SPORTS

Cue the showgirls: Continental Cup of Curling back in Las Vegas in 2016

01/09/2015 02:25 EST | Updated 03/11/2015 05:59 EDT
CALGARY - What succeeds in Vegas returns to Vegas. The Continental Cup of Curling heads back to Sin City next year in hopes of replicating the buzz it created in 2014.

The 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup of Curling will again be held at the Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, which marks just the second time in the event's 12-year history it will be staged outside of Canada.

"We go there as tourists and now we're actually one of the shows," Olympic champion skip Jennifer Jones said Friday at a news conference.

Last year's event attracted a record 51,215 fans over four days at the 6,000-seat Orleans Arena. It drew a daily average of 300,000 television viewers, according to TSN.

"I think the simple reason was it was a home run, so why would we not go back?" Canadian Curling Association chief executive officer Greg Stremlaw said.

"The television numbers were good, obviously record attendance crowds and 92 per cent of them were from Canada, It gave our fans something different. Obviously we can't do that with national championships. They have to be held within Canada.

"But a Continental Cup, we've hosted it so often in Canada, it's nice to kind of have a little bit of variety. Las Vegas wanted us back pretty badly because it's a great economic impact for them."

A return to the U.S. means American curlers will be re-incorporated into the format.

They joined with Canadians under the Team North America banner for the first 10 years of the Continental Cup and helped post a 6-4 record. The U.S. was not invited to participate at this week's competition here.

An all-Canadian team is up 15-6 on Team Europe at Canada Olympic Park after Friday's draws wrapped up.

The four-day competition includes team, mixed doubles, singles and skins games. A total of 60 points are available, so the side that earns more than 30 points by Sunday is the champion.

The host team earned 3.5 out of a possible six points in the afternoon singles round and followed up with three out of a possible three points in team play in the evening.

Brad Jacobs, from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., defeated David Murdoch of the United Kingdom 6-5 in Round 4 of team competition.

Winnipeg's John Morris cruised to an 8-3 win over Niklas Edin of Sweden.

And in the other team game, Ottawa's Rachel Homan drew the button with last rock to nip Anna Sidorova of Russia 4-3.

"Clean sweep, that was good," said Homan.

Canada led by 4.5 points after the morning team competition when Edmonton's Val Sweeting and Scotland's Eve Muirhead tied 4-4 and split a point.

Winnipeg's Mike McEwen downed Norway's Thomas Ulsrud 7-2. Jones gave up five points in the first end to Sweden's Margaretha Sigfridsson en route to a 9-4 loss.

This year's average attendance at the 3,000-seat Markin MacPhail Centre was 1,533 after five draws.

The World Curling Federation has dropped its involvement in the Continental Cup. As the event's sole backer, the CCA chooses which countries are invited to next year's event Jan. 14-17.

Team North America will face a Team World in 2016, with the possibility that Asian curlers will be included.

"It will be more than Europe for sure," Stremlaw said. "Final decisions haven't been made in terms of who will constitute Team World, but it will be Team North America versus Team World."

Friday's announcement was made at Canada's Sports Hall of Fame at COP. Stremlaw was flanked by two women wearing sequined bikinis.

Showgirls and dancers from the male revue Thunder From Down Under accompanied the curlers into Orleans Arena last year. Las Vegas is a popular and easy getaway for Western Canadians.

With temperatures in Calgary around minus-20 C on Friday, Jon Killoran of the Reno Tahoe Winter Games Coalition pointed out it was 19 C in Las Vegas and said "the pool will once again be open if that weather is the same next year."

The 2014 Continental Cup benefited from the buildup to the Winter Olympics less than a month later in Sochi, Russia.

"NBC was there every day covering curling," Jones recalled. "They were there when we won the gold-medal game, they talked about us on David Letterman.

"Curling is making a statement in the States and we have to keep that momentum going. It's great news in my opinion that we're bringing it back to Vegas."

MORE:cpSports