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Posts here are mirrored on the Wheelchair Curling Blog, often with photos. Leave comments at the blog or email  question@wheelchaircurling.com

And so it goes 12/31/2011

This site, and later the associated blog which allowed me to add photos, grew from a desire to promote curling as a viable winter recreation choice for wheelchair users. I also hoped to influence the direction of the sport's development, by sharing my ideas on how the game might be played and how it might be organised.

Since 2005 I have been the sport's unofficial archivist, reporting what often would otherwise have gone unrecorded; understanding that a sport grows from its history. But it was never intended to be a lifetime commitment and I am drawing it to a close before it becomes a chore rather than an enthusiasm.

I will keep this website and the blog open, the articles and records available. Anyone who has read the articles and my blog post comments will know my opinions. They have never been a secret and do not need a valedictory.

My thanks to those who have supported my efforts over the years. I have made many friends through my involvement in wheelchair curling, and I will continue to follow the sport with interest. If I have one regret it is that I lacked the physical skill to play competitively. I hope that my contributions in other areas have made a difference.

The 2011 CHRISTMAS QUIZ   12/24/2011   Answers  are HERE

Welcome to this year's Christmas Quiz. The questions have all been taken from posts written during the course of 2011 and reflect our international readership. Good luck. The 20 answers will appear in a couple of days.

1. What do Canada's Sonja Gaudet and Heather Smith-Dacey have in common with Scotland's Eve Muirhead and Sweden's Anette Norberg?

2. Who cut his Paralympic medal in half? Why?

3. Which wheelchair user represented his country in an international curling tournament at which all the other players were able-bodied?

4. Who coached Scotland at the 2011 World Championships?

5. Canada repeated as World champions in 2011 - which play-off team failed to win a medal?

6. The 2011 Worlds allowed powerchair users to compete for the first time. Who was the first athlete to compete using a powerchair?

7. Which of the 3 national teams teams involved in relegation tie-breaks avoided having to re-qualify for the 2012 Worlds?

8. Who was the first female to skip at a World Wheelchair Curling Championship?

9. Who was the first wheelchair user to coach a national team at a World Wheelchair Curling Championship?

10. Which country had to cancel their national championships in the face of natural disaster?

11. At what event did a sponsor offer a $1,000 sponsors prize for a hammer-deciding throw that covered the pin?

12. The $1,000 prize was not won, but someone won a consolation $200 for a shot that ended less than 4 cms from the pin? Who made that throw?

13. Which province broke BC's stranglehold on Canadian national titles?

14. Four Americans were ever-present on Team USA for the 4 years from 2008 through 2011. Of the four, who's been chosen compete in 2012?

15. Nine of the ten teams at the 2012 World Championships will have competed at that level before. Who's the tenth?

16. Norway travelled to Canada to compete at the 7th Annual Cathy Kerr Memorial Spiel. How did they do? Who was missing from their team?

17. Team Lessard from Quebec were beaten finalists at the Cathy Kerr. What event did they win the previous week?

18. The South Lanarkshire WCC changed the rules at a recent fun event. What Scottish delicacy was used as the target?

If you've enjoyed our coverage of wheelchair curling over the years, please consider making a donation towards the maintenance of this website by clicking on the link on the front page.

A very Happy Christmas to you all from Eric and Cate.

Michael McCreadie quits international stage  12/21/2011

Michael McCreadie has announced his resignation from international competition.

"I am no longer a member of the World Class Performance Squad," he told me. "Since the summer, although playing reasonably well and achieving some good results in International competitions, my heart wasn't in it any more - the enjoyment had gone. It was not an easy decision to make. I had to do what was best for me and ultimately the squad.

"I wish the coach and the squad every success in the future."   

Tony Zummack, the national coach, responded: "I do feel that Michael McCreadie will continue to be involved and support wheelchair curling in the future. I respect his decision to retire from international competition and also respect the time and commitment he made to the National Program."

Michael, 65, was a member of the Scottish team that contested the first World Championship in Switzerland, 2002, where he won a bronze medal playing 2nd under Frank Duffy. He won gold medals playing 3rd at the 2004 and 2005 Worlds, and was the British flag bearer in Torino in 2006 where he won silver.

He followed Duffy into retirement after the crushing last rock Torino defeat, but was soon back and skipped his country to bronze at the 2007 Worlds, a success that eluded his teams the following 3 years.

After the Vancouver Paralympics, where he skipped but threw 3rd stones, he announced he would take a year off. He returned this season, but with the Scottish team committed to his partner Eileen Neilson at skip after her silver medal at the 2011 Worlds, his role was to skip Scotland's B team. That is the position he has now quit.

Zummack is not immediately replacing him. "I am keeping the National Squad at 7 athletes and have had some of our development athletes come in to train and play with us and will have someone in place for the Lanarkshire International." (Jan 17-18)

Michael McCreadie played in 72 World Curling Federation events, ending with a 45-27 record, 2 gold and 2 bronze Worlds medals and a Paralympic silver medal.

Nova Scotia has new champions  12/19/2011

Richard Brown, Nova Scotia wheelchair curling's other skip, finally broke through to win his first provincial championship over the 5 time champions Team Rutt at the Lakeshore CC this weekend.

Brown, who skipped the winless NS Host team at the 2009 Nationals, faced opponents missing the services of skip Mike Fitzgerald who had relocated to New Brunswick, but as the best of five series began, his team of Terry Cousineau, Steve Parfitt and Paige Fougere could have been forgiven for thinking little had changed. Laughie Rutt, stepping up to skip but throwing 3rd stones in favour of Trendal Hubley-Bolivar, led his title defenders to a 10-2 opening night victory.

Game 1
Rutt * 1 0 1 1 3 1 3 x 10
Brown  0 2 0 0 0 0 0 x  2

Team Brown regrouped Saturday to steal the first 4 points of Game 2, and then hang on as Rutt, down 7-4 after 7, fell just a point short of forcing an extra end.

Game 2
Rutt * 0 0 1 1 0 0 2 2 - 6
Brown  3 1 0 0 2 1 0 0 - 7

It was deja vu in Game 3, as Brown again stole 3 in the 1st and added another in the 2nd before surrendering a 4 spot in the 7th to fall behind 7-6. Brown took one with hammer to force an extra and then stole 2 to lead the series 2-1.

Game 3
Rutt * 0 0 1 2 0 0 4 0 0 - 7
Brown  3 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 2 - 9

Sunday saw Team Rutt return to the form they showed in the opener as they posted 8 unanswered points to level the series at 2-2, after again giving up an opening end steal.

Game 4
Rutt * 0 2 4 1 1 x x x - 8
Brown  1 0 0 0 0 x x x - 1

The series decider returned to the pattern of Saturday as Team Brown, despite never earning the hammer, stole 2 in the 1st, added a single in the 2nd and stole 2 more in the 5th, finishing 8-3 winners and Nova Scotia Champions.

Game 5
Rutt * 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 x - 3
Brown  2 1 0 2 2 0 1 x - 8

Scots put haggis to good use  12/18/2011

The STV website reports that South Lanarkshire Wheelchair Curling Club marked St Andrew's Day (November 30) with a haggis curling competition.

The huge haggis, donated by sponsors Damn Delicious of Lanark. was used as the target in the competition that drew over 30 curlers to the Hamilton Ice Rink.

Bill Masterton, Gary Marshall, Steve Sutherland and individual winner Jan Drife secured the inaugural title. (photo on blog)

South Lanarkshire Wheelchair Curling Club chairman Arthur Bell described the day as "filled with lots of skill, sometimes a bit of luck as the beastie was whacked away, and always lots of fun. That's what amateur sport should be about."

Learn To Coach course in Greenock (SCO) January 8th  12/18/2011

The Royal Caledonian CC, guardian of curling in Britain, is offering a workshop introducing coaches to wheelchair curling. The session costs £15 and will cover the basic delivery styles and skills used when teaching wheelchair curling.

CLICK HERE for details and a registration form.

Slovakia catches the attention of the IPC  12/16/2011

Slovakia, surprise winners of the recent Qualifying Tournament for entry to the 2012 Worlds in Korea, were featured on the International Paralympic Committee website.

Curling began in Slovakia ten years ago and wheelchair curling five years ago, but progress has been swift. The skip, Radoslav Duris,  was formerly a swimmer and hockey player a car accident in high school.

“All of our players were sportsmen before, so they all have the hearts of sportsmen,” team coach Milan Kalis said.

Read the whole article HERE

Nova Scotia Provincials begin December 16-18  12/15/2011

Two teams will compete at the Lakeshore CC in a best of 5 match for the right to represent Nova Scotia at the 2012 Nationals in Thunder Bay, March 18-25.

With Nova Scotia stalwart Michael Fitzgerald decamped to New Brunswick, his championship defending  team will be skipped by Laughie Rutt, who will continue to throw 3rd stones. Trendal Hubley-Bolivar will throw 4th, with lead Debbie Earle and a returning Keith Williams, back from a year off preparing for basketball at the Canada Games.

They will face perennial challengers Team Brown: Richard Brown at skip, 3rd Terry Cousinneau, 2nd Steve Parfait and Paige Fougere at lead.

First game is Friday 16th at 8.30, with Saturday games at 2.30 and 6.30 plus Sunday games at 3 and 7pm if necessary.

BC Provincials scheduled February 2-5 in Kamloops  12/15/2011

BC's Provincial Championship will be held at McArthur Island (Kamloops) from February 2-5, though as only two teams submitted entries by the December 9 deadline, that schedule may be  compressed.

Team Cormack, last year's surprise winners over a Jim Armstrong team featuring Darryl Neighbour and Chris Daw, will defend their title over a team skipped by Darryl Neighbour. Details when available will be published here and on playdowns.com.

BC were slow to adopt a playoff format for the Provincial team, but had 4 teams registered in 2009, and 3 in 2010 and 2011. This year's entry is very disappointing, considering how BC athletes have dominated the national team since 2007. Success at the national and international level is clearly no spur, at least in BC, to increased grassroots participation.

Team Canada miss out on IPC Best Team Award  12/15/2011

The final round of awards from the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics was held in Beijing last Saturday: the International Paralympic Committee's Best Team Award went not to Canada, but to Japan's silver medal sledge hockey team. While it is possible that scandal may have influenced the Committee's decision, the citation emphasised that Japan's team had not been expected to medal before the Games began.

Team Canada have kept a very low profile this year. Rather than repeatedly traveling to compete internationally, much of the budget has been spent bringing in new people either to training camp or domestic competition to work with the six currently carded team members.

Team Canada 2012 has not been officially announced but Jim, who has now moved to Ontario, Darryl, Ina and Sonja will be in Richmond BC this weekend for one of two scheduled training camps prior to the 2012 Worlds in Korea, February 18-25. A January training camp has yet to be scheduled, though the team will compete in a Mixed Cashspiel in Prince George January 16-18. 

Wes Smith, USA Paralympian, 1940-2011  12/7/2011

The Bangor Daily News reports that Wes Smith died on Monday in Florida. Wes played in the inaugural Wheelchair Curling World Championships in Sursee SUI in 2002. He was also, at 65, the oldest competitor at the 2006 Torino Paralympics, a record overtaken by Japan's Takashi Hidai who was 75 when he curled at the Vancouver Paralympics in 2010.

