World of wonder

CON GRIWKOWSKY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:57 AM ET

CAMROSE -- Team World has arrived here for the sixth Continental Cup with a quiet sense of confidence.

There's both motivation and excitation in a re-formatted lineup that is behind 3-2 to Team North America in curling's version of the Ryder Cup.

They used to be Team Europe, but the way the Chinese teams performed at last year's world championships made it impossible to continue with the old format.

Bingyu (Betty) Wang charmed the curling world before losing the championship final to Winnipeg's Jennifer Jones. And Fengchun Wang skipped a playoff team in the men's worlds.

STRONG LINEUP

When the lineups for this week's event were announced months ago, nobody could have envisioned how strong a lineup the Europeans would have brought here.

Team captain Pal Trulsen of Norway and coach Peja Lindholm have been handed the strongest lineup ever and one that will help erase the worst loss by Team Europe in the event's history last year. It was all over by Saturday night as Team North America clobbered Team Europe 290-110.

"If we want to buy some lottery tickets, we should let the World Curling Federation pick the numbers," said Trulsen about hitting the jackpot with this lineup.

"That's lucky this year. It's for sure, the strongest team we can have now.

"If we had a stronger team, I don't know. I don't think so. If we lose, they'll blame the captain, like they always blame the skip."

David Murdoch of Lockerbie, Scotland, skips the only returning team from the 2007 event.

Fresh off a European championship title he won Sunday over Continental Cup teammate Thomas Ulsrud, Murdoch is set to get down to business.

"It's the best four from Europe we could have brought," said Murdoch, the only holdover from last year's squad.

"We've been partying quite a bit since (the) Europeans, so we'll need to concentrate. It's going to be a bit difficult, being tired from last week. We'll see what we can do."

This is Murdoch's fourth Continental Cup appearance and it's hard to imagine a Team World squad with less confidence than they did for the previous five starts.

"All four of us coming in from Europe had a good last weekend, so we're coming in with lots of confidence," said Ulsrud.

"I think North America is in for a fight this weekend. We'll come back strong this year.

WOMEN OF THE WORLD

Ulsrud figures the women will carry the ball for Team World.

"The women's side is especially strong," Ulsrud said. "On the men's side, we're going to be up against some great teams, so we'll just try to keep it close."

European champion Mirjam Ott of Switzerland beat her teammate for this week, Anette Norberg.

That means all four European teams are coming into this event at the top of their games and fresh off a highly-competitive weekend.

Unless the teams, who arrived here on Tuesday, come up with a sudden case of jet-lag, they stand a good chance of evening up the series.

Norberg is making her fourth Continental Cup appearances and is cautiously optimistic because this event is like no other and she knows anything can happen.

"Maybe it's the strongest lineup Europe ever had," said Norberg a two-time world champion.

"It's quite a different type of game, so you never know what's going to happen.

"China seems to be quite strong as well."

Norberg and her team had a 24-hour flight and a short drive before making it into Camrose late Tuesday.

"I think we are getting stronger tomorrow," Norberg said with a laugh.

"I think it's the most fun competition you play in because it's a bit more relaxed than going into the worlds or the Europeans. It's a good thing to be part of a big team when you can come in here and cheer for others. It's a lot of fun."

Once the jet lag wears off, Team North America is going to have to be sharp to keep up with this lineup.


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