Home | Up

Wheelchaircurling.com logo

Back to news headlines

From misfortune to triumph for paracurlers
DETERMINATION: It doesn't take long to get back into sports, says tough competitor

By Gordon Mcintyre  - The Province - Friday, March 10 2006

Different misfortunes brought them together from east and west to represent Canada at the Turin Paralympic Games.

But the all share the pressure any curler does when he or she puts on the Maple Leaf.

"It would be nice to emulate [the Gushue rink's gold medal win a couple weeks ago], said Team Canada third Gerry Austgarden, who grew up in Fort St. John and now lives in Westbank.  "I don't want to make any predictions because if we don't wind up doing it, we'll fell even worse.

"But I take that to heart.  We are expected to do well."

Austgarden, 42, had a dirtbike accident when he was 34 that broke two vertebRea.

Second Gary Cormack, born in Kenora, Ont., and now living in Surrey, was diagnosed 22 years ago when he was 33 with multiple sclerosis, the neurological disease that causes muscle degeneration.

Lead Sonja Gaudet, of Vernon, was age 31 eight years ago when she was thrown from a horse and injured her spine.

All partake in various other sports, such as tennis and skiing.

Skip Chris Daw, a 36-year-old paraplegic from London, Ont. was born without muscles in his legs.  Once considered the fastest wheelchair athlete in the world, Daw climbs mountains, parachutes, scuba dives and is a black-belt seventh dan in aki-jujitsu.

Perhaps it goes without saying that Daw is a take-charge guy.

"He likes to be the leader out there, we'll put it that way," Austgarden said with a chuckle.

The paracurling runs March 12-18 at Pinerolo palaghiaccio, where the Canadian men struck gold and the women bronze.

Begun in Europe in '98, paracurling came to Canada in 2001 and is now in 20 countries.

The four-player teams are mixed gender and are open to people with significant impairment in their legs or gait who usually require a wheelchair.

There are six ends and no sweeping, which makes weight and accuracy extra important.

They deliver from their wheelchair at the hog line, pushing the rock with a stick and with a teammate behind holding the chair steady.

"I figured my opportunity might be in 2010, but my dream came true even earlier," said Cormack, a longtime girls softball coach in Newton who was the last player named to the team.

Canada is ranked fourth. Switzerland, where the sport began, and Scotland are the teams to beat.
"At first you think you can't do the activities you did before," Gaudet said of her riding accident.  "Then you start looking into it and you realize you can do all of them with adaptive equipment.  If you were active before, it doesn't take you long to get back into sports"

Added Autsgarden: "You never have to give up on any dreams.

"I was always very active in sports and this gives me an avenue to take it to the highest level."

Top of page

Daily Coverage Begins March 11 on CBC Television

CBC kicks off coverage of TORINO 2006 – THE PARALYMPIC WINTER GAMES on March 11, as 700 athletes from 41 countries compete for 58 medals in five disciplines including alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, biathlon, ice sledge hockey and wheelchair curling. This year, CBC’s coverage of the Games will be available in more ways than ever before.

From March 11 to 19, CBC will keep Canadians up to date on all of the action in Turin with reports airing weekdays at 4:55 p.m. (local, Quebec-West), as well as later in the evening, following CBC News: The National. During the weekend, the daily TORINO 2006 – THE PARALYMPIC WINTER GAMES packages will air within CBC Sports Saturday.

The daily five-minute packages, co-hosted by CBC’s Karin Larsen and Tara Teigan, will feature a “story of the day” and a report on each day’s results. Former Paralympians Rob Snoek and Stacy Kohut, and CBC News’ Min Dhariwal will also file reports throughout TORINO 2006 – THE PARALYMPIC WINTER GAMES.

CBC’s coverage will also be broadcast each day on CBC Newsworld, while CBC News will air daily reports and regional-specific stories for the 6 p.m. (local) news programs across the country. Additionally, reporter Christopher Grosskurth will provide daily reports on CBC Radio during TORINO 2006 – THE PARALYMPIC WINTER GAMES.

