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Continental Cup 2002

Team North America prevails by a nose in Keg Continental Cup

by Jeff Timson, St Clair's Group.

Regina, November 10, 2002

Team North America scored a come-from-behind thriller over Team World Sunday at the Agridome by literally stealing the inaugural Keg Continental Cup.

The unique international curling event packaged all of its drama into last rock. Team North America had started the game behind 176-164. However, they had battled back to take an overall 194-193 lead over Team World, with one end to go, as long-time rivals Canada’s Kevin Martin and Sweden’s Peja Lindholm were centre stage in the 60-point men’s Skins game struggle.

While the eighth and final end was worth 13 ‘skin’ points, it was really worth $125,000 to the winning side and bragging rights to the winner for the next year. What a finish it turned into, a championship chess match on ice.

Martin, who had never before been able to claim a world title, falling short in one world juniors, two Worlds and two Olympics, finally got the job done… in tremendously exciting fashion. With his last rock, he angled off one of his own, pushing another of his stones an inch closer to the button to lay shot rock over a Lindholm stone resting at the back of the button.

That forced the two-time world champion Swedish skip to try a ‘20-foot double raise’ with his final hope, but all he managed to do was move Martin’s rock even closer to the pin. No measurement was necessary and North America had won the ‘Cup’ on a steal of a ‘skin’. The final score of the game was 43-17, making the overall total Team North America 207-Team World 193.

"It got incredibly tense," said Martin, a two-time Brier winner and very successful Skins game veteran. "I have never experienced anything like that. You watch the other team’s play and you’re just dying with every shot they make."

The teams were tied at 10 after four ends, after Martin opened by stealing the first end, worth four points, then Lindholm taking 10 points by stealing the third end with the carry-over. Martin came back with hammer by taking the six-point fourth end.

After Lindholm, who had never played a competitive Skins game format before, took seven points in the fifth end by counting two, Martin had to first make a double, then a draw to the button in the sixth to force a carry-over worth 20 points in the seventh.

Martin appeared to invite Lindholm to force a carry-over, when, counting two, he left a wide-open draw for his rival. But Lindholm chose instead to try a double and just missed, giving Team North America 20 points on the steal, but retaining hammer for the eight end, setting the stage for the last end dramatics.

The four-day Keg Continental Cup was sanctioned by the World Curling Federation, USA Curling and the Canadian Curling Association. It offered a $200,000 (Cdn) purse, with the winning side receiving $125,000, the losing side sharing $75,000.

Six teams from Team North America competed against six teams from The World, in four different types of events. The Team games, worth 72 points and the Mixed Doubles, valued at 36 points, were contested on Thursday and Friday.

On Saturday, 12 Singles games, the shot-making skills contest, offered a total of 32 points (two points for each win plus an eight-point bonus for highest aggregate score). Then came the Skins games. Two women’s and two men’s games, worth a total of 140 points, were played Saturday afternoon and evening, followed by two Skins games, worth 60 points each today. The side to earn at least 201 of the 400 available points was declared the champion.


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