Sports

Martin to help lead Team North America

OLYMPIC gold medallist Kevin Martin will help lead the charge for Team North America during the Continental Cup at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton Jan. 10 to 13. - CCA/Michael Burns
OLYMPIC gold medallist Kevin Martin will help lead the charge for Team North America during the Continental Cup at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton Jan. 10 to 13.
— image credit: CCA/Michael Burns

Everything about Kelley Law’s first experience in the Continental Cup was positive, except for one.

Her team managed just two of 52 points during the 2002 event. She enjoyed the curling, fellowships, fans and drama that came with Team North America finally prevailing, thanks to Kevin Martin’s skins victory over Sweden’s Peja Lindholm of Team Europe/World in the final match of the inaugural event at Regina’s Agridome.

“It was really different,” said Law, the 2000 Scotties Tournament of Hearts and world champion. “When we went, we probably didn’t prepare the same as usual and we regret that now. But it was such a different, exciting event, being part of a huge team. It was good. Going into this one, now that I’ve been in a Continental Cup, I’m still kind of learning because the formats have changed over the years.”

The 2013 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Monsanto, begins tomorrow and runs through Sunday at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

Law, a Coquitlam realtor, isn’t playing this year but is assisting Rick Lang with coaching duties. Law is taking a year off from competitive curling this season.

“I’m really excited that I can sit back and watch some great curling and support the curlers in any way that I can, and also support Rick in helping choose lineups and giving my opinion,” said Law. “Any help the players need, I’ll be there for them. It’ll be different, but I think it’ll be really great.”

Law and Lang will guide a power-packed North American team that features Canadian men’s teams skipped by reigning world champ Glenn Howard of Coldwater, Ont., and 2010 Olympic gold-medallist Kevin Martin of Edmonton, and women’s teams skipped by world bronze-medallist Heather Nedohin of Edmonton and former world champ Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg.

Martin will be returning to the ice following surgery three-and-a-half weeks ago, which he’s recovering well from and looking forward to getting back in the action.

“I have thrown a few times and feel OK,” wrote Martin in an email.

“The Continental Cup is a unique event that involves curling under different rules and formats each day,” said Martin. “The coaches’ ability to best match up our talent against the opposition makes a huge difference in this event. “

Martin also said that curling fans will get to see the best curlers from around the world.

The North American team is rounded out by U.S. teams skipped by reigning national champs Heath McCormick of Lansing, Mich. (who now calls Sarnia, Ont., home) and Allison Pottinger of St. Paul, Minn.

Team North America and Team World have alternated victories since the first event in 2002, each with four. Last year in Langley the World team prevailed 235-165.

The 2013 version of Team World will again be led by Scottish captain David Hay and Lindholm as the coach. The team features reigning Ford world women’s champion Mirjam Ott of Davos, Switzerland, along with the team she defeated in last year’s world final, Margaretha Sigfridsson of Skellefteå, Sweden. Scottish teams skipped by two-time world men’s silver-medallist Tom Brewster and Eve Muirhead, Niklas  Edin of Sweden, and Thomas Ulsrud of Norway, round out the World entry.

In an email, Ott said her team is excited.

“It’s always good having an invitation for the Continental Cup,” she wrote. “We love to play this format. It’s a really good experience for improving the teamwork between the Europeans’ team. It’s great playing against the best North Amercan teams, having a big crowd and enjoying the arena ice.”

There will be a new scoring system for the 2013 WFG Continental Cup, with the first side getting to 30.5 points being declared the winner of the Continental Cup.

There will now be 18 team games (nine men’s and nine women’s), each worth one point for a win, and one-half point for a tie. All games are eight ends and there are no extra ends.  For the six mixed doubles and six singles matches, one point will also be awarded for each victory, one-half point if tied.

The six skins games (two mixed, two women’s and two men’s) now offer a total of five points per game, with the first six ends of each game worth one-half point each, while the seventh and eighth ends are worth one point each. In skins, a count of at least two with last rock or a steal is required in order to win an end.  Otherwise, the points carry over.

The winning side receives $52,000 Cdn ($2,000 per member, including captain and coach), while the losing side gets $26,000 ($1,000 per member, including captain and coach). As well, the side that generates the highest points total from the six skins games will receive an additional $13,000 ($500 per player, plus captain and coach).

 

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