For viewers in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, a special 30-minute broadcast welcoming home athletes from these respective provinces will air on March 28 at 7 p.m. (local) on CBC. Plus, two weeks following the conclusion of TORINO 2006 – THE PARALYMPIC WINTER GAMES, CBC Sports will produce and broadcast three Paralympics specials hosted by Tara Teigan, beginning on April 1 at 5 p.m. ET and continuing on April 8 at 4:30 p.m. ET and April 15 at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Viewers can visit cbc.ca/paralympics daily during TORINO 2006 – THE PARALYMPIC WINTER GAMES for news stories about the Games, analysis and information about Team Canada and the country’s top medal contenders, Paralympic event schedules, CBC broadcast schedules, medal counts and more.

Top of page
Wheelchair curling debut at BC Winter Games - Feb 26, 2006

Three teams from the lower mainland joined a team from Prince George, braving a 13 hour overnight coach ride through snow to compete in the first ever wheelchair curling event at the BC Winter Games in Trail. Team Canada 2nd Gary Cormack beat Darryl Neighbour 7 - 3 in the final, while Bill Lindstrom's Prince George team took bronze despite losing their 3 round-robin games.

BC Winter Games Gold Medallists - Team Cormack
Gold Medallists Team Cormack
Gary Cormack, Dave Schneider, Samantha Siu

Teams and Results

GOLD - Gary Cormack (skip), Dave Schneider, and Samantha Siu
SILVER - Darryl Neighbour (skip), Jamie Whitman, and Clarence Phelps
BRONZE - Bill Lindstrom (skip) Frank Labounty, Whitney Warren, Ryan Purvis
Bob Macdonald (skip), Lou Gibson, Vince Miele, and Miguel Valencia



Top of page

Report from the opening day of the Canadian Nationals - Feb 14, 2006

by Bev Oldham:  It is the quietest curling I have ever seen except for the Deaf Nationals.  No sweeping, therefore no screaming. All curlers delivered with the stick – no one playing today leaned over and delivered by hand.  I have seen wheelchair curlers do this – perhaps not allowed in the Nationals?

The curlers themselves get very cold – it is evident.  All teams in this event are mixed – must have at least one woman.  Don’t know if a team of just women is permitted.

They tend to play a draw and raise, light take-out game.  Many rocks in the house, therefore easy for a skip to bump a rock with a wheel.  This did happen today – at least twice that I noted.  It is also hard to see all the rocks in play from any view point because of the chairs.  When a third and his/her skip are conferring about shots and both are in the house you can’t see the rocks.

The skill level is amazing.  The lead on Team Canada made great shots – in front when called for, in the house when asked.  She drew in once then drew in to freeze on her own with her next shot.  Teams were delivering heavy in the first end – perhaps not expecting keen ice.  After that several shots were light – light weight take out shots overcurled, wicked or missed instead of hitting and sticking.  Some key draws came up short of the rings.  Once the skips figured out how much curl there was they started asking for more weight on the hits.

In the third end the Alberta skip Yizek made a great double take out on his last shot to count l.  On another sheet Bordeleau, the BC skip made a great angled raise take-out on his last rock to count 3.

The final end between Canada and BC (Bordeleau) was interesting.  BC had the hammer.  After the seconds’ stones there were 2 Canada (red) rocks on the back 12, and l BC (blue) biting the 12 and two of each colour out front scattered.  Red drew in biting the top 8.  Blue hit and stuck in top 12.  Red attempted to hit, grazed off a guard and went right through the house.  Blue hit a red rock on the back 12 and stuck.  Red drew in, trying to freeze to the previous shot, came up short.  Blue bumped that red rock, blue sitting 2.  Red trying to hit, came wide and hit his own red third shot rock.  BC didn’t have to throw their last rock.  Blue counted 2 for the win. Throughout the entire end there was never a rock even biting the 4 foot circle, yet it was wide open on the outturn side the whole end.

