SPORTS

North America wins two of three mixed doubles matches to tie curling series 3-3

01/16/2014 03:09 EST | Updated 03/18/2014 05:59 EDT
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Team North America moved into a tie with the World Team after winning two of the three mixed doubles matches Thursday afternoon at the World Financial Group Continental Cup.

Team World won two of three traditional team games in the morning draw of curling's version of the Ryder Cup.

Each side has three points heading into the evening draw. The first team reaching 30.5 points by Sunday's final day will win the title.

The Winnipeg duo of Jennifer Jones and Mark Nichols set the tone in the afternoon, stealing one in the first end, two more in the second and two more in the third, in racking up a 9-2 Team North America victory over the Swedish partnership of Niklas Edin and Christina Bertrup.

"He (Nichols) was amazing," said Jones. "We had so much fun out there, he made my job easy. Mixed doubles is a ton of fun to play, I love playing it."

Another all-Winnipeg pairing of Jeff Stoughton and Kaitlyn Lawes had to work harder for their victory. Lawes had to draw to the full eight-foot with the last rock of the game for an 8-7 Team North America win over the Swedish duo of Sebastin Kraupp and Maria Prytz.

North America led 6-2 after four ends, but the Swedes scored three in the fifth and two more in the seventh to knot the score at 7-7, to set the stage for Lawes' game-winning shot.

"That was a pretty exciting finish to our game," said Lawes. "The exciting thing is that at the Continental Cup last year we started off with two losses and a tie in the first round, so I said to our team: 'We're actually in a better position than last year,' so things are looking good."

Team World salvaged one point out of the afternoon draw thanks to the combination of Christoffer Svae of Norway and Satsuki Fujisawa of Japan. Svae and Fujisawa took three in the first end and three more in the third and sailed to a 13-1 win over North America's Jeff Isaacson and Debbie McCormick.

In the morning draw, reigning world champion Eve Muirhead of Scotland opened with a 12-2 rout of Jones in a battle of teams bound for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Muirhead stole three in the fourth end and two more in fifth to earn the full point in the team standings.

The teams will meet again, possibly this week and certainly in Sochi.

Norway's Thomas Ulsrud, a silver medallist at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, gave World another point with a 7-4 win over Stoughton. Ulsrud, who is also bound for Sochi, picked up three points in the fourth end to open up the game.

The U.S. Olympic women's team salvaged a point for North America as Erika Brown defeated Fujisawa 5-3.

"It was a great big win. It's fun to play in front of 4-5,000 people and to play well," Brown said. "I could sense that things weren't going so well on the other sheets so I'm happy we got a point today (for North America)."

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