USA selects team for 2012 World Championships 12/5/2011

The five athletes who will represent USA at the 2012 World Championships in South Korea next February 18-25, have been announced though playing positions have not yet been decided.

The players are:

Patrick McDonald (Madison, Wis.)
James Joseph (New Hartford, N.Y.)
Penny Greely (Green Bay, Wis.)
David Palmer (Mashpee, Mass.)
and Tim Kelly (Rockford, Ill.) chosen as alternate.

Players were chosen based on their performance at an open-call training camp and at the US Open and Cathy Kerr Spiel.

USA lost their skip Augusto Pérez, 3rd Jim Pierce and lead Jacqueline Kapinowski to retirement after a tough 2011 Worlds campaign that saw them finish just one win above the relegation zone. This season they'll be led by Patrick McDonald who returns from shoulder surgery that kept him out of last year's championships. Experienced Jimmy Joseph and Penny Greely, last year's rookie alternate, return to the squad which has two newcomers; David Palmer and Tim Kelly.

Click HERE to watch a video of Rockford's Channel 13 TV station interview with Kelly after he made the team.

Wheelchair curling thriving at Ilderon CC 12/3/2011

For those not beholden to national fundraisers like Own The Podium, wheelchair curling is about enjoyment - something easily forgotten amidst reporting's natural emphasis on competition and drama.

Ilderton Ontario's program has been rebuilt on that firm foundation. The coach, Ernie Comerford, after relocating to London Ontario and looking to recreate the success he helped biuld in Calgary, saw Ilderton CC had the closest accessible ice. It also had a storied history, hanging three Canadian Championship banners plus the Torino Paralympic Gold Banner; a leagcy of Chris Daw's early involvement at the club. But participation had collapsed post Torino, and it took a whole winter to encourage the first two wheelchair users to enter the ice in the Spring of 2008.

Since then there has been a steady growth in participation at the recreational level, while two teams played in this year's Cathy Kerr, one reaching the semis. Two players, Mark Ideson and Mike Munro, attended the National Training program and participated on Team Canada II in Richmond in November.

This season the recreational group meets on Sundays from 11 am until 1 pm. The competitive group plays in a regular mixed league weekly and attends separate practices during the week. The Club intends to enter two teams in the January 2012 Provincials near Ottawa, with the hope that will expand to three in the future.

The Club belives in outreach, and owns a set of demonstrations rocks to promote the game and recruit newcomers at local malls.

The blog has a video af highlights from the 2010-2011 season that gives a taste of the positive energy that motivates the club.

Wheelchair Curling is alive and well in the London area and it keeps getting better, says Ernie. Anyone interested should contact Ernie Comerford at 519-203-0087 or by email at erniecomerford@rogers.com.

Calgary's curlers facing challenges 12/3/2011

Calgary's wheelchair curlers lost their Ogden CC home when the curling club disbanded over the summer, and have struggled to find viable alternatives to their old fully accessible venue. They have been playing in an able-bodied league at the Calgary CC, and that club have been very supportive, going so far as to purchase an expensive (and heavy) ramp to allow side door ice access.

Getting suitable practice time at what may be Canada's busiest club, however, has proven impossible. The Garrison CC has provided practice ice late Sunday afternoon; an awkward time that has meant a drop off of attendance especially among the recreational players.

The team itself. together for over seven years, is adjusting to the absence of a founding member. Bridget Wilson. Bridget got wheelchair curling started in Alberta but always found traveling a strain. She spends most of the winter in Arizona and decided to step back for a year at the conclusion of last season; spending more time with her family and not concerning herself with being match ready come the 2012 Nationals.

Bridget remains part of the team and is playing in a fun league while in Phoenix, though Martin Purvis will play front end at this season's competitions. Martin joined the team in 2009, winning silver at the 2009 and 2011 Nationals while playing 2nd, and also made the All-Star roster in 2010.

There is a possibility that Calgary will be challenged for the southern Alberta slot at Provincials by a team from Lethbridge, who recently brought six players to Calgary for an afternoon pof curling. Medicine Hat is also rumoured to be preparing a team.

Russia wins 6th Czech Open 11/30/2011

Russia topped the seven team field at the 6th Czech Open last weekend in Prague, dropping just one point in a 5-5 tie with the Italian Trentino team. Poland finished second and Sweden third.  Two Czech teams and Slovakia also competed. Slovakia, with three of the four players who won promotion to the 2012 Worlds from the Qualifying Tournament, finished 6th with four losses and a tie.

Full event details including line scores and team members can be found HERE.

Sweden's Patrik Burman, Paralypic bronze medalist, profiled 11/29/2011

Patrick Burman, who started at second on Sweden's 2010 Paralympic team before stepping up to 3rd to replace Glenn Ikonen in the playoffs, is profiled HERE.

Patrick played 3rd on the 2011 Worlds team that narrowly escaped relegation, but suffered a shoulder injury in the summer and will miss this season, his place taken on the reconstituted Paralympic team likely to compete at the 2012 Worlds in Korea, by namesake Patrik Kallin.

English team looking for some support 11/27/2011

Four avid wheelchair curlers, fairly new to the ice but experienced in other sports, are looking for coaching support and sponsorship towards their goal of becoming a competitive team worthy of representing England.

Stephen McGarry, Jeff Ward, Stewart Pimblett and Paula Longrigg live in the north of England, and travel to Kelso for their curling. They competed at the 2011 British Championships, finishing with a 2-2 record after a narrow 6-5 defeat by pool leader Rosemary Lenton in the final round robin draw.

At present Scotland dominates British curling because they have the curling ice. Though England and Wales have competed at World events in the past, Team Scotland inevitably becomes Team Great Britain, and indeed any Paralympic qualification points that might be earned in Britain outside of Scotland are by agreement ceded to the Scots.

As an ex-pat Englishman I'm cheered to see a challenge to this hegemony and I hope there are people left in England who can provide these pioneers with some much needed support.

Team Ewan take 2011 British Championship  11/27/2011

Gregor Ewan skipped his team of Jim Gault, Ian Donaldson and Gil Keith to victory at the 2011 British Wheelchair Curling Championship at The Galleon Ice Rink, Kilmarnock SCO. this weekend.

Twelve teams competed in 2 pools, with crossover semi-finals for the top two in each pool. Pool A leader Rosemary Lenton gave up a steal in the 6th (final) end of her semi against Paul Webster to lose 5-3.

Ewan saw off National teammate Aileen Neilson 11-2 with a series of big end steals in the other semi. He then went one better in a repeat performance, dispatching Webster 12-1 in the final. Neilson beat Lenton 6-3 to take bronze.

Ewan     0 3 1 3 5 x - 12
Webster  1 0 0 0 0 x - 1

Neilson  0 2 1 0 3 0 - 6
Lenton   1 0 0 1 0 1 - 3

Line scores for all the matches are presently available HERE and a digest of the final day is available HERE. Team members are HERE.

Anne Hibberd is CCA's featured athlete of the week  11/24/2011

Aussie transplant Anne Hibberd, an integral part of Team Alberta for the past 6 years, is featured in the CCA's continuing promotion of wheelchair curling through their "featured athlete of the week."

In addition to earning two silver medals at National championships, and recently playing in the Team Canada squad, Anne has served as president of the Calgary Wheelchair Curling Association since 2005.

See what she has to say about her life in and out of curling, HERE.

Norway takes Cathy Kerr final over Quebec as USA I fades  11/20/2011

Norway, playing without skip Rune Lorentsen who did not travel, took the $400 first prize at the 7th Cathy Kerr Memorial Spiel at the RA in Ottawa. They beat Chris Sobkowicz's national champions Team Cancade 7-3 in the pool cross-over semi-final, then faced Quebec, who handed USA I their first defeat 13-3 in the other semi.

The  final went 9-5 to Norway while Team Cancade edged USA I 6-5 for 3rd place. Scores from the other cross-over games and results from all draws, plus team members, can be viewed HERE.

Final standings

Norway - gold
Quebec - silver
Cancade - bronze
Nfld & Lab

In the recreational division Quebec visitors Lenoxville prevailed over Michel with Simpson 3rd.

USA 1 & Norway top their pools after round robin at Cathy Kerr  11/19/2011

USA I, playing with just three members after Dave Palmer had to return home for a family emergency, went 5-0 in round robin play at the end of Day 2 of the 7th Annual Cathy Kerr Memorial Spiel at the RA in Ottawa, Ontario. They beat Ken Gregory's Bradford 6-3 and Newfoundland/Labrador 6-5.

Norway also went undefeated, topping their pool after dropping only a point in yesterday's tie with Toronto. Today they inflicted Quebec's only defeat, 8-5, and finished with a 7-5 defeat of Sudbury. In the absence of skip Rune Lorentsen, who did not travel with the team but who will lead them in Korea,  Jostein Stordahl has proved an effective replacement. The other members of the team have rotated positions but tomorrow will play Sissel Løchen at lead, Per Fagerhøi at 2nd and Terje Rafdal at 3rd.

Chris Sobkowicz's Manitoban Team Cancade, with recent implant Mark Wherrett playing 2nd, beat Ilderton 9-3 in the morning then piled on winless Team Fraser, 18-0 after 6 ends. Their alternate, George Horning, played on the Newfoundland/Labrador team replacing a player who fell ill.

Quebec rebounded from their morning loss by beating USA II 6-5 in the afternoon.

That set up top of the table cross pool match-ups of USA I vs Quebec and Norway vs Cancade at 9am, the winners playing for the $400 1st prize, and the losers playing for 3rd, at 2.15pm.

Tables after Round Robin

Pool A Pool B
Norway  4-0-1 USA I       5-0
Quebec  4-1 Cancade     4-1
USA II  3-2 Ilderton    3-2
Cameron 2-3 Newfld/Lab  2-3
Toronto 1-3-1 Bradford    1-4
Sudbury 0-5 Fraser      0-5

Results from each draw can be viewed HERE. The schedule is available HERE

In the recreational division, visiting Lennoxville (3-1) from Quebec won both their games to top the table over Michel (2-2) Wong-Sing (2-2) and Simpson (1-3).

Quebec and USA I off to perfect start on Day 1 of Cathy Kerr 11/18/2011

Ben Lessard's team from Quebec continued the run of form that saw them go unbeaten at last weekend's US Open, by posting a 3-0 start in Pool A on the opening day of the 7th Annual Cathy Kerr  Memorial Bonspiel in Ottawa, Ontario.

They beat host club organiser Bruce Cameron in the early morning (8.30am) draw 8-7 and then posted large margin wins over reigning Ontario provincial champion Chris Rees 8-1 and relative newcomers Sudbury 10-2.

In Pool B USA I were also unbeaten, topping the Manitoban national champions Team Cancade 8-1, before seeing off Ottawa's Fraser 9-4 and Ilderton 12-3.

The USA teams had struggled at their Open and the players have this event as a final opportunity to impress their coaches before Team USA 2012 is announced.

