Today is the final day of the 2019 Continental Cup at the Orleans Arena. Judging by the first three days of competition between Team North America and Team World, the final day could be electric.
The final two sessions are at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. PT. Coverage streams online at ESPN3 and broadcast in Canada on TSN.
The World team has definitely had the better of the North Americans in the first three days. Team World has a commanding five-point lead in the race to 30.5 (17.5 to 12.5). Team North America had been further behind, but swept the final round of scramble play for a crucial six points.
Setting the points aside, the competition has had numerous highlights over the first nine rounds of games. There have been blowouts, close battles, barely missed shots at the absolute worst time and clutch shots to seal the win. Last night’s double by John Shuster of Team North America is a great example of a key shot.
I’ve said that curling is fun to watch, but it’s even more fun to play. The atmosphere at the Orleans Arena almost makes me want to change my position (although I may have different thoughts when I step into the hack for my Monday night league).
The level of competition has been outstanding. It’s thrilling to watch these world-class athletes perform and consistently make shots that would be daunting for the average club curler.
The fans are definitely a key contributor to the fun atmosphere at the Orleans. As a volunteer, I’ve been able to interact with many fans and they’re virtually all positive and upbeat about curling. When the fans are in the stands, the setting becomes dynamic.
The audience doesn’t cheer through the whole game. This is another area where curling is like golf — it can be a quiet as a mouse when a team is setting up a shot, However, the crowd definitely shows its appreciation for great shots and good wins.
At the end of Saturday night’s games, the applause was thunderous after Team North America swept the session. It was awesome to see thousands of cheering curling fans — it’s something that’s not too common at events in the United States (although more common in Canada).
Today, it comes down to the final two rounds of competition — the skins game. Continental Cup supporters like to compare this event to golf’s Ryder Cup and this is one area where the comparison is apt.
There’s a lot of points on the table — five per game. Each end (like a baseball inning) for the first six ends is worth 0.5 points. The last two ends are worth a whole point.
It’s not easy to win a skin. The team with the hammer scoring advantage has to score at least two points to claim their prize. The non-hammer team can steal the skin by scoring one point. If neither team reaches their objective, the skin carries over and the pot grows slightly larger.
WIth a total of 30 points on the table today, either team has a shot to win the Continental Cup. Last year, Team World had been behind, but finished with a strong skins performance — resulting in the first-ever tie at 30-30.
Team North America won the tiebreaker as North America’s Brad Gushue edged out World’s Thomas Ulsrud in a playoff to see which team could get a single stone to the center of the house.
We’ll see today whether the 2019 competition will be as close as last year. Will Team North America complete its comeback or will Team World hold them off and win its first cup in six years? I’m excited to find out.