Canadian flock to Continental Cup debut in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS — Curling has arrived in the land of gambling, showgirls and mega-buffets. The World Financial Group Continental Cup is being held this week at the 5,000-seat Orleans Arena, just a few blocks away from the casinos, bright lights and showrooms on the famous Las Vegas Strip. Now in its 10th year, the four-day event features six teams from North America facing off against six World teams.

LAS VEGAS — Curling has arrived in the land of gambling, showgirls and mega-buffets.

The World Financial Group Continental Cup is being held this week at the 5,000-seat Orleans Arena, just a few blocks away from the casinos, bright lights and showrooms on the famous Las Vegas Strip. Now in its 10th year, the four-day event features six teams from North America facing off against six World teams.

Veteran skip Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg, who is using the event as a tune-up for next month’s Sochi Olympics, has curled all over the world. But she says Vegas has been a unique experience.

“You get piped through a casino, who gets bag-piped through a casino?” she said. “I think it’s great for curling to have it in such a big city like Las Vegas and any exposure we can get is fantastic.”

While taking curling to the desert may seem like a gamble — last year’s event was held in Penticton, B.C. — ticket sales have been brisk, according to organizing committee co-chair Anne Warner Cribbs. More than 3,400 all-event passes have been sold, with Canadian fans picking up about 80 per cent of those tickets.

“Obviously, we’re delighted with ticket sales and delighted with the Canadian fans who have come down to the desert in the heart of a really bad winter,” Cribbs said in an interview this week. “I think it’s great for curling as a sport and it’s great for curling in the U.S.”

With many Canadian fans in attendance, the U.S. organizers have adopted a Canadian tradition. A ballroom in the host hotel has been converted into the “Las Vegas Patch.” The social room, known at the Canadian men’s championship as the Brier Patch, features refreshments, live entertainment and games. After the first evening of competition wrapped up Thursday, the Patch was at capacity.

Linda Dziver of Thunder Bay, Ont., who has been in Vegas since last week, incorporated the tournament into a vacation.

“I love it,” said Dziver. “We’ve done some shopping and golfing and now we’re here focusing on the curling.”

Sporting a red and white Canada fan hat, Roberta Cuzzocrea of Courtenay, B.C. said “the venue is awesome and the games are just terrific.”

Mark Nicols, who won Olympic gold for Canada in 2006, said he never imagined curling would make it to a place like Vegas.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “People are cheering and you’re interacting with people.”

“People in the United States are very interested in curling every four years when curling really becomes everybody’s second favourite winter sport,” said Cribbs, an Olympic gold medallist in swimming. “You may love downhill skiing or ice hockey but your favourite second sport is curling.”

She said the sport’s popularity has grown in the U.S. since the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Games, especially among young professionals in their 20s and 30s who are “interested in the nuances of curling,” said Cribbs.

“The crowds here are great and it’s great training for us heading into Sochi,” said American Debbie McCormick. “It is just so much fun playing in this atmosphere.”

Nine of the 12 teams competing in Vegas will play in Sochi where McCormick’s will make her fourth Olympic appearance.

“We’re going to take full advantage of (the Continental Cup) and work really hard and play our best and learn from everything,” she said.

In addition to the pre-Sochi competition, there is some cash on the line for the curlers this weekend. The winning side receives $52,000 while the losing side gets $26,000.

As well, the side which generates the highest points total from the six Skins games will receive an additional $13,000.

Just Posted

UPDATED: Shots fired in Riverside Meadows

Red Deer RCMP search for more suspects

Royal close shave: Prince William opts for dramatic buzz cut

LONDON — The hair on the heir is no longer quite so… Continue reading

Border wall models thwart US commandos in tests

SAN DIEGO — Recent assaults by tactical teams on prototypes of President… Continue reading

Man charged in presumed deaths of two missing Toronto men set to appear in court

TORONTO — A man charged with first-degree murder in the presumed deaths… Continue reading

Nova Scotia ‘seriously considering’ banning plastic bags: environment minister

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s environment minister says he’s ”seriously considering” enacting a… Continue reading

WATCH: Alberta Party leadership candidates in Red Deer

Three people vying to be the leader of the Alberta Party were… Continue reading

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month