Norway's long-time skip, Rune Lorentsen, was unable to travel with the team, so everyone moved up a position. They won two games after an opening 7-7 tie with Chris Rees.

Tables after Draw 3

Pool A Pool B
Quebec  3-0 USA I       3-0
Norway  2-0-1 Cancade     2-1
USA II  2-1 Ilderton    2-1
Cameron 1-2 Bradford    1-2
Toronto 0-2-1 Newfld/Lab  1-2
Sudbury 0-3 Fraser      0-3

Results from each draw can be viewed HERE. The schedule is available HERE

In the recreational division where all four games over the two draws ended within 2 points, Team Wong-Sing won both their games and Michel and visitors Lennoxville split while Simpson will have to wait another day.

CTV's cameras were on the ice this morning talking to Ottawa's Bruce Cameron and Richard Fraser. You can see the segment HERE. Click on the November 18 wheelchair curling link.

Ottawa hosts 7th Cathy Kerr Nov. 18-20 - world's largest event  11/14/2011

The 7th Annual Cathy Kerr Memorial Spiel will take place next weekend at Ottawa's RA Curling Club with the first draw starting at 8.30 AM Friday.

With 12 teams registered for the Competitive Division and 4 more playing in the Recreational Division, the bonspiel is once again the largest wheelchair curling event in the world.

The field is headed by Team Norway, defending champions Team Quebec, Canadian champions Team Cancade from Manitoba and previous winners USA 1. Chris Rees brings his 2011 provincial champions, one of five Ontario teams plus teams from Sudbury, Newfoundland and Labrador and USA II that round out the field.

The recreational division is made up of Team Lennoxville (PQ) and three teams from the host Capital Wheelchair Curling Club.

The full draw schedule is HERE

Organisers would still welcome volunteers to clean and move rocks during games. If you can spare some time please contact Johanna at  613-521-0404

Jungnell returns but Scotland wins 5th Rolli Trophy, Bern SUI 11/14/2011

Sweden's Jalle Jungnell, who announced his retirement last season, choosing to coach rather than skip his national team at the 2011 Worlds, returned to the ice with his 2010 Paralympic bronze medal team at the 5th Annual Rolli Trophy in Bern, Switzerland this past weekend.

It was Scotland however who took the top two places in the 7 team field, with Aileen Neilson skipping Angie Malone, Tom Killin and Gregor Ewan past her partner Michale McCreadie's Scotland II squad. Sweden placed 3rd.

Lausanne Olympique's Eric Décorvet was the only player on the three Swiss and one Italian team to have competed in Finland last week.

Full details from the event can be found HERE

Quebec take 6th Annual US Open in Utica, NY  11/13/2011

Ben Lessard skipped his Quebec teammates to a 7-0 sweep of the competition at the 6th Annual US Open in Utica, NY this weekend. The win, their first since the 2010 Cathy Kerr. builds on their 3rd place in Richmond earlier this month. Lessard, Carl Marquis, Johanne Daly and Denis Grenier play out of the Magog CC under coach Germain Tremblay. Their regular 2nd, Sébastien Boisvert, will rejoin the team at the Cathy Kerr.

Bruce Cameron's Ottawa team (5-2) were 2nd and Ken Gregory's Bradford squad (4-3) were 3rd.

The two USA teams finished a combined 5-9 and will be hoping that the rebuilt programme will make enough progress to avoid relegation at next February's Worlds.

Final standings after Round Robin

Quebec 7-0
Ottawa: 5-2
Bradford: 4-3
Toronto: 3-4 *defeated Nova Scotia and USA #1 head to head
Nova Scotia: 3-4 *defeated USA #1 head to head
USA #1: 3-4
USA #2: 2-5
Can/Am: 1-6

Full line scores are available HERE. The Draw Schedule and Rules are HERE

Chase Curling Club in central BC looking for wheelchair users  11/11/2011

Wheelchair users in the Chase area, from Kamloops to Salmon Arm and beyond are invited to make use of the very wheelchair friendly facilities at the Chase Curling Club.

Andrew Casavant tells me he is looking to get  in contact with individuals or groups catering to wheelchair users who might be interested in taking up curling, and especially stick curling, which is probably the format best suited to wheelchair play. He can be reached by email for more information.

Slovakia and Italy prevail at Worlds Qualifying  11/10/2011

The top two teams after round robin play were also the two teams who qualified for the 2012 Worlds after the Page playoff, but it wasn't easy.

Italy (7-1) got off to a fast start against Slovakia (5-3) taking 2 with hammer and  then adding a steal, only to fall behind 4-3 in the 3rd. A 3 of their own saw Italy's lead restored at the break, but Slovakia tied the game with 2 in the 5th.

Again Italy struck back, posting 3 in the 6th only to give two back in the 7th. With the hammer and the score 9-8 in their favour, the Italians looked to put away the nightmare of the 2010 playoff by keeping the house clean. That didn't happen.

With Slovakia sitting shot, Italian skip Andrea Tabanelli missed a peel with his first stone. Slovakia drew for second shot behind a guard and Tabanelli missed his take-out attempt, giving up a steal of 2 and allowing Slovakia, in just their third year of competition, to take the first of the two Qualification slots.

Slovakia    0 0 4 0 2 0 2 2 - 10
Italy *     2 1 0 3 0 3 0 0 -  9

A surprised Slovak Skip Radoslav Duriš, said: “It’s very impressive. There were highs and lows in this game for both teams but in each end we thought we could do it. The win for us is amazing.

“We lost four games in a row in the middle of this event and at that point we said ‘Houston we have a problem!’ but since then we have won every game. It was a dream for us to go to Korea – and now we are going.”

The 3 vs. 4 game Germany faced Finland without their skip. Jens Jäger injured his had the previous evening and Caren Totzauer moved up, but gave up a 6 ender and then a steal of 4 either side of the break before losing 13-2 in six ends.

Finland  *  1 2 0 6 4 0 x x  13
Germany     0 0 1 0 0 1 x x   2

That set up a match between Finland and Italy. Skip Andrea Tabanelli later professed to feeling lucky to get a second chance.

He rode his luck all the way to the last rock of an extra end.

Italy began with a single with hammer but immediately gave up 3 and then a steal of 1 before taking a point to go in to  the break down 4-2.  A steal of 1 in the 5th and a 2 with hammer in the 7th levelled the scores at 5.

Early in the 8th Italy looked good to steal the game. But Markku Karjalainen made a great shot on his first stone to double out Italy's shot rocks. Tabanelli drew partially behind a centre stone to count one and Finland had a hit and stick for the win. They hit but rolled out, forcing an extra end but keeping the hammer.

Both teams showed signs of mounting pressure in the final end but Markku Karjalainen again threw a double take-out with his first throw. His second take-out attempt, however, may have been slightly over-thrown. It missed and Italy could finally put 2010 behind them and celebrate the steal that qualified them for South Korea next February.

Finland  0 3 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 - 5
Italy *  1 0 0 1 1 0 2 0 1 - 6

A relieved Andrea Tabanelli said:  “I was upset this morning, due to a mistake I made with my last stone, I lost us the game. We are very lucky to have a second chance and play again this afternoon. I am delighted that we won. This win is for my team, who are fantastic and have managed to form a strong bond.”

Finnish skip Vesa Hellman was philosophical. “We’ll try again next year. We showed massive improvement this year, so we will be coming to next year’s competition with a completely different mindset. After a couple of days, I’m sure we’ll be able to enjoy this achievement too, even though we didn’t manage to achieve the spot at the Worlds.”

Italy and Slovakia join Canada, Scotland, Norway, Russia, China, Korea, USA and Sweden at the 2012 Worlds in Chuncheon City, South Korea February 18 -25.

The 2012 Worlds Qualifying event will return to the Kisakallio Sports Institute, Lohja, Finland from the 3-8 November. Kate Caithness, President of the World Curling Federation, said: “The Finnish Curling Association and Kisakallio Sports Institute have delivered an excellent event. The institute provides top class facilities and optimal competition conditions for disabled athletes. We are delighted to return to Kisakallio once more and would like to thank the organizing committee for all their hard work this year.”

Click HERE for full statistics, line scores and team line-ups. The event also has a Facebook page.

Wheelchair and visually impaired spiel at  Idleton CC Nov. 12  11/8/2011

The Idleton CC near London ON is hosting a wheelchair and visually impaired spiel on Saturday November 12. Wheelchair curling at Idleton is coached by Ernie Comerford who has seen a rapid rise in the numbers participating as well as having two of his players invited to play in Richmond BC by national team coaching staff.

You can read about Saturday's event in this article   

Worlds Qualifying Day 5  11/8/2011

At the start of the final day of round robin play at the Worlds Qualifying Tournament in Loja, Finland, seven teams held their own fate. They just had to avoid defeat in the final two draws to join Italy in the playoffs. Only one, Slovakia, succeeded, beating their Czech neighbours 8-4 in the morning and Germany 7 -5 in the afternoon.

The Czechs then had to beat Italy to hope for a tie-break, but the confident Italians, leading the round robin table as they had in 2010, were in no mood to be beaten, eliminating the Czechs  7-1.

Italy's morning opponents, Denmark had only to win one of their final two games to clinch a playoff spot, but lost to the leaders 8-4 and then lost to Japan 6-5 in the day's tightest game. Japan were ahead 4-1 at the break, but saw the Danes level  the score with a steal of 2 in the 8th. Japan, already eliminated after suffering a 5th loss to Finland in the morning, played spoiler by taking the extra end for a 6 -5 win that pushed the Danes into a tie-break.

Germany and Switzerland could not both avoid a 4th defeat as they played each other in the morning, Germany coming out on top  6-3. Switzerland salvaged a tie-break chance by beating bottom of the table Latvia 9-4 in the final draw.

With Italy facing Slovakia in the Page 1 vs.2 game, there were four teams on four losses to decide who played in the Page 3 vs. 4 game, In the tie-breakers, Germany completed a miserable day for Denmark by posting a 4 in the 2nd end and holding on for a 7-5 win. Hosts Finland gave the home fans a stake in tomorrow's playoff round, beating Switzerland 7-3 after getting off to a 4-0 lead after 3 ends.

The winner of tomorrow's Italy vs Slovakia game will claim the first qualification spot, while the loser will play the winner of the Germany vs. Finland game to decide who gets the second qualification place The two teams will join the eight (Canada, Scotland, Norway, Russia, China, Korea, USA and Sweden) already qualified for the 2012 Worlds next February 18-25 in South Korea.

Standings after Draw 9 and tie-breaks

Italy       7 - 1
Slovakia    5 - 3
Finland     5 - 4 won tie-break
Germany     5 - 4 won tie-break
Denmark     4 - 5 lost tie-break
Switzerland 4 - 5 lost tie-break
Czech Rep . 3 - 5
Japan       3 - 5
Latvia      2 - 6

Click HERE for full statistics, line scores and team line-ups. The event also has a Facebook page.

6th Annual US Open in Utica NY - November 11-13   11/8/2011

The 6th Annual U.S. Open begins this Friday in Utica, NY. Eight teams will play a full round robin with head to head records, total ends or if necessary total points as tie-breaks.