The BC Ontario game ended before the skips final rocks – Ontario was counting 2 and BC conceded – final score 4 – 3 Ontario.

This is a three year old sport, but it is expected to make great headway amongst wheelchair users looking for a non-aerobic game with lots of social interaction, congenial people to play with and against, and it is no different from curling with brushes and sweeping – much of the game is mental and requires concentration.

Bev Oldham Feb 14, 2006

Top of page
Team Ontario set after 3 team playdown. January 30th, 2006

Three Ontario teams competed at the Peterborough Curling Club for the right to challenge fellow Ontarian Chris Daw's Team Canada rink and provincial teams from BC, Alberta and Manitoba at the Nationals February 13 - 19th in Richmond BC.

Teams skipped by Chris Rees of the Leaside Curling Club, Don Bell of the Sydenham Community Curling Club, and Richard Fraser of the R A Curling Club played a round robin, with Bell defeating Fraser 7 - 1 in the semi-final only to lose to undefeated Rees 7 - 1 in the final. The winning team featured Chris Rees at skip, Karl Bax at 3rd, Frank Cannarella at 2nd and Lisa Blanchard at lead. Karl Bax curls out of the Peterborough Curling Club, but joined the Rees team for this event.

Full details are available at the Ontario Curling Association's website.

The Rees team will represent Ontario at the Nationals and will be accompanied by coaches Tom Ward and Bob Pippy.

Top of page
BC selects 2 teams for 2006 National Championships in Richmond BC
BC’s two teams for the Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship have been set following a selection camp held Jan. 6-8 at the Marpole CC in Vancouver.
Team A is skipped by Jim Shannon of Vancouver, last year’s runner-up at the national championship. The rest of Shannon’s team includes third Darryl Neighbour of Richmond, second Lou Gibson from Surrey, Armstrong’s Ina Forrest at lead and fifth Bob Macdonald from Richmond. Melissa Soligo, Curl BC’s regional coach on Vancouver Island, will coach Team A.

Team B skip will be Ron Bordeleau of Richmond, who played second on Shannon’s BC team last year. Third is Kelowna’s Ron Vaselenak, second is Frank LaBounty of Prince George, lead is Jacqueline Roy of Richmond and Whitney Warren from Prince George will be the fifth. Monique Moonie, a former Curl BC regional coach for the Lower Mainland, is coaching Team B.

The national wheelchair championship returns to the Richmond CC this year from Feb. 13-19.
Kelowna, British Columbia. January 9th, 2006 

CurlBC has selected 2 teams to represent the province at the Canada National Wheelchair Curling Championships in Richmond, BC February 13-19, 2006. (see above)

Twenty wheelchair athletes vied for spots on the provincial team by attending a two day selection camp at the Marpole Curling Club. Scores on skill drills as well as coach assessments of strategic understanding, mental toughness and other suitability criteria were used to select the two teams.

The selection camp was followed by an 8 team Cashspiel with Team Canada joining a mixture of able-bodied and wheelchair athletes competing for $750 in prize money. The event was won by a team skipped by Jim Shannon, who had Team Canada member Gerry Austgarden playing third.

CLICK HERE for some pictures taken at the camp.

Top of page
Team Canada – Wheelchair curling

Chris Daw (skip)
Born: 01/02/70 Birthplace: North York ON Hometown: London ON Coach: joe Rea Club: Ilderton Curling club Married: Mari – 3 children Career Highlights: 1984 Paralympics Stoke UK (athletics), 1988 Paralympics Seoul Korea (athletics), 2000 Paralympics Sydney AUS (Rugby), 3 World Championships, 1 World Cup, 2 National Championships.

