World takes 2-1 lead at Continental Cup as Jones, Stoughton fall

Scotland skip Eve Muirhead delivers a stone during a semi final game against Canada at the 2013 world women's curling championship in Riga, Latvia, March 23, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Roman Koksarov-File

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - The World squad is off to an impressive start at the Continental Cup curling tournament, taking a 2-1 lead over North America after Thursday's opening draw.

Reigning world champion Eve Muirhead of Scotland opened with a 12-2 rout of Winnipeg's Jennifer 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.

"It was a great start, we played really well and the ice conditions are fantastic," Muirhead said. "We had a really solid game out there and to get the first points on the board for Team World was good."

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

"You forget that Sochi is only a couple of weeks away and Jennifer's going to be there but it doesn't really cross your mind," Muirhead said. "We play Jennifer a lot during the season and every game is just as tough. It makes it no different to any other game if we play her here or at the Winter Olympics or at any (World Curling) Tour event."

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

"I think we played pretty solid out there," said Ulsrud, the silver medallist at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. "We've been practising pretty hard in preparation for the Olympics.

"It's good to get a good start for Team World. This is a big event for us. We get to play the Canadian Olympic (Brad Jacobs) team and the U.S. Olympic team (John Shuster), so we're looking forward to that, it will be good practice. Hopefully we can send a message to them; I just hope they don't crush us."

The U.S. Olympic women's team salvaged a point for North America as Erika Brown defeated Japan's Satsuki 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)."

A total of 60 points are available through the four days of competition, with the first team reaching 30.5 points earning the Continental Cup title.

The tournament continued later Thursday with a round of mixed doubles.


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