Local advantage

ANGELA MacISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 6:57 AM ET

We own this game.

No, not hockey, silly.

Curling -- so there's no reason North America shouldn't walk away from the Continental Cup, starting Thursday, with a victory over Europe.

That's the word from curling legend Ed Lukowich, who will steer the North American team in this weekend's $200,000 event in Medicine Hat.

"We think we own this sport," Lukowich said yesterday. "We figure every competition we go into we're going to win."

Why not? That's the way Americans enter golf's Ryder Cup, upon which the Continental Cup is based.

"Whether we have our heads in the sand or not, I don't know," he said. "But it has seemed to work over the years."

And look at who North America is throwing into the fire: Rinks skipped by Colleen Jones, 2004 national and world women's champion; Randy Ferbey, 2004 Canada Cup champ; Mark Dacey, 2004 national men's champ; Marie-France Larouche, 2004 national runner-up; Patti Lank, 2004 U.S. women's champ; and Jason Larway, 2004 U.S. men's champ.

But the European team isn't exactly full of slouches, either. It has Scotland's David Murdoch, 2003 European men's champion; Switzerland's Luzia Ebnother, 2002 Olympic women's runner-up; Norway's Dordi Nordby, 2004 world women's runner-up; Sweden's Peja Lindholm, 2004 world men's champ; Sweden's Annette Norberg, 2003 European women's champ; and Germany's Sebastian Stock, 2004 world men's runner-up.

And Lukowich has the unenviable task of figuring out who plays whom in the four points events (mixed doubles, team, singles and skins).

"Yeah, they're tough decisions but fun decisions," he said.

"When you have someone like Lindholm on the men's side, who has won three worlds before, obviously he's seen big teams like Kevin Martin and Randy Ferbey before and he's not afraid."

And everyone expects to see the Lindholm-Ferbey matchup in Sunday's men's skins final, worth an extra $25,000 for TV entertainment value.

It would be the first time the two titan teams have faced off in a meaningful game.

"Lindholm and Ferbey did play together in the final skins game of the Continental Cup last year but," Lukowich said. "You're right, they've never really played a really big match on the world stage, not even in the semifinals of a worlds.

"The closest they came was in 2001 at the Lausanne worlds. They played the final game of the round-robin and Lindholm won.

"But it wasn't a make-or-break game."

Lukowich agreed curling fans are interested in how a big game would play out against the two teams, which both have won multiple world championships.

And there's a good chance he'll make it happen.

But not necessarily.

"We as captains have to make that decision based on who is playing the best and who is hottest at that time," he said.

"But you also have to look at who has experience in that situation.

"A team could be playing hot in the event but may have very little experience playing in skins. Skins is a totally different game than real curling.

"I wouldn't want to toss a team in there that doesn't have any experience in skins games."

BRUST BURSTS THROUGH: Calgary skip Ralph Brust got into the win column yesterday at the national mixed championship in Prince Albert.

Brust and his Grande Prairie teammates, third Karen Powell, second Ken Powell and lead Tina McDonald, edged Newfoundland's Mark Nichols in the second draw of the week-long event.

Brust got deuces in the second and fourth ends and then stole a single in the fifth to take a commanding lead.

Brust lost again last night to Kamloops, B.C.'s Scott DeCap 7-3.


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