Gerry Austgarden
Born: 01/07/64 Birthplace: Fort St. John, BC Hometown: Westbank BC Coach: joe Rea Club: Vernon Curling Club Married: Doreen – daughter Zoe-Ann Occupation: Investment Advisor BMO Nesbitt Burns Career Highlights: 2 National Championships, 1 World Championship

Gary Cormack
Born: 05/27/50 Birthplace: Kenora ON Hometown: Surrey BC Coach: joe Rea Club: Marpole Curling club Married: Susan Career Highlights: 2 National Championships, 1 International Bonspiel

Karen Blachford
Born: 01/26/66 Birthplace: Brockville ON Hometown: London ON Coach: joe Rea Club: Ilderton Curling club Occupation: Certified Fitness Consultant Notables: Certified Level 2 Hockey Referee – refs from a sledge Career Highlights: 3 World Championships, 1 World Cup, and 2 National Championships

Sonja Gaudet
Born: 07/22/66 Birthplace: North Vancouver BC Hometown: Vernon BC Coach: joe Rea, Sharon Delver Club: Vernon Curling Club Married: Dan – 2 children Career Highlights: 2 National Championships, 2 International Bonspiels

Support Staff:
Coach: joe Rea - Prince George BC
Equipment Manager: Trevor Kerr – London ON
Team Leader: Wendy Morgan – Burlington ON

Top of page
Kelowna, British Columbia. December 29th, 2005

All three British Columbians made the 5 person Team Canada wheelchair curling squad and will be going to Torino to compete for the very first Gold Medal at the 2006 Winter Paralympics.

Congratulations to Sonja Gaudet of Vernon, Gerry Austgarden of Kelowna and Gary Cormack of Vancouver. They join skip Chris Daw and Karen Blachford, both of London, Ontario.

The 6 person training squad was reduced to the five who will travel to Italy in March when Jim Primavera, part of Daw's Ontario based team that competed in the last three world championships, was cut on Boxing Day.

Top of page
British Wheelchair Curling Association  30th October 2005

GB announces strong curling team for Winter Paralympic Games

The players that won this year’s World Wheelchair Curling Championships will have the opportunity to challenge for gold at the Torino 2006 Winter Paralympic Games.

All five players who won the World Championships in Glasgow in January are named today (Sunday) by the British Paralympic Association in the GB team for the Winter Paralympic Games.

Britain qualified for Torino – the first time curling has appeared at the Winter Paralympic Games – by virtue of Scotland’s victories at the 2004 and 2005 World Champions.

Frank Duffy, Michael McCreadie, Tom Killin, Angie Malone and Ken Dickson, were today confirmed to represent Great Britain in Torino, with Louise Dodd selected as non-travelling reserve.

Team manager Ena Stevenson said: “It’s a strong team and we’re going out to get into the medal zone. We know there are no easy games at this level, so we can’t take anything for granted.”

Great Britain have a particularly tough start to the competition in Torino – they play the Switzerland and Denmark – the bronze and silver medallists at the 2005 World Championships – on the opening day of competition in Torino.

The GB team includes Michael McCreadie, who played for the Great Britain basketball team at three Paralympic Games and coached at two further Paralympic Games.

Tom Killin also has Paralympic Games experience – he won a silver medal in table tennis in 1984 and silvers in fencing in both 1980 and 1984.

GB curling team for Torino

Frank Duffy – Falkland, Fife (27.08.59)
Michael McCreadie – Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire (16.03.46)
Tom Killin – Edinburgh (30.03.50)
Angie Malone - Girvan (27.05.65)
Ken Dickson – Berwick-upon-Tweed (01.07.44)

Non-travelling reserve:
Louise Dodd – Dingwall, Inverness (26.06.74)

Ena Stevenson from Dunfermline will be team manager, while Tom Pendreigh from Inverness is head coach and Glasgow’s Ali Glover is physiotherapist. Kenny More from Fife will be notational analyst.

Home | Up