(CAMROSE, Alberta) - The arrival of Santa Claus to the Edgeworth Arena Thursday afternoon means that Allison Pottinger and Craig Brown were on the "Bad List" this year as his appearance didn't help deliver a win for the Americans in the second round of competition at the 2008 Continental Cup of Curling.
Brown (Madison, Wis.) and Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.) teamed up in mixed doubles competition against 2006 Olympic gold medalist Anette Norberg (Sweden) and Torger Nergard of Team World, losing 7-5. Team World extended its overall lead to 30-6.
"We weren't quite as good as we needed to be," said Brown, the two-time U.S. men's champion. "They started out the ends really well getting those freezes, and our second stones needed to be better."
Mixed doubles features two players per team as opposed to the traditional four-person curling teams. Each game consists of eight ends with variations from the regular game. Each team delivers five stones per end with one player delivering the first and fifth stones and the other team member throwing the stones in between. Prior to the start of each end, one team shall instruct the game umpire to place their team's stationary stone and the opposing team's stationary stone either as a guard outside the house bisecting the center line or on the back half of the button. Sweeping is allowed but with just two players that means either the thrower will sweep their own stone or the other team member will leave the house to sweep.
Norberg, the runner-up at last week's European Championships, drew for two points to open up the game. The Americans had a really good end going in the second but Nergard made a stellar triple takeout to steal the momentum. Pottinger's last stone of the end would over-curl resulting in a steal of one for Team World. They would make up for it in the third end, however, with back-to-back freezes to stones around the four-foot that allowed Pottinger to draw for three and tie the game.
Norberg was forced to draw for one in the fourth end and the Americans enjoyed a momentary lead in the fifth end after Pottinger converted a draw of her own for two. They got a break in the sixth end when Norberg came up short drawing for two but Pottinger couldn't remove the Team World stone sitting on the button in the seventh end, resulting in a steal for Norberg and Nergard.
With the stationary stone in place on the button in the eighth end in favor of the Americans, they needed to protect it and try for two points to win. Norberg used the first stone of the end, however, to softly tap back the American stone and take shot position. A freeze by Nergard gave them two around the button. Brown removed one with his first raise attempt but couldn't get it out with his other two tries. Pottinger needed to draw down and nudge back the Team World stone still sitting at the back of the button but needed an inch or two more.
"It didn't really matter if there was more or less weight or curl...it was pretty close," Brown said of the final stone.
Although they won a team mixed title together back in 2000, Brown said the mixed doubles format is not the same. "This is a lot different, and that was a long time ago," Brown said and laughed. "It was really nice to play with Allison. We've been friends for a long time."
Team North America didn't fare so well in the other two matches either. Canada's Jennifer Jones and Marc Kennedy scored five points in the opening end but watched as Team World's duo of Catherine Lindahl (Sweden) and Thomas Ulsrud (Norway) stole singles in the last two ends to tie the game 7-7. (Games at this event don't go to extra ends; points are awarded to both sides equally). Jones's teammate Cathy Overton-Clapham and Kevin Koe couldn't keep up with the tandem of Ewan MacDonald (Scotland) and Mirjam Ott (Switzerland) as they gave up big ends in a 12-6 loss.
The Continental Cup involves team games (72 points), mixed doubles (36 points), singles (32 points) and skins (men's, women's and mixed, worth a total of 260 points). The first side to score 201 points is declared the winner.
The U.S. men's team featuring Brown, Rich Ruohonen (Brooklyn Park, Minn.), John Dunlop (Milwaukee, Wis.) and Pete Annis (Owatonna, Minn.) will play Scotland's David Murdoch team at 7 tonight.
The Continental Cup is a joint effort of the Canadian Curling Association, World Curling Federation and the United States Curling Association. This is the sixth Continental Cup, with North America holding a 3-2 advantage over Team World.
*World (Norberg-Nergard) 210 101 11 7
North America (Pottinger-Brown) 003020 00 5
*World (Lindahl-Ulsrud) 010 310 11 7
North America (Jones-Kennedy) 501 001 00 7
World (Ott-MacDonald) 105 032 01 12
North America (Koe-Overton-Clapham) 020 100 30 6
*last rock in first end
Standings (after one event):
Team North America 6
Team World 30
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS (all times local)
Thursday, December 18
Draw 3 - 7 p.m. - Men's Team Games
Friday, December 19
Draw 4 - 8:30 a.m. - Women's Team Games
Draw 5 - 1 p.m. - Mixed Doubles
Draw 6 - 8 p.m. - Men's Team Games
Saturday, December 20
Draw 7 - 10 a.m. - Skins Games (Men's, Women's and Mixed A)
Draw 8 - 4 p.m. - Singles
Draw 9 - 7:30 p.m. - Skins Games (Men's, Women's and Mixed B)
Sunday, December 21
Draw 10 - 8:30 a.m. - Final Women's Skins Game
Draw 11 - 2 p.m. - Final Men's Skins Game Closing Ceremonies - 4:15 p.m.
USA Curling is sponsored by AIT Worldwide Logistics, AmerAust Technologies and Nike.
715-344-1199, Ext. 202, or 608-338-9900 (cell).