There are eight teams registered. Patrick MacDonald skips the new-look Team USA I with Penny Greely, James Joseph and David Palmer. Bob Prenoveau skips USA II with Tim Kelly, JR Wynne and Meghan Lino. The American teams will be coached by Rusty Schieber.

Laughie Rutt, promoted to skip after Mike Fitzgerald's move, is bringing a Nova Scotia side of Trendal Hubley-Bolivar, Debbie Earle and newcomer Keith Williams (see blog comment).

There are three Ontario teams who will be challenging again for provincial honours this season. Ottawa's Bruce Cameron brings Doug Morris, Jamie Eddy and Christine Lavallee. Branford's (ON) Ken Gregory skips Collinda Joseph, Frank Cannarella and Jim Primervera. Toronto's Chris Rees leads Carl Bax, Alec Denys and Shauna Petrie.

Benoit Lessard's Quebec team includes Carl Marquis, Sébastien Boisvert and Johanne Daly. Ontarian Katie Katie Paialunga is in charge of a mixed Canadian/American squad with Jimmy Kenner, David Sawyer and Pam Wilson.

The Draw Schedule and Rules are HERE

Worlds Qualifying Day 4  11/8/2011

With just two more draws to play, eight of the nine teams at the 2011  Worlds Qualifying Tournament in Lohja, Finland, were still in with a chance of making the playoff. The one certainty: Italy with just one loss after 7 Draws, is guaranteed a berth.

Italy's only defeat was to Japan in the morning draw. Japan, Vancouver Paralympians, lost their opening 3 games but their narrow win over table-toppers Italy was their second.

Down 5-2 after 3 ends they stole the next 3 points to inch ahead, but gave up a single in the 8th to see the score tied at 6. They then took 2 with hammer in the first extra end of the event to post an 8-6 win.

Kaneko Emi from the Japanese Curling Association said: “The team was feeling down after losing our first three games but all the other teams and our own technical staff have been very supportive. After two wins the team is feeling much more positive and happy now and hopefully we can continue that in our final games. We have a new team this year with two new players, both of whom bring a lot of positive energy to the group.”

Unfortunately for the Japanese they were unable to maintain momentum, giving up an 8th end 2 to the Czechs in a 5-4 loss this afternoon.

Four losses may still qualify for the playoffs as tomorrow's draws pit Germany and Switzerland, and the Czechs and Slovakia, each with 3 losses, against each other.

The host Finns, coming off a run of 3 consecutive victories, fell to Slovakia in the morning draw, tying the game at 6 with a 2 in the 8th, but unable to prevent Slovakia taking the winning point in the extra. Another narrow loss, 6-5 to Italy this afternoon drops Finland down the table with 4 losses, needing help to get to the playoffs.

Slovakia and Latvia, the least experienced of the competing sides, played a very tight game in the afternoon draw. Latvia went ahead on two double steals, but surrendered the last 4 points to lose 6-5, and drop out of contention. Slovakia moved to 3-3 and hold their fate in their own hands.

Germany, who had started so brightly, lost their only game today 9-4 to the Danes who then went on to edge the Swiss 6-5 this afternoon. The Danes leapfrogged Germany and Switzerland in the table and with the four teams below them playing each other tomorrow, need just one win tomorrow to clinch a playoff spot; against either Italy or Japan.

Standings after Draw 7

Italy       5 - 1
Denmark     4 - 2
Czech Rep . 3 - 3
Slovakia    3 - 3
Germany     3 - 3
Switzerland 3 - 3
Finland     3 - 4
Japan       2 - 4
Latvia      2 - 5

Click HERE for full statistics, line scores and team line-ups. The event also has a Facebook page.

Worlds Qualifying Day 3  11/7/2011

As play began on Day 3 of the Worlds Qualifying Tournament in Lohja, Finland, three teams were unbeaten. By the end of Draw 5 just one had a perfect record: Germany and Switzerland both losing to Italy.

Italian coach Giulio Regli was delighted with his team’s performance. Remembering that the Italian team had faltered after finding themselves in this position only a year ago, he cautioned that there were still four games of the round-robin to go.

"The team had to keep focused," Regli said.

Switzerland were first to face the new leaders, and nosed ahead 3-2 on a steal of 2 after the mid-game break. Italy came back to steal 2 in the 7th, and sealed the win 5-3 with a final stolen point in the 8th.

Italy then faced Germany, who had lost to Finland 7-4 this morning, after allowing 4 stolen points. They also may have lost some confidence as they surrendered seven more stolen points to Italy in an 11-1 loss.

Switzerland, like Germany, failed to recover from their morning defeat, allowing the Finns to grab an 8 -6 win with 3 in the 8th.

Per Christensen, Denmark's very experienced (and ex-Norway) coach, may have had some tough words for his under-performing national squad; whatever was or was not said, the Danes came out fighting today, blowing away the Czechs 13-5, and Latvia 15 -3.

Rookies Latvia had earlier disposed of Japan 10 - 6, stealing the game's final 5 points. Paralympics skip Yoji Nakajima's team may be feeling the absence of preparation occasioned by the series of natural disasters that hit his homeland this year, though Japan did regroup to post their first win, 9-3 over Slovakia in Draw 5.

Japan controlled that game with some great set up shots from the front end. Here's an observer's description of some fine play in the 3rd end that resulted in a steal of 2.

Japan and Slovakia each had a stone in the 4ft, both well hidden behind guards but Slovakia had other counting stones in the house, and the hammer.

Skip Yoji decided to play a hit and roll off a stone in the 12ft. to attempt to remove or make sure of the stealing point. The first two ends had been decided on a measure for the point.

He made it perfectly, pushing the Slovakian counter out of the 4ft, and sitting 2 buried. Radoslav Duriš attempted a raise but was unable to outcount Japan's stones, giving up a steal of 2.

Standings after Draw 5

Italy       4 - 0
Finland     3 - 2
Germany     3 - 2
Switzerland 3 - 2
Denmark     2 - 2
Latvia      2 - 3
Czech Rep . 1 - 3
Japan       1 - 3
Slovakia    1 - 3

Click HERE for full statistics, line scores and team line-ups. The event also has a Facebook page.

Worlds Qualifying Day 2 - 11/6/2011

Italy are a Cinderella team. They dropped into the qualifying pool by losing in a 5 way relegation tie-break at the 2009 Worlds, and last year in this event, made the 1 vs. 2 game before losing to both China and Russia.

Their two-time Paralympics skip, Andrea Tabanelli, had to leave before play began last year, but after an opening bye, has steered his team to two wins on Day 2, 9-2 over Slovakia and 10-4 over Latvia.

A very experienced neutral observer reports: "Latvia tied Italy after 5 ends but missed their opportunities to pressure Italy when it mattered. Their lack of strategic understanding often let Italy off the hook. Latvia missed opportunities to score a big end on numerous errors."

A tough assessment of a rookie team, but probably more useful to them than the usual anodyne public relations coach-speak if the team is serious about competing at the world level.

Germany and Switzerland also posted two wins. Germany beat newcomers Latvia 9-5 and were gracious in post game remarks.

"We were really surprised by how strong a team Latvia was," said skip Jens Jäger. "They are very precise and good players and have clearly very good team spirit. It is always a great feeling when the wheelchair curling family grows and grows."

Germany blanked Japan 12-0 in the afternoon draw.

Co-leaders Switzerland stole their way to an early  7-2 lead against the Czechs in Draw 2 before hanging on for a 7-6 victory. They repeated the pattern against Slovakia in Draw 4, leading 7-0 after two ends before cementing a 10-6 win with 2 in the 8th.

Hosts Finland posted their first win with a 5-ender and a 4-ender in a 14-1 rout of Denmark. The Finns shot an impressive 67% as a team.

"It was like having a different team on the ice," said lead Tuomo Aarnikka. "We had a great start to the game. We stole five points in the second end and after that we managed to keep the game simple for us and the opposition was the one who had to keep taking the risks."

The Finns were unable to maintain momentum, however, surrendering 6 steals in an 8-1 loss to the Czech Republic in Draw 3.

Standings after Draw 3

Germany      3 - 0
Switzerland  3 - 0
Italy        2 - 0
Czech Rep.   1 - 2
Latvia       1 - 2
Finland      1 - 2
Slovakia     1 - 2
Japan        0 - 2
Denmark      0 - 2

Click HERE for full statistics, line scores and team line-ups.

Canada I sweeps to victory at Richmond International  11/5/2011

Jim Armstrong's World Champion Canada I team of Darryl Neighbour, Ina Forest and Sonja Gaudet completed their round robin with a seventh win, gently over RCD 6-2, while second place Cancade pounded Alberta 10 - 1, stealing the last seven points.

USA took 3 in the  5th in a  6-2 win over BC, enough to lift them above Canada II who lost to Quebec 4-2 with just 5 ends played.

In the playoff Canada I faced Manitoban Team Cancade for the $1,000 first prize and got off to a fast start, taking 3 with hammer. Cancade held them close the rest of the way but lost 7-5, earning the $600 second prize.

Quebec blanked USA 10-0 to take home $400 for third. Teams also earned  $50 for each round robin win.   

Standings after Draw 7

Canada I   7 - 0
Cancade    5 - 2
Quebec     5 - 2
USA        4 - 3
Canada II  3 - 4
Alberta    2 - 5
BC         2 - 5
RCD        0 - 7

Draw and rosters are available HERE

Draw 7 line scores are available HERE and playoff line scores are available HERE

Worlds Qualifying Day 1 - 11/5/2011

The World Wheelchair Curling Qualifying Tournament began today in Lohja, Finland, with nine teams competing for the final two places in the ten team 2012 World Championship in South Korea next February.

Manfred Bollinger, the tournament's most experienced skip, edged his team to a 7-6 win over Japan in the opening draw. Team Japan had interrupted their Qualifier training camp to compete in the Friendship league in Hokkaido, Japan, at the end of October (where they finished bottom of the table) and with Japanese curling centred in the north of the country so badly affected by the earthquake, tsunami and its repercussions, had not had the easiest of preparations. So holding the Swiss was an encouraging result for their experienced skip Yoji Nakajima and his rookie squad.

The good times were rolling again for Germany, whose skip Jens Jäger had been alarmed at my previous description of ebullient. (It had somehow become mangled in translation.) They beat the Czechs 7-4.

Team Germany has a new coach (Bernd Weiser) and travelling team official Petra Schlitt professing general happiness with everything, adding: "This new group has great team spirit, and more than anything else, they want to keep the playing fun for everyone." Those of us who fondly remember their travelling supporters singing in the stands at the 2009 Worlds, hope the fun lasts the week.

Hosts Finland were feeling confident before their opener against Latvia. Their skip, Vessa Hellman, said: "Practice went well and the ice feels quite good. The stones are quite a lot less swingy than last year, but they give us a good amount of curl."

Unfortunately for the home fans, the Finns lost to Latvia 3-7. It was Latvia's first win at this level. "Playing in Scotland last month was good preparation," an excited vice-skip Ojars Briedis said.

Slovakia, also relative newcomers to the sport at the World level, beat Denmark 11-4 in the remaining match, while Italy had a bye.

