Thursday, November 23, 2006

Last call for Russ and Brad

CHILLIWACK, B.C. – The Continental Cup has roared to life, and you can check it out live at CurlTV, and via online scoring here.

And it marks the first time the 2006 Olympic golden duo of Brad Gushue (rear in CCA/Michael Burns photo) and Russ Howard (foreground) have been on the ice together since the last puck of Pinerolo in February.

And this week's event marks the last time, as well.

As readers of The Curling News well know, Gushue has replaced Russ with youthful Alberta import Chris Schille on the road to 2010, while Howard will seek his Brier fortune out of his hometown of Moncton, along with son Steven Howard. Thus, this fourth edition of the Continental Cup is the last hurrah of the men's Olympic champions, in terms of the once-controversial lineup change that brought Howard on board in October, 2005.

The squad faces Norway's Pal Trulsen, the 2002 gold medallist, tonight, for ultimate Olympic bragging rights.

Right now, Gushue and Kleibrink third Amy Nixon are tied 3-3 with Europe's Eva Lund (third for Anette Norberg) and Trulsen. Mark Nichols and Bronwen Saunders are brushing for the North American duo, while Trulsen second Flemming Davanger and Cathrine Lindahl (Norberg's sister) are sweeping for Europe.

Meanwhile, a blow to the NA squad as Nichols has taken himself out of the lineup for singles curling. He's got a bad wheel, largely undiagnosed, which causes pain on takeouts, particularly on speeding bullets like the ones he threw in the Olympic final.

"Obviously I would have loved to play singles, but it's in the best interests of the whole team and my leg," Nichols told TCN scribe Larry Wood. "I want to be ready to play the games, the teams and the skins."

Nichols has an MRI scheduled for early December.

Check back often as The Curling News brings you regular blogposts from the Continental Cup, plus the occasional insider's report from Tokyo and the Pacific Championships, which are a resounding success in curling's newest hotbed of Japan.

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