Three days of team and mixed doubles play didn’t settle much, so it will take Sunday’s final two sessions of skins games to decide the winner of the 2018 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Service Experts.
Team North America, looking for a sixth straight Cup title, split the three points available in the three team games Saturday night to take a one-point edge into Sunday, 15.5 to 14.5
“They set it up that way on purpose I think so it should make for some exciting curling tomorrow,” said U.S. skip John Shuster of Team North America, who gave up a deuce in the final end and had to settle for a 7-7 tie with Peter De Cruz.
Kevin Koe, who skipped his Team North America squad to a 9-6 win over Team World’s Niklas Edin, agreed the format is designed to create the big finish on Sunday.
“Typically that’s the way these things go. It’s a little heavily weighted towards the skins and that’s fine, you want it to come down to the big games on Sunday,” he said. “The more the pressure the more the fun.”
In Saturday evening’s other game, Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni got Team World off and running by stealing five in the first end and two more in the third to cruise past Team North America’s Michelle Englot 9-4.
There are 60 points available over four days of competition featuring traditional team games, mixed doubles and skins game but half of those points are to be won on Sunday. The first team to reach 30.5 points is declared the winner.
North America has won the last five competitions after the teams had split the first eight years.
Team North America led by three points after Friday but Team World won two of three mixed doubles matches in Saturday morning’s draw and the teams split the three points available in the afternoon team games.
All of that, however, was merely an appetizer for Sunday’s finale where Team World will try to end a five-year losing streak at the Continental Cup.
“It always comes down to Sunday,” said Team World’s Thomas Ulsrud, who lost 7-2 to Brad Gushue Saturday afternoon but gets a rematch with the reigning Tim Hortons Brier and world champions in Sunday’s 7 p.m. final session.
“That’s the fun part of this … there lots of points on the line and we’re playing these guys again so I’m looking forward to that,” he said.
Gushue said the skins play is obviously different from regular team play “because you can go all or nothing every end, so skins is a different beast. 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 Nina Roth of Team North America is looking forward to.
“We’re excited to play (Satsuki) 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. This is how it lines up:
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)