Rock moving and time-keeping duties are being performed by student volunteers led by Jari Moberg  "The students are extremely active in helping out in the tournament. It serves as good practice for them in how to organise and help out in sporting events and thus it is a useful experience for them also in their studies. The fact that it is an international event is always a nice addition because the students get a chance to use English."

Draw 2 begins at 10.30 local time.  Tournament organizers plan live webcast coverage of some games.

The draw and game schedule can be found HERE. Results will be posted HERE.

Richmond International Day 3  -   11/4/2011

Canada I continued their cruise through the field on the third day of the Richmond International, stealing four ends against USA in the morning before allowing a two in the 6th and final end of a 10-2 win. In the afternoon they beat BC 9-2, padding the score with a steal of 4 in the 7th; the only game of the eight played past the 6th end.

Quebec, lying 2nd in the table at start of play, started strong against Alberta, stealing 3 in the 1st, the winning margin of the 7-4 result. In the afternoon they met Manitoba's Cancade team and lost 6-4. Chris Sobkowicz's side had earlier beaten Canada II 7-2 and their double put them in second place at the end of play. Alberta slumped to a second defeat, losing to Canada II 7-6 in a game where multiple points were scored 5 of the 6 ends.

The pick-up team representing the RCD hosts took another beating in the morning 12-0 defeat by BC, but regrouped in the afternoon though still losing 5-4 to USA on a stolen final point.

Standings after Draw 6

Canada I   6 - 0
Cancade    4 - 2
Quebec     4 - 2
Canada II  3 - 3
USA        3 - 3
Alberta    2 - 4
BC         2 - 4
RCD        0 - 6

Draw and rosters are available HERE

Draw 5 line scores are available HERE and Draw 6 line scores are available HERE

Richmond International Day 2 11/3/2011

Canada I were caught napping with an 8-1 lead allowing Chris Sobkowicz's Manitoban Cacade team to post a 4 in the 6th end. They awoke to post a 4 of their own and complete a 12-5 victory in the morning draw. They posted another 12 in the afternoon, allowing Quebec just a single point in seven ends: Quebec's first defeat after their morning 6-1 defeat of BC.

Canada II have settled on an unusual line-up with Mark Ideson skipping from lead, in front of trendal Hubley-Bolivar, Darlene Jackman and Mike Munro. They posted their first win, 5-4 over USA in 6 ends in the morning draw before whitewashing the RCD host team 11-0 in Draw 4. RCD could be forgiven if they felt a little shell-shocked having been hammered 13-0 in just 3 ends by Alberta in the morning.

USA stole 2 in the 7th and final end in a 6-4 win over Bruno Yizek's Alberta and BC suffered their second loss of the day - 9-3 to Manitoba's Cancade.

Standings after Draw 4

Canada I   4 - 0
Quebec     3 - 1
Alberta    2 - 2
Cancade    2 - 2
USA        2 - 2
Canada II  2 - 2
BC         1 - 3
RCD        0 - 4

Draw and rosters are available HERE

Day 2 line scores are available HERE

Worlds Qualifying begins Nov. 5 in Lohja, Finland  11/2/2011

The World Wheelchair Curling Qualifying Tournament begins Saturday November 5th at the Kisakallio Sports Institute in Lohja, Finland, site of last year's event. Nine teams will compete: Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Slovakia and Switzerland.

They will play a full round robin, the top four teams entering a Page playoff on Thursday November 10. The top two finishers join the top eight from the 2011 World Championships, and will compete at the 2012 Worlds in Chuncheon City, South Korea next February 18-25 for Sochi Paralympics qualifying points.

Competition between the top teams is likely to be especially tough this year as Germany, Italy, Japan and Switzerland all competed at the Vancouver Paralympics, while the Czechs have the experience of hosting the 2011 Worlds.

There was a great deal of drama surrounding team Germany post Vancouver, with ebullient skip Jens Jäger shown the door after failing to build on his bronze medal performance at the 2009 Worlds. Unfortunately for Germany, Jäger's successor and ex-3rd, Marcus Sieger, was unable to avoid relegation in 2011 leading to Jäger's return to the national team.

Jäger has been traveling to European spiels with his own team, the Mainhattan Ice Wheelers, with mixed success, but arrives in Finland with a new coach as a favourite to gain at least a playoff spot.

No-one in Lohja has more experience than Swiss skip Manfred Bollinger, who impressed international coaches at the recent Kinross spiel where Switzerland defeated Canada en route to the final.

The other skips with Paralympic experience are Italy's Andrea Tabanelli who skipped the host side in Torino (2006), Denmark's Kenneth Ørbaekalso, also in Torino and Japan's Yoji Nakajima in Vancouver.

In a continuing trend, 8 of the 9 teams list two female members while the other, Slovakia, travel with just a four person team.

Hosts Finland are still looking for their first Worlds appearance. Radek Musilek returns to skip the Czech’s after their 10th place finish on home soil at the 2011 Worlds which sent them back to the qualification event.

Latvia, skipped by Aleksandrs Dimbovkis, are competing at the international level for just the second year. Slovakia’s Radoslav Duriš and his team hope it will be third time lucky after finishing 6th last year.

Tournament organizers plan live webcast coverage of some games.

The draw and game schedule can be found HERE. Results will be posted HERE.

You can see results from all major championships from 2006 by clicking on "Events" at the top of the page.

Richmond International Day 1  11/2/2011

The first of four days of very competitive wheelchair curling began this morning at the Richmond CC as 8 teams started a full round robin to decide who will playoff for the $1,000 1st prize next Saturday.

The event, sponsored by the Richmond Committee For Disability (RCD) saw Canada bring their World Champion team, as well as a neophyte Canada II team, while BC, Alberta, Quebec and Manitoba (Cancade) all fielded strong established teams with lots of competitive experience. USA featured only one player from 2010, skip Patrick MacDonald, while a mixture of players from Richmond and Portland (OR) represented the RCD hosts.

Canada I crushed Canada II in the opening draw and more significantly took out Bruno Yizek's Alberta 9-3 in Draw II.

Gary Cormack's BC were edged 6-3 by Alberta in the opener but rebounded to hand Canada II their second loss, 9-5 in the afternoon.

Quebec handled USA 5-1 and blanked RCD 9-0, while Chris Sobkowicz's Cancade team also blanked RCD but were then beaten by USA, 7-4 in Draw 2.

Play was generally slow, with most games ending in 6 ends, a couple managing just 5, and only one game lasting 7 ends.

Standings after Draw 2

Canada I  2 - 0
Quebec    2 - 0
Alberta   1 - 1
BC        1 - 1
Cancade   1 - 1
USA       1 - 1
Canada II 0 - 2
RCD       0 - 2

Draw, Scores and rosters are available HERE

Home favourites take 4th Wetzikon Invitational in Zurich 11/1/2011

Manfred Bollinger skipped his national team to a decisive win at the 4th Annual Wetzikon Invitational in Zurich, Switzerland October 22-23.

A ten team field often used as a World's Qualifying warm-up, this year attracted Italy, the Czech Republic and Team Germany, skipped once again by Jens jager, back from the wilderness and with a new coach after Germany's failure at the 2011 Worlds.

Final standings and team members are HERE

Team Canada introducing new faces at  Richmond International 10/31/2011

Team Canada is bringing five athletes less familiar to west coast fans to compete in the Richmond International. Nova Scotia's Trendal Hubley-Bolivar and Newfoundland and Labrador's Darlene Jackman are likely to play with rookies Mark Ideson and Mike Munro from London, Ontario, on Canada II, while Ontarian Collinda Joseph replaces Anne Hibberd on Bruno Yizek's Alberta side.

Though Mark and Mike have only been curling a year, their coach Ernie Comeford is impressed with their rapid progress and is convinced they will be major players in the future.

"After all Jim, Daryl and Bruno are over 60 and both Mark and Mike are in early 30s at the most. The potential is there," he said.

They also fit a physical profile attractive to the national coaching staff.

You can watch them and seven other teams at the Richmond CC starting this Wednesday. Draw 1 begins at 9.30am. You can see the teams and the Draw HERE

Mark Wherrett moves to Winnipeg, Ficek looking for a third 10/30/2011

Mark Wherrett, who appeared on all four Northern Ontario national championship teams, the past three as vice to Wayne Ficek, has relocated to Manitoba.

"I moved back to Winnipeg late last summer," he said, "and have been curling with the gang in Winnipeg, I played basketball with Chris, George and Dennis in the eighties. I also lived in Winnipeg up to 2000 so it was more like coming back home. The curling rink in Dryden closed this fall so it turned out to be a good move for me with being able to continue to curl."

Mark replaces Don Kalinski on the Manitoban "Team Cascade" at this year's Richmond International, but leaves Wayne Ficek short of a third back in Northern Ontario.  Team Ficek's Chester Draper and Cindy Hoffstrom also curled out of the defunct Dryden CC and their playing status for the coming season is unclear.

News from Manitoba  10/30/2011

Manitoba, the current national champions, were a team born into controversy with some consideration given by the Province to not appearing at the 2011 Edmonton Nationals. Gold medals probably eased any Curl Manitoba qualms about sponsoring a self-selected and unopposed provincial representative

A proposed Spring meeting to discuss minimum playdown requirements and/or selection protocols apparently did not materialise, but as this season begins, skip Chris Sobkowicz has gathered a group of eight who are participating in a development program sponsored by Cancade Inc.

They play in 3 mixed leagues, practice twice a week, and play in 3 different two person stick leagues.

"It's completely open to anyone," Chris told me. "It's like a sports academy where we all learn the same strategies and techniques, work collectively on our program of activities with a competitive angle, and of course enjoy each other's company.

"We'll be hosting a "You can Do it" camp later in November headed by coach Rob Lamb and the MCA. This will focus mainly on people new to the game, and offer a recreational component."

"Team Cascade" will compete in next week's Richmond International, with Northern Ontario transplant Mark Wherrett replacing Don Kalinsky from the national championship squad.

The 2012 Team Manitoba will be chosen by provincial team coach Rob Lamb from those participating in the Cascade programme.

Richmond Centre for Disability hosts 5th International Nov 2-5 10/28/2011

The 5th Annual International Bonspiel organised by the Richmond Centre For Disability begins Wednesday November 2nd at the Richmond CC, with a full 8 team round robin ending with the playoff round Saturday November 5th.

Team Canada will be fielding its World Champion team in their final competitive appearance before they defend their title in South Korea, Feb. 18-25.

Also competing for the $1,000 first prize will be the 2011 Quebec champions, the Manitoban and Albertan finalists at the 2011 Nationals, 2010 National Champions BC's Team Cormack, Team USA, a mixed US and Canadian RCD team, and a Canada II team tba.

The event boasts the most competitive field outside of the national championship, and viewing is free. Teams can practice Tuesday afternoon, and Draw One begins Wednesday at 9.30am.

Full information is HERE

Lots of opportunities to learn in Nova Scotia  10/28/2011

CurlAtlantic is sponsoring eight weekends where wheelchair users and anyone interested in wheelchair curling can learn, practice and develop their playing and/or assistance and coaching skills.

