We ain't a-skin, we're takin' it!

TODD SAELHOF -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

Have no fear, North American curling fans.

Randy Ferbey and Glenn Howard are here to wrest control of the Continental Cup back from those pesky Europeans.

The 2007 edition of the annual Ryder Cup-esque curling event begins tomorrow in Medicine Hat, where the legendary Ferbey and world champion Howard lead the North Americans in a unique international battle.

Both Europe and North America have two wins apiece since the format was introduced in the inaugural Continental Cup at Regina in 2002.

"Last year in Chilliwack, (B.C.), we lost incredibly to the Europeans -- we just didn't play skins very well there," said Continental Cup chairman Des Grant.

"I love our chances this year. With Ferbey and Howard, my goodness, we have two of the top four skins players in the world on our side."

Defending women's world champion Kelly Scott and 2005 Canadian champion Jennifer Jones round out the Canadian contingent, which will be joined by American curlers Todd Birr and Debbie McCormick on the North American squad.

Europe is represented by 2006 world champion David Murdoch of Scotland, who just won his second European championship, 2007 world men's silver medallist Andy Kapp, 2006 European champions Andreas Schwaller of Switzerland and Liudmila Privivkova of Russia, Angelina Jensen of Denmark and Kelly Wood of Scotland.

The Continental Cup format is comprised of four disciplines, each worth a designated number of points.

There are team, mixed doubles and single draws worth 72, 36 and 32 points respectively and skins games worth 260 points. The first side to score 201 points is declared the winner, with each member of the winning team receiving $2,000. Members of the losing side get $1,400 each from the $88,400 purse.

Tickets are still available through www.tixx.ca, and CBC will broadcast the event live Saturday and Sunday.

EXTRA ENDS

The 2008 Continental Cup will be held in Camrose at the newly opened Edgeworth Centre, a 2,500-seat arena facility. With the emergence of the Chinese women's team at last year's worlds, 2008 will be the first Continental Cup billed as North America vs. The World ... After winning the Canadian mixed crown, Dean Ross and Susan O'Connor, both of Calgary, are off to the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship in Vierumaki, Finland, March 9-16. "(Second) Tim Krassman and (lead) Susan Wright did not want to contest who would play and made the decision on their own to allow Susan O'Connor and myself to compete at the worlds," said Ross, who skipped the Alberta champion foursome to the national mixed title last month at the Calgary Curling Club. Krassman and Wright, Ross' wife, will travel with the skip and third O'Connor to support them in Finland ... The road to the Scotties kicked off locally over the weekend with the District A women's playdowns at the Black Diamond Curling Club. Glenys Bakker (Calgary Winter Club), Heather Rankin (Calgary Winter Club), Jennifer Loudon (Medicine Hat), Megan Kirk (Lethbridge), Evelyne Lamontagne (Calgary Curling Club) and Bernice Merrick (Calgary Curling Club) all advanced through the Black Diamond-hosted districts to the Southern playdowns. The District B women's playdowns open Friday in Didsbury. Meanwhile, the District 1 men's playdowns begin Friday in Claresholm ... The southern playdowns for juniors goes Friday through Sunday at Calgary's Ogden Legion Curling Club. Included among the junior men's teams vying for the provincials is the Calgary Winter Club/Springback Curling Club rink skipped by Kevin Yablonski. Among junior women's rinks competing at the Ogden-hosted southern playdowns is Nadine Chyz and Keely Brown.

THE HAMMER

Based on the record turnouts in Edmonton for the 2005 Brier and 2007 men's world championship, the Alberta capital has been touted as a slam-dunk host of the 2010 Canadian Olympic Curling Trials next year. But Kamloops, B.C., has thrown its hat into the ring with a million-dollar guarantee backed by B.C.'s government.


Photos