Great Continental divide

JOE PAVIA -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:30 AM ET

The Continental Cup of Curling gets lost at this time of year, but it displays some of the sport's most entertaining events.

The Cup, beginning tomorrow, brings Europe's best to Medicine Hat, Alta., to face the best from North America for four days of unique curling.

Four events comprise the array of disciplines showcased: Team games, a skins game (including mixed), a singles competition involving six basic shots in which each of four team members has to throw at least one of the shots, and a mixed doubles game with only a male and female thrower on each side.

The World Curling Federation is attempting to include this mixed doubles format in the Olympics as a full-medal sport. Finland hosts the first mixed doubles world championship next year.

A points system determines the Continental Cup winners. Team games are worth 72 points, mixed doubles 36, singles 32 and skins 260. The first side to 201 points wins.

North America and Europe have each won twice in the Cup's four-year history. North America got clobbered last year.

Europe's team consists of European champ David Murdoch, Andreas Schwaller of Switzerland, Andy Kapp of Germany, Liudmila Privivkova of Russia, Angelina Jensen of Denmark and Kelly Wood of Scotland.

Fellow Scot Rhona Martin, the 2002 Olympic champion, is captain while Rodger Schmidt is coach.

For North America, three-time Brier winner and two-time world champ Pat Ryan coaches teams skipped by Glenn Howard, Randy Ferbey, Kelly Scott, Jennifer Jones, Todd Birr and Debbie McCormick. Elaine Dagg-Jackson is coach. Ottawa players Craig Savill and Dawn Askin are leads for Howard and Jones.

CBC airs the women's skins on tape delay Saturday at 1:30 p.m., followed by the men's skins at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

Expect a lopsided North American victory, but look out for the Russians.

OCA ZONE RESULTS: Scott Tournament of Hearts and TSC Stores Tankard winners: Zone 1A -- Jenn Hanna and Andrew Mikkelsen; B -- Lauren Mann and Matt Paul; 2A -- Joyce Potter and J.P. Lachance; B -- Tracy Samaan (men's result not available at press time); 3A -- Barb Kelly and Damien Villard; B -- Debra Karbashewski and Josh Adams; 4A -- Alison Levere and Rob Dickson; B -- Lisa Farnell and Jim Marshall. Gore Mutual Schoolgirl and Schoolboy zone winners: Shannon Harrington, Crystal Lillico, Geoff Spruit and Curtis Collins.

CANADA CUP NOTES: The John Shea Insurance Canada Cup Qualifier begins today in Ottawa. The 48-team event is now down to 46 with some varied combinations. Only half of the Kevin Martin team will be here for sure. With Martin resting between events, John Morris returns to Ottawa to skip. Lead Ben Hebert may move to second if Mark Kennedy, who is awaiting a birth, does not show up. Their third will be Saskatchewan's Dave Kidby. The new lead may be Ward Matheson, the general manager of Fugro SESL Geomatics, one of Team Martin's sponsors. The other no-show is Wayne Middaugh, whose zone competition was switched to this weekend. Expect surprises and a Reid Carruthers-Kevin Koe final with Carruthers winning. The women's Canada Cup Qualifier takes place at the same time, with Rachel Homan and Hanna representing Ottawa.

CURLING THIS WEEK: Rogers Television broadcasts the JSI on tape delay Sunday. A semi-final airs at 5 p.m., followed by the final at 8 p.m.


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