The free sessions will include on and off-ice time and will be led by Trendall Hubley-Bolivar, a 3-time Provincial Champion and current National bronze medallist.

They begin at Halifax's Mayflower CC on November 5, 2.30 - 5pm, and at the New Caledonia CC in Pictou, NS, on January 14. You can view the announcement and full schedule HERE

Contact Katarina Hakansson (902 240-9870) for more information.

3rd Annual Asian Friendship League, Hokkaido, Japan, Oct 28-30 10/27/2011

The 3rd Asian Friendship League begins Friday, October 28 through October 30, at Moseushi Curling Hall, in Hokkaido, Japan. Six teams are competing with China's Prague World Championship team joining Korea's 2011 World's silver medalists challlenging four Japanese teams.

More information for readers of Japanese is availale HERE, while entering the page url into Google Translate is an option for the rest of us.

Sonja Gaudet graces the 2012 Women of Curling Calendar 10/27/2011

Two time Paralympian gold medalist and current Team Canada lead Sonja Gaudet, already the photogenic ambassador for Canadian wheelchair curling, will grace a month of the 2012 Women Of Curling Calendar, being sold as a fundraiser for Shoot For A Cure, a spinal paralysis research charity.

You can read more, and order a copy of the calendar, HERE

USA team pool announced after tryout camp 10/26/2011

Eight US wheelchair curlers have been selected to form the playing pool from which Team USA 2012 will be chosen after a 14 candidate three-day individual tryout competition at the Madison CC in McFarland, Wis.

Patrick McDonald (Madison, Wis.)
James Joseph (New Hartford, N.Y.)
Penny Greely (Green Bay, Wis.)
Bob Prenoveau (Chittenango, N.Y.)
David Palmer (Mashpee, Mass.)
Meghan Lino (East Falmouth, Mass.)
Tim Kelly (Rockford, Ill.)
Gerald Wynne Jr. (Plover, Wis.) who received a donated wheelchair from Ki Mobility of Stevens Point, Wis., to assist in his quest to make Team USA.

The first four all have previous international experience.

The selection was based on individual skills testing, game participation and strategy assessment as well as interviews to determine team/player compatibility. The squad will participate in the several highly competitive wheelchair curling events in November to help determine Team USA at the 2012 World Wheelchair Curling Championship Feb. 18-25 in Chuncheon City, South Korea.

Daw "released" as manager as Vancouver CC moves to Hillcrest 10/26/2011

Torino gold medal skip Chris Daw has been "released" from his contract as Manager of the Vancouver CC just prior to the club moving into its new premises as part of the Hillcrest Centre, the 2010 Olympic venue.

He has now returned to Ontario with his family. You can read his account on his blog.

The Hillcrest Centre officially opens this Saturday, October 29th, and the curling ice will be fully wheelchair accessible.

Russia II over Scotland II for Kinross title 10/21/2011

Russia II proved the class of the field, winning the final of the Kinross International 9-4 over Scotland II. Switzerland won their last two games to take second place in Group A, going on to beat Group B runners-up Norway 9-4 for 3rd place. Norway earned their playoff spot on ends scored, after tying with Canada II and Scotland 1 in round robin play.

Final round robin tables, playoff line scores and team photos are on the blog.

Canada 1 finished with a 2-2 record, Ina Forrest rejoining the team in Amsterdam prior to their flying to Scotland.  TC coach Wendy Morgan professed everyone was pleased with the result though neither team qualified for the playoffs. "Early season tweaking ... everyone pleased." Bruno Yizek and Chris Sobkowicz shared skipping duties on Canada II.

An organiser's report on the final day can be read HERE.

And Goose makes 3 - leaving USA 2012 selection wide open  10/20/2011

Augusto 'Goose' Perez was the third Tam USA member, with Jacqui Kapinowski and James Pierce, to quit the program over the summer. This throws team selection wide open as 14 candidates gather at the Madison CC in McFarland, Wisconsin, the new centre for wheelchair curling in America, for the annual selection camp October 20-23.

Jimmy Joseph (49, New Hartford, NY) is the one survivor from the 2006 and 2010 Paralympic team and he will be joined by 2010 Paralympian Pat McDonald (44, Madison WI) who has moved his family from California to be more involved with the program. Penny Greely (40, Green Bay WI) returns from the 2011 team, and Bob Prenoveau (46, Chittanango NY), who was a part of the 2005 and 2007 World Championship teams, is the other athlete with international wheelchair curling experience.

The 3-day camp will select eight who will then compete at two November events before the five person team for the 2012 Worlds is announced. National coach Steve Brown heads a five person selection committee looking for individual skills, game participation, strategic understanding and that catchall loved by coaches, "team/player compatibility." The eventual five will also have impressed in cumulative performance, on/off ice behaviour, team dynamics and training regimen.

Joining Jimmy, Pat, Penny and Rob are:

Catherine Cummins - 47, Portland, OR
Tyler Halatek - 40, Green Bay, WI
Stephen Hart - 62, Portland, OR
Tim Kelly - 38, Rockford, IL
Jimmy Kenner - 50, Green bay, WI
Megan Lino - 27, East Falmouth, MA
David Palmer - 51, Mashpee, MA
Steven Roberts - 16, Vancouver, WA
Pam Wilson - 56, Westminster, CO
Gerald Wynne Jnr. - 45, Plover, WI

Scots and Russian second strings lead at end of Kinross Day 2 10/19/2011

Scotland II beat Switzerland 8-6 on the strength of a 5 spot in the 3rd end of the morning sraw, and continued with a 7-6 defeat of Scotland III to stay top in Pool A at the end of Day 2 at the Kinross International.

Russia II beat Canada II 6-4 after three consecutive steals put them ahead 3-0 at the midway break, maintaining their unbeaten record atop Pool 2.

Canada I bounced back from their opening defeat, beating Scotland III by 8-4 and Russia I by 10-3.

Tables and full line scores can be seen  HERE

Team Canada finalist for IPC 2010 Paralympics Best Team Award 10/18/2011

Team Canada is one of five finalists for the Inernational Paralympic Committee's "Best Team" Award. Jim Armstrong, Darryl Neighbour, Ina Forrest, Sonja Gaudet and Bruno Yizek defended Canada's Paralympic title with a 7-2 round robin record before beating Sweden, and then Korea in the final.

Also being considered are the US and Japanese Sledge Hockey teams and the Russian Men's and Women's Cross Country Skiing Relay Teams.

The winner will be announced in December. The IPC news release is HERE.

Scots sweep Canada in opening draw of Kinross International 10/18/2011

Canada's two teams played in the final of the Norway Open on Sunday and two days later faced Scotland's best on the opening day of the Kinross International in Scotland. They lost both games, giving up a steal in each final end.

Canada 1    *    0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 - 3
Scotland 2       0 1 0 0 2 0 1 1 - 5

Canada 2    *    0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 - 2
Scotland 1       0 0 3 0 0 0 1 1 - 5

The ten team tournament includes teams from Norway, Latvia, Russia and Switzerland competing in two pools, with the first and second in each pool competing in Thursday afternoon's playoff.

In other results, Switzerland beat Russia 1 by 7-5, and Russia II beat Norway 8-5. Latvia and Scotland III had byes.

You can see the table and full line scores HERE and the tournament program with team line-ups HERE

Wheelchair curling club needs your online vote NOW  10/17/2011

The South Lanarkshire Wheelchair Curling Club is applying for a community development grant from the Royal Bank of Scotland. You can read about their application HERE.

The club trains regularly at the Hamilton Ice Rink and will host an international event next January 18 and 19.

Secretary David Morgan said: “The money would go towards the international event as well as the development of the club.

“It’s important for people to vote for us because there’s so many wheelchair users that are caught up in poverty and can’t get access to funding which leaves them isolated because they can’t get out.

“This funding would help the social aspect and it’s a great initiative bringing an international event to South Lanarkshire.”

The organisation is hoping to run a special event on St Andrew’s Day this year and preparations are also underway for 10th birthday celebrations in February.

Voting closes at midday (7am eastern time in north America) on October 24. Here's the RBS voting page. It's a bit of a pain as you have to register before voting, but it's worth the 3 or 4 minutes that will take too support a club that is showing real initiative.

 Armstrong over Yizek in all-Canada Norwegian final  10/16/2011

Jim Armstrong's Canada 1  took the 2011 Norwegian Open with a 7-3 win over Bruno Yizek's Canada 2 team. Denmark beat Finland 4-3 to take 3rd place.

Canada 1 were one player short (see yesterday), which in a game without sweeping offers an advantage to the players throwing three stones.

Full results can be found HERE

Canada sweep into final of Norwegian Open  10/15/2011

Norway 1 only got to play one match against Canada in this weekend's Norway Open and were comfortably handled by Bruno Yizek's Canada 2 as the Canadians swept into tomorrow's final. Finland play Denmark for 3rd place.

Ina Forrest was unable to travel because of a family bereavement, but will join the team in Scotland.

Canada 1: Armstrong, Sobkowicz and Hibberd
Canada 2: Yizek, Neighbour, Smart and Gaudet

Full results can be found HERE

Wayne Ficek is CCA's featured athlete of the week  10/14/2011

Jean Mills' fascinating series of athlete profiles for the CCA continues to include wheelchair curlers with this week's focus on Northern Ontario champion skip Wayne Ficek.

Read Wayne's take on a rule change that would improve the sport, and much more, HERE.

Canada posts big margin wins at Norwegian Open  10/14/2011

Both Canadian teams posted big margin wins in the opening draws of the Norwegian Open at the Halden Curling Centre. The draw and results are available HERE.

Team Canada off to Norway and Scotland  10/12/2011

Team Canada's only international trip before defending their World title in South Korea next February is to Norway, where they play this weekend, then on to Scotland the following week.

The Norwegian Open, to be held at the Halden Centre starting Friday, failed to attract any other contending teams and will serve as a warm-up for the Kinross event beginning next Tuesday.

Canada is fielding two teams with Calgarians Anne Hibberd and Jack Smart joining the six carded squad members. In Norway, roles and positions will be flexible, but Canada's medal team expect to play together in Scotland.

The eight teams in Norway include four local teams, plus Finland and Denmark.

The ten teams that will compete in Kinross include two from Russia, plus Norway, Switzerland, Latvia and three Scots teams. Team members can be seen here.

NB's Capital Winter Club access fundraising close to $60K target 10/12/2011

As part of its 50th Anniversary celebration, the volunteer run Capital Winter Club in Fredericton NB has almost reached its $60,000 fundraising target that will, with matching provincial funds allow the installation of a lift to the upstairs viewing area.

Club president Rob Wight told The Daily Gleaner: "we're hoping to extend that at some time in the future to where we can actually have wheelchair curling and give people with disabilities access to the ice."

Give-it-a-go at The Peak in Stirling (SCO) October 5th  10/4/2011

There will be a "taster" session at The Peak in Stirling from 2.30 to 3.30  on Wednesday October 5th. Stirling WCC has 13 regular curlers and is actively seeking members.

Aileen Neilson voted "Athletes' Athlete" by Scottish peers 10/4/2011

Team Scotland skip Aileen Neilson was awarded the coveted Gordon Brown Memorial Trophy at the Scottish Disability Sport's AGM on September 28th.  This honour is voted for by fellow athletes to the individual who has excelled at the highest level in their sport.

