- It wasn't the start 2003 world champion Debbie McCormick (Rio, Wis.) was looking for as she took the ice in the first draw of the 2008 Continental Cup of Curling Thursday morning, suffering a 10-3 loss at the hands of Team World's Mirjam Ott rink.
McCormick's North American counterparts didn't hold up their end of the bargain either as Team World jumped out to a 15-3 lead in the overall standings at this Ryder Cup-like competition at the Edgeworth Center, about an hour south of Edmonton.
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.
Ott, fresh off a gold medal at last week's European Championships, was in fine form as her team quickly adapted to the speed of the ice, jumping out to a 5-0 lead after just two ends. The Americans found themselves in trouble early in the second end as they knew they needed to get some points on the scoreboard.
"The ice was really curling hard at the end, and we had some guards over-curl and got into trouble," said McCormick, the winner of the past three U.S. national titles. "We found ourselves down three so we played aggressive. Tracy and Nicole played really well, but Allison and I struggled." The Swiss lead got her center guard up with another stone on the four-foot, fully buried, to assist in the eventual steal of two. Key misses by the Americans as the end unraveled got worse when Ott made a double takeout to leave three Swiss stones in the house. McCormick tried to draw down to the four-foot but was heavy.
The Americans didn't get an opportunity to get a big end set up in the third either as McCormick was forced to make a hit for one.
After giving up a four-ender in the fourth, McCormick and teammates Allison Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.), Nicole Joraanstad (Madison, Wis.) and Tracy Sachtjen (Lodi, Wis.) found themselves quickly running out of time as the team competitions at this event are just eight ends, not 10 like in world and national championship play.
"Once we were so far behind we knew we needed to keep playing aggressive, but we struggled with rock positioning and broom placement," said McCormick, who is playing in her fourth Continental Cup.
The Americans would settle for another single in the sixth but couldn't get a steal set up to put the pressure on the Swiss as they coasted to the victory. Ott, a two-time Olympic silver medalist, also won bronze at last year's world championship in Vernon, British Columbia.
"It's the first game so it's good to stay out there and play and work out the things we had trouble with," McCormick said.
The other two North American teams found themselves trailing in the final end as well but Jennifer Jones was able to tie Anette Norberg to put the first points on the board for Team North America. Extra ends aren't used at this event so games ending in a tie result in a split of the available points.
Team World's Bingyu Wang team from China handed North America's Stefanie Lawton an 8-3 defeat, capitalizing on key steals in the last two ends to seal the win. Wang's team was the surprise team of the 2008 Women's World Championships, where they earned the silver medal after defeating Canada twice during the event.
In this afternoon action's, mixed doubles will feature the U.S. pairing of Craig Brown (Madison, Wis.) and Pottinger taking on Team World's Anette Norberg (Sweden) and Torger Nergard (Norway). 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 (Ott) 320 401 0X 10
North America (McCormick) 001 010 1X 3
*World (Wang) 010 103 12 8
North America (Lawton) 002 010 00 3
*World (Norberg) 210 001 00 4
North America (Jones) 001 100 02 4
*last rock in first end
Standings (after one event):
Team North America 3
Team World 15
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS (all times local)
Thursday, December 18
Draw 2 - 1 p.m. - Mixed Doubles
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.
For more information:
Terry Kolesar, USA Curling, firstname.lastname@example.org,
715-344-1199, Ext. 202, or