By Gary Kingston, Vancouver Sun

Curling’s 2012 Continental Cup, a North America vs. Team World competition modelled after golf’s Ryder Cup, is coming to the Langley Events Centre.

While the international event has only been held six times previously and doesn’t yet have the same cachet among casual curling fans as the world championships or the Brier, the Canadian Curling Association hopes to build off the huge numbers garnered by the Olympic curling last February.

“We set some great new records when [Calgary’s] Cheryl Bernard played in the women’s gold medal final,” said Warren Hansen, the CCA’s event operations director. “The television audience was close to six million people, which for a women’s event was absolutely outstanding.

“And when [Edmonton’s] Kevin Martin [won gold] on the Saturday, it attracted seven million Canada-wide. We brought a whole bunch of people into the sport.”

While the 2012 Cup, to be contested Jan. 12-15 of that year in the 4,500-seat arena, will be televised live by TSN, the CCA is encouraging people to get to the arena with its new marketing slogan, “You gotta be there.”

Tickets go sale in September 2011.

The Continental Cup features 12 elite men’s and women’s rinks playing different disciplines over four days, including regular team games, mixed doubles, singles, mixed skins and skins games.

Points are awarded for wins or ties, with the first side to reach 200 points declared the winner.

The inaugural Continental

Cup was held in Regina in 2002. Chilliwack’s Prospera Centre hosted the 2006 event.

The World Financial Groupsponsored

cup, which was not played in 2005 and 2009 because of Olympic curling trials in Canada, is tied at three wins each for North America and Team World.

The 2011 event will be held in St. Albert, Alta., Jan. 13-16.

Over the years, the event has featured Canadian rinks skipped by the likes of 2010 Olympic gold medallist Kevin Martin, Glenn Howard, Randy Ferbey, 2006 Olympic gold medallist Brad Gushue, Colleen Jones, Jennifer Jones and Kelly Scott.

Top international rinks have included David Murdoch of Scotland, Andy Kapp of Germany, Dordi Nordby of Norway and Anette Norberg of Sweden.

Randall Kovacs, chair of the local organizing committee, said he hopes that bringing the world’s best to Langley will help attract new curlers to local rinks. Any proceeds will go to continuing to develop youth programs at the Langley Curling Club.

With the banquet facilities available at the 16-month old Langley Events Centre, the CCA will be able to have its famous Patch party area at the venue.

“There will be meet-and-greets, autograph sessions. I’m going to be able to [meet the curlers] but so is everybody else,” said Kovacs. “I can’t wait.”

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