of Team North America’s Brad Gushue, yet he had a smile on his face thinking about their rematch in Sunday’s skins games that could ultimately decide who wins the 2018 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Service Experts.
“We didn’t get off to a good start and Brad and the boys are one of the best teams in the business, so you get down like we did we have to gamble, and they played the safe shots, so it was an uphill struggle,” Ulsrud said after his team fell behind 5-0 after three ends and were never able to recover.
“I like to play them again, get a rerun tomorrow, so looking forward to that one,” he added. “That’s the fun part of it. Tomorrow there’s lots of points on the line and we’ve playing these guys again so I’m looking forward to that.”
The win by Gushue was Team North America’s only win of the afternoon, but it kept them in good position to win the event for a sixth straight year. Rachel Homan and her reigning Scotties and world championship team continued to struggle, losing 7-2 to Team World’s Satsuki Fujisawa. North America’s Nina Roth missed a chance for two in the eighth end and settled for a single and a 5-5 tie with Team World’s Anna Hasselborg
Each win was worth one point, the tie was worth a half point to each side, and the results left Team North America holding tight to a one-point lead, 13.5 to 12.5, heading into Saturday evening’s draw of team games.
A total of 60 points are available over the four days of competition, which features traditional team games, mixed doubles games and skins games, with the first team to reach 30.5 points declared the winner. On Sunday, two rounds of skins games will decide 30 points.
Gushue and his 2017 Tim Hortons Brier and Ford World Men’s championship crew scored two in the first end then stole one in the second and two in the third for a five-point margin that he maintained to the end.
“It was one of the games,” he said. “We were never really in any trouble and we got more misses than we certainly anticipated from a team like Thomas.
“Tomorrow’s a little different because you can go all or nothing every end, so skins is a different beast,” he added. “I don’t want to say there’s a little luck involved, but certainly a little more timeliness. You make the right shot at the right time it can really set you up, so every team goes aggressive.”
Being able to play aggressive is what Roth is looking forward to after having to settle for a tie.
“It’s a little bittersweet because I know we had the deuce lined up in that last end and could have taken the full point,” she said. “It’s a little bit different game to play because you have to play for the tie, so it was a little extra thinking, little extra brain power in that couple of ends.
“We’re excited to play Fujisawa again, get another shot at those girls and have fun playing skins. You get to be a little more aggressive and play the way we like to way, aggressive.”
There are two rounds of skins competition Sunday, at 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., and following Saturday morning’s mixed doubles draw, the team captains and coaches made their selections for the skins matchups.
Here’s a look at how things will shake down on Sunday:
A (Women) — Team Fujisawa (World) vs. Team Roth (North America)
B (Mixed) — Oskar Eriksson, Anna Hasselborg, Christopher Sundgren, Sofia Mabergs (Team World) vs. Marc Kennedy, Kate Cameron, Ben Hebert, Leslie Wilson (Team North America)
C (Men) — Team De Cruz (World) vs. Team Shuster (North America)
A (Women) — Team Tirinzoni (World) vs. Team Homan (North America)
B (Mixed) — Niklas Edin, Sara McManus, Rasmus Wranå, Agnes Knochenhauer (World) vs. Kevin Koe, Michelle Englot, Brent Laing, Raunora Westcott (North America)
C (Men) — Team Ulsrud (World) vs. Team Gushue (North America)