in SWEEP! Magazine - March 2008)
Norway repeat as
(worst) beat Korea (best) 5-3 in an extra end to retain their World
Championship title in Sursee, Switzerland.
6-3 in round robin play, made the 1-2 Page playoff game, but for the
third successive championship failed to reach the podium. They came
within an open hit of a medal, but the last rock muse that won them
Torino gold deserted them in their semi-final loss to
(last rocks) and Ina Forrest (2nd) led at their positions in a team 57%
performance, second only to Korea's outstanding 60%. (Without sweeping,
50% has been the performance benchmark.)
Canada just couldn’t
find a way to win when it mattered, losing 2-7 to Korea in the playoff,
5-6 to Norway in the semi, and in a game where the coaches share
responsibility for a flat performance, 1-8 to USA for bronze. (Rock by
rock diagrams of every game are available on the CurlIT.com website.)
The players returned
disappointed not to be wearing medals, but with a Vancouver 2010 entry
assured, coaches used this season to experiment.
"We’re still a work
in progress," said program director Gerry Peckham. “We put ourselves in
a position to win and with experience we’ll learn how to bounce back
from tough losses.
"We're aiming to be
the world’s best statistical team,” he continued. “To do that we must
shoot better, but also show greater situational awareness on the ice,
and call the shots most likely to succeed.”
struggled at skip, something Chris Daw supporters will attribute to his
absence. (Daw withdrew prior to team selection.)
experience,” admitted Peckham, “and while both Gerry Austgarden and Gary
Cormack (who rotated at skip in Sursee) are working hard at the
position, it's a very steep learning curve. Beyond what can be taught,
good skips have the ability to draw the best performance from their
Asked if including
ex-Brier skip Jim Armstrong would help, Peckham replied. "Yes, but his
eligibility depends entirely on personal decisions (relating to daily
use of a wheelchair) that Jim makes, dictated by his health."
As for competitors,
Peckham said: "Canada is one of 4 or 5 teams with medal potential.
back to back gold is very impressive. They make critical shots with the
game on the line, and do not often beat themselves."
repeat made good on their coach's pre-tournament boast. "Our team has
players who are very experienced in other sports," Thoralf Hognestad
told a WCF reporter, "and we have the best strategy. We understand there
will be misses, so we always have a Plan B. We play wheelchair curling
for wheelchair curlers, not for able-bodied strategy."
The Koreans played
consistently well on very difficult ice. An opponent, describing a
draw, said, "I hit the broom on the edge of the 12 and it almost slid
out the opposite side!"
"Korea is an
exceptional team," said Peckham, “especially making shots; particularly
take outs. Their stats were most impressive and indicative of a team
that plays full time."
won their first ever medal and returned brimming with confidence. "This
year bronze, next year silver and in Vancouver - gold!" exclaimed skip
Augusto 'Goose' Perez.
Italy, who beat
Canada 7-0 in the
opening draw, began well but faded to 5-4 and a tie-break loss to USA.
"We only had one woman on the team," said skip Andrea
Tabanelli. (WCF rules dictate a mixed gender team at all times) "It's
difficult to play six hours a day. She just got very tired. We all did."
Scotland spoiled the
most entries in wheelchaircurling.com's "Pick the Final 4" competition,
collapsing to a tied for bottom 3-6 record. Only a last game win over
Canada, and a relegation tie-break draw to the button, saved the
perennial medal winners from having to re-qualify. Russia and Japan were
relegated, Japan by just 73 centimeters, and will have to play in next
season's pre-qualifying tournament in Scotland.
Next year's World Championships will be held in the 3,500
seat Hillcrest/Nat Bailey Stadium Park, the Vancouver 2010 curling
West Kildonan CC in
hosts the 2008 TSX Wheelchair Championship from March 25-29th. Eight
teams are scheduled to compete, with
Nova Scotia and a mixed Team Atlantic joining the competition for the
first time. Jim Armstrong (eligible for domestic play) will lead three
of last year's coach selected BC national champions, and Chris Daw will
play vice for Ken Gregory's
Bradford team in a four team
It pays to be on good
terms with your ice maker. He (or she) may be willing to change the
surface for you so that you can experience different ice speeds;
important if you want to compete away from your home rink. Another way
to simulate either heavy or fast ice is to create an artificial hogline.
Move it forward for "fast ice" and back for "slow."
Eric Eales - Kelowna,