Aileen skipped her team to a silver medal at the 2011 World Championships in Prague, a return to the podium for the former wheelchair curling powerhouse after several years. You can read the RCCC report on the event HERE

Team Canada devlopment camp begins in Richmond BC  9/30/2011

Twenty six wheelchair users and a dozen coaches will gather this weekend at the Richmond CC in British Columbia, the pay-off to last season's promise that the regional development camps held across the country would lead to opportunities to connect with the present Team Canada squad and their coaches. Attendees will have an opportunity to learn what it takes to win at the international level, and use those insights to strengthen their provincial programmes.

It's easy to underestimate just how much work, and how many hours go into developing the skills that underpin winning performance, hours that for the national squad are eased by financial support, and guided by coaching staff with the resources to analyse and adjust performance. While Canada is blessed with enormous coaching experience across the country, specific experience in wheelchair curling is very limited outside of the national program, and the efforts of a handful of provincially based coaches volunteering their time.

So the weekend will be an opportunity to spread the word about good practices and proven methods that can improve standards nationally. It will also probably demonstrate how wide is the gap both in execution and ambition between those athletes with access to expert coaching and training and the resources to devote significant hours each week to their sport, and those making their own way.

Expert coaching can change that equation, especially in the area of technique, on which all else rests, and which even experienced able-bodied coaches will find alien. A stable repeatable delivery is essential to success, and while individuals will differ in their throwing motions, delivery positions, and stick configurations depending on their physique, an educated eye can help maintain the consistency that eventually allows for measured change of force, and the ability to judge distance.

Anyone disappointed at not receiving an invite to Richmond can console themselves knowing that with a settled squad holding both Paralympic and World titles and unlikely to voluntarily give up carding system booty, the opportunity to break into the squad before 2014, baring accident, illness or even more dramatic legal imbroglios than a felony drug distribution conviction, remains slim to none. The true worth of the weekend will be whether teams competing in Thunder Bay next March arrive better prepared to bridge the gap between the National Champions, and the chosen.

Quebec's Johanne Daley is this week's CCA featured athlete  9/29/2011

Johanne Daley, who brought a wealth of high performance sport experience to her debut on curling ice in 2008, is this week's featured ahlete on the CCA website. Discover what rule she'd change, and how hard she can throw a takeout and much more in Jean Mills' profile HERE.

Wheelchair curling in the Yukon?  9/28/2011

The Yukon Curling Association, in a news release reported by the Whitehorse Daily Star, suggests they are interested in starting wheelchair curling in the territory. There were no details given for locations, or what if any clubs might be wheelchair accessible, but Yukon wheelchair users interested in participating should contact the YCA office at 867-668-7121 or by e-mail at yca@sportyukon.com

Calgary change of venue and Edmonton's ice is in  9/27/2011

The Ogden Legion CC, host for seven extremely successful years to Calgary's wheelchair curlers, succumbed to financial pressures and closed its doors this summer, forcing the wheelchair curling program to relocate to the Garrison Curling Club.

Regular weekly Sunday evening sessions resume at 4.45pm, commencing October 16th.

The ice is in at the Jasper Place CC, site of last year's Nationals and also host of this season's Provincial Championship January 20-22, 2012. A tweet from Cathy, the club manager () suggested a wheelchair curling clinic is planned for the October 1st weekend. Contact her for more information.

Invitation to 6th Open Czech Tournament 2011 9/22/2011

The event will be held from November 25th to November 27th at the Prague curling hall.

Entry forms and hotel information are available HERE and the booking deadline is October 24.

Ohioans offered an opportunity to learn to curl  9/22/2011

Columbus (Ohio) Curling Club is holding another learn to curl session on Sunday October 2nd from 9 - noon. The session is designed introduce wheelchair athletes to the sport of curling, as well as for able-bodied curlers interested in learning to teach wheelchair curling.

Cost is $10 per participant and veterans are free. Visit the club's website for more information and to sign up.

McCreadie steers Scotland II to season opening win in Denmark  9/21/2011

The 5th Annual Danish Open in Tårnby September 9-11 attracted a full complement of ten teams to open the 2011/2012 competitive curling season. Scotland, Russia and Norway each sent two teams, and Germany, Finland, Czech Republic and Denmark also competed.

Scotland II and the Czechs topped their groups (which were scored on more than won/loss records) with the Scots running our easy winners in the gold medal game and Russia taking 3rd. Gregor Ewan moved from Scotland I replacing an injured Jim Gault and did a fine job of calming any rookie nerves from Ian Donaldson and Gill Keith, according to coach Tony Zummack.

Final Standings - teams played a final crossover game between the two pools.

GB 2 beat Czech Republic for Gold
Russia 1 beat Norway I for Bronze
Russia 2 beat Finland for 5th
GB 1 beat Denmark for 7th
Germany beat Norway 2 for 9th

The Scots were coming from an intensive two week camp that straddled the end of August, one of several innovations their full-time coach has introduced this season. As reported by Bob Cowan, the wheelchair curlers attended as part of the newly integrated Royal Club/British Curling World Class Performance Programme, sharing ice and classroom time.

"It was a really good camp," said Zummack, and after eight days we had the opportunity to bring in some other competitive wheelchair curlers for a day, and then finish with a well-attended "give-it-a-go" session for wheelchair users and people interested in coaching, that several senior players stayed around for.

"We're spending a lot of time on the ice in supervised practice," he said, possible with a full-time national wheelchair coach. "From now on the squad of eight will be spending at least two 4-hour practice sessions a week, some where they will come to me, and some where I will travel to them. This hasn't been done in Scotland before, and we'll see how it goes this season, then evaluate.

"Six of the squad are using a parallel delivery and seven are using the (Eales) off-side brace, but the most important thing is they use a delivery that fits their body and with which they feel comfortable." It also appears they have dropped the long-range shooting style favoured by the previous regime.

Manitoban Dennis Thiessen featured on CCA website 9/20/2011

Team Manitoba 3rd Dennis Thiessen is the featured athlete on the newly revamped CCA website.

2011, after some local controversy over team formation, was a big year for Dennis and his teammates when, as Team Manitoba, they converted a string of three bronze medals into gold at the national championships in Edmonton. That win earned them an invitation to the end of September Team Canada Development/Evaluation camp in Richmond BC.

Find out who Dennis would invite to dinner, and what his favourite website is, by reading Jean Mills' profile HERE.

News from Team Canada  9/19/2011

There are six Canadian athletes currently receiving financial support through the national carding system; the five who won gold at last year's World Championships in Prague, plus Manitoban Chris Sobkowicz, skip of the current national champions, who receives a smaller "development" grant.

The six all participated in the optional monthly training camps at Edmonton's Saville Centre over the summer, and will be joined by 20 invitees and 9 coaches at a Development/Evaluation Camp that will be held in Richmond BC from September 30-October 2.

This camp, which had initially been proposed for the end of last season, is a follow-on from the series of regional camps held by national team staff and athletes throughout last season. Invitees to Richmond were chosen in part on impressions gained at those camps, as well as performance at observed competitions, and recommendations from regional coaches.

With the present Team Canada appearing as both Paralympic and World Champions, the camp is probably less about breaking into the national team than an opportunity for athletes and coaches to familiarise themselves with national training procedures that may be carried back into and improve regional programs.

A full list of Richmond invitees can be seen at the end of this post.

An eight person TC squad will travel to Norway (October 14-16) and then with just a day's turnaround, compete at the Kinross event in Scotland (October 18-20). Albertans Jack Smart and Anne Hibberd will join the squad for those two events. In Norway the team lineups will be flexible, but the world champion team is expected to play together in Scotland.

Canada will also field two teams at the Richmond International (November 2-5) though personnel may change.

A further but smaller development camp is planned for later in the season.

Expected to attend the Richmond camp

National Team coaches Laura Farres, Joe Rea, Wendy Morgan, Gerry Peckham

National squad members Jim Armstrong, Darryl Neighbour, Ina Forrest, Sonja Gaudet, Bruno Yizek, Chris Sobkowicz

National Champions Manitoba coach Rob Lamb, with Dennis Thiessen, George Horning, Don Kalinsky, Melissa Lecuyer

BC coach Karen Watson with Frank Labounty and Alison Duddy

Alberta coach Andy Jones with Jack Smart and Anne Hibberd

Saskatchewan coach Lorraine Arguin with Darwin Bender and Gil Dash

N. Ontario coach Dave Kawahara with Carl Levesque

Ontario coach Carl Rennick with Collinda Joseph, Chris Rees, Mike Munro and Mark Ideson

Quebec coaches Germaine Tremblay/Alan Smith with Benoit Lessard
and Carl Marquis

Atlantic region coach LeslieAnn Walsh with Joanne McDonald, Darlene Jackman and Trendal Hubley- Bolivar

Highland Wheelchair Curling begins in Inverness Sept. 27  8/29/2011

The Highland WCC would like to encourage wheelchair users and all those with mobility problems, to join them on Tuesdays  from 1.30 to 3.30pm during the curling season at the Inverness Ice Centre. Sessions begin September 27 and you don't need to stay the full two hours.

Mo Simpson says: Wheelchair Curling is an enjoyable and social sport from grassroots to elite level. It is also one of a number of sports which can be played on an equal basis, alongside and with, non-disabled people. The club will provide trained coaches and any equipment needed; just wear layers of clothing, gloves and a hat if required. Should I not be available when you come, please ask for Morven Marwick, Curling Development Officer, or Ron Wynton, Wheelchair Coach.

For further information on wheelchair curling or to book a Come and Try place please contact Mo Simpson at wheels77uk@yahoo.co.uk or tel: 01463 716227 or 07798 710404.

The Callie Commitment 8/29/2011

As part of its commitment to bring new participants into the club, Regina's Callie CC is continuing its wheelchair curling program. If you use a wheelchair or know someone who does, join the fun. Contact Bob Capp at (306) 789-0367 or contact the Callie.

Entry deadline for 4th Annual Wetzikon (Zurich) Open is Sept. 30 8/27/2011

The 4th Annual Wetzikon tournament will take place October 22-23 at the Wetzikon Curling Centre, near Zurich SUI.

Competition details, including fees, accommodation and map can be found HERE along with an entry form to be completed by September 30.

Norwegian Open October 14-16. Registration deadline August 19 8/11/2011

This year's Norway Open will be held at the Halden Curling centre from October 14-16. The registration deadline for this event is Friday August 19 and full details including cost, transportation and accommodation can be found HERE. Email Anne Grethe Bremnes for more information.

Nova Scotia loses a skip. New Brunswick gains a mentor  8/8/2011

Nova Scotia skip Mike Fitzgerald, who shares with Colleen Jones a record of four consecutive provincial titles, is retiring from his job and moving to New Brunswick where he and his wife Anna spent their childhood.

“I depart with mixed feelings," said Mike. "Loss in leaving a team that had success from a great work ethic and good coaching. Then there is the excitement of retiring and moving home knowing I have plenty of time to help the New Brunswick program develop.

“I have learned a great deal about wheelchair curling. In the beginning there was little instruction. Now I can use all that knowledge about skill development and team dynamics to assist others who are just beginning.”

Friend and teammate Laughie Rutt said, “It's sad to see him move on but it is something Mike had planned for years. Mike took us very close to the big prize. He remains one of the premier curlers in Canada.”

Fitzgerald was known in Lakeshore Curling Club as the ultimate competitor. He could be found at the club at least six times a week either practising or playing. He also worked with new curlers to improve their skills. Quiet and reserved off the ice, you would never find him talking of his accomplishments.

Good luck, Michael.  We'll be looking forward to New Brunswick challenging at future Nationals.

Deadline fast approaching for 5th Annual Kinross International 8/8/2011

One of Scotland's most successful independently organised wheelchair spiels is the Kinross International, held this year between October 18-20th.

The Scottish national programme will be fielding two strong sides looking to impress the home fans and Canada, Russia, Norway and Switzerland have expressed interest in attending.

Application deadline is September 3. Contact Ena Stevenson for more information.

News from team Canada 8/8/2011

There is very little news from Team Canada other than "Team Canada has been meeting and practicing on a regular basis."

There had been hopes to organise an Albertan summer camp for individuals who caught the attention of national coaches during last season's tour. This did not materialise because of unspecified "challenges" but it is hoped that a camp (details have not yet been circulated) can take place at the end of September in Richmond BC.

I am told invitees will be those who displayed the most promise based on (the) various camps from last season or as a result of observed performances and success at the Canadian Championships.

Jim Armstrong update: Jim's son Greg has been moved to a federal prison in Mississippi. Jim tells me there "are some interesting scenario's developing" but his son's present situation prevents him from making good on his promise to tell his side of the story in public. It is a story that the CCA have apparently heard and accepted for Jim to remain on the programme.

More from the Cape Cod Summerspiel  8/8/2011

Quesnel resident Alison Duddy features prominently in a report by Percy Hebert of the Quesnel Cariboo Observer. She talks about her team's performance at last month's Cape Cod Summerspiel where her provincial team placed second in a field that included teams from Scotland Russia and USA.

The report, which includes game situations, strategy, tips and lots of credit where it was due, is the kind of reporting that we need to encourage if wheelchair users unfamiliar with the sport are to be enticed to try it.

Alison has featured several times here, never with a view to self-promotion, and sets an example that other curlers and coaches in general and Team Canada personnel in particular might consider emulating as part of a low cost, high benefit campaign to publicise the sport.

Invitation to compete at Lausanne International December 3-4 8/8/2011

An invitation to compete at the 5th Annual Lausanne International at the Lausanne Olympique CC can be found HERE. The field will be limited to 12 teams and the attached registration form should be returned by September 30.

Open call to try out for Team USA  8/8/2011

The US Curling Association has issued an open call for athletes interested in representing their country at the 2012 World Championships in South Korea.

The trial will be held in Wisconsin at the Madison CC from October 20 to 23rd. The top eight candidates, chosen on both on and off ice criteria, will be required to compete in the USA Open in Utica NY and the Cathy Kerr Bonspiel in Ottawa. Expenses will be covered for those events.

From that group, five athletes will be chosen for the mixed gender team that will compete at the Worlds.

With two retirements from the US national team already announced, there is an excellent opportunity for ambitious wheelchair users prepared to put in the practice to make the team.

Full details of the camp including registration and costs are available HERE.

$50K grants available from Canada's Enabling Accessibility Fund 8/6/2011

The Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) supports community-based projects across Canada that improve accessibility, remove barriers, and enable Canadians with disability to participate in and contribute to their communities. Grants up to $50,000 per project are available to improve the “built environment.”

If your curling club is looking to enhance its accessibility by:
• Constructing an interior or exterior ramp
• Installing wider doors or automated door openers
• Building an accessible washroom
• Installing an elevator or lift
• Enhancing interactive speech capability on a public-access computer

Visit HERE for more information on how to access funds but act quickly, the deadline for proposals is September 23, 2011.

BC residents can contact Penny Bartel for assistance in putting together a proposal.

6th Annual USA Open Utica NY November 11-13  8/6/2011

Marc DePerno, team leader for the USA national team, has issued invitations to compete at the 6th Annual USA Open International taking place at the Utica CC November 11-13th, 2011.

Full details, including special rates on accommodation and transportation, are available HERE. Registration deadline is October 10th.

The field will be limited to 10 teams. More info from Marc DePerno.

Russia beats Cormack's BC team to win Cape Cod Summerspiel  7/21/2011

Russia beat BC's Team Cormack 8-6 in the final of the 2nd Annual Cape Cod Summerspiel in Falmouth, MA topping a field that included the Scots "A" squad's first appearance under new Canadian coach Tony Zummack, as well as Team Quebec, and players in the USA national squad.

Vince Miele, BC's 2nd, said: "It was a close game [and] we're pretty proud that our team with our teammates spread out around the province having little time to practice together, and no coach, can hold our own against provincial teams like Quebec and national teams like Scotland and Russia.

"And what fun we're having!"

Russia, still relative newcomers to international wheelchair curling, continued the form that took them to their first semi-final appearance at the 2011 Worlds. With three seasons still to go before they host the 2014 Paralympics, they will be serious medal contenders in Sochi.

Miele reports the 3-4 game between Quebec and Scotland was won by Quebec 9-3 and the USA - USA/Canada game was won by USA by a score of 10-2.

"Our hosts and all the volunteers at this small club of about 250 have been fantastic, providing everything we needed, from transportation, to meals and even a bit of a tour. Overall, an experience we're glad we didn't miss and would be happy to come back to next year,' said Miele.

The Quesnel Cariboo Observer published a report prior to the 1 vs 2 game. It can be read HERE.

Worlds Qualifying Tournament deadline approaching 7/19/2011

August 15th is the registration deadline for wheelchair curling teams representing a WCF Member Association wishing to compete at the World Wheelchair Qualifying Competition in Lohja Finland between 5 and 12 November 2011.

The top two qualifiers will join the top eight finishers at the 2011 Worlds: Canada, China, Korea (host), Norway, Russia, Scotland, Sweden and USA, at the World Championships in Chuncheon City, South Korea, 18-25 February 2012.

Germany and the Czech Republic are the two teams who competed at the 2011 Worlds in Prague but will have to travel to Finland to attempt to rejoin the chase for 2014 Paralympics qualifying points.

Invitation to 5th Annual Danish Open, Taarnby September 9 to 11 7/12/2011

Per Christensen, the Danish national wheelchair curling coach, has issued an invitation to compete at the 5th Annual Open International taking place at the Taarnby CC.

Eight teams have already accepted, including the full 8 person Scottish squad, and teams from Finland, Norway, Germany, the Czech Republic and Denmark.

Full details, including special rates on accommodation are available HERE or you can contact Per directly by email.

Tony Zummack talks about developments in Scotland  7/8/2011

Great Britain coach Tony Zummack took advantage of six weeks of summer ice to hold intensive training sessions for British curlers interested in competing for an eventual place on the 2014 Sochi Paralympics squad.

"We had a series of all day Wednesday sessions in May and June where we had the opportunity to look at a lot of athletes, including some who came up from England," he told me today. "This year's emphasis will be on technical development; helping the 8 players selected for the training squad develop their mechanics, throw more accurately. I don't see why wheelchair curlers can't hit the broom as consistently as the best able-bodied curlers.

"We have divided the group into two squads: an A squad skipped by Aileen Neilson with Tom Killin, Gregor Ewan and Angie Malone; with Michael McCreadie skipping the B squad, Jim Gault, Ian Donaldson and Gill Keith who have less international experience. Each team will have different development goals with the aim of producing a very competitive team in time for the 2012 Worlds.

That's not to say that others will not emerge before Sochi in 2014, or that all of the present 8 will stay the course, and Zummack promises to keep an open mind on future prospects.

"What I believe," he said, "is that we are on the cusp of a significant advance in shot execution and overall standard of play. While it is true that wheelchair curling without sweeping can never be as accurate as high performance regular curling, efficiencies in delivery combined with increased understanding of what is and is not possible to throw accurately, and what shots are likely to bring the biggest likelihood of success, should raise stats into the 70s."

He may be right, and the adoption of the off-side brace long advocated here, and other delivery refinements will help. I would, however, be more persuaded if I had not heard similar claims from both Canadian and European coaches for at least the past four years.

Zummack is taking one team to Cape Cod (Jim Gault replacing Michael McKenzie from the Prague team). There will be a high performance camp from August 26 through September 4 and then several European spiels before the Scottish team is chosen for the 2012 Worlds.

Invitation to the 5th Annual Rolli Trophy cashspiel in Berne SUI  7/7/2011

This year's Rolli Trophy cashspiel will be held in Berne, Switzerland from Friday November 11 to November 13, 2011.

The field will be limited to 8 teams. Entry fees are 300 Swiss francs for a guaranteed six 6-end games with 7,000 francs of prize money to be won.

Closing date for entries is October 17. Read the flier (English version page 4) HERE or contact Nadia Roethlisberger for more information.

2nd Annual Cape Cod Summerspiel draws international field 6/22/2011

Teams from Russia, Scotland, Canada and the USA will be competing in the 2nd Annual Cape Cod Summerspiel July 17-20 in Falmouth, MA.

Russia is sending the team that just missed the podium when they finished 4th at the 2011 Worlds in Prague, though with a different coach, Alexandra Ryzhkova.

Tony Zummack, Great Britain's new Head Coach of Wheelchair Curling with his first competitive team selection, is bringing four of the five Prague silver medalists, Jim Gault replacing Michael McKenzie.

Canada will be represented by Team Lessard, Quebec provincial champions looking to rebound from a disappointing 2011 Nationals, and by British Columbia's Team Cormack.

USA national coach Steve Brown will be guiding both a new-look Team USA with Patrick McDonald at skip, and a mixed USA/Canada team featuring the return to action of Bob Prenoveau at skip.

Full details of the event, draws and teams can be found HERE.

N. Ontario's Chester Draper wins the Manitoba Marathon 6/20/2011

Chester Draper, who plays 2nd on Wayne Ficek's No. Ontario provincial championship team won the Manitoba men’s full wheelchair marathon with a time of 1:57:26 beating that benchmark 2 hour time that marks a great performance.

Congratulations to Chester, who is 71 and lives in Dryden, ON. And no, he didn't use a souped-up power wheelchair.

Video coverage from the 2011 Canadian Nationals in Edmonton   6/18/2011

AccessibleMedia were filming at the 2011 Canadian Nationals in Edmonton. Coverage included comments from Cathy Craig, Joe Rea and Bruno Yizek.

"Come and Try" Wheelchair Curling in Melbourne, Australia  6/18/2011

Wheelchair users in the vicinity of Melbourne, Australia are invited to a "come and try" session June 27 at 7pm and 8pm and onwards at the Icehouse.

Members of the Southern Cross Rollers, Australia's first wheelchair curling team, are competing at the Australian Championships this September. Read what they have to say about their sport and get more information about the event HERE.

Additions to the events calendar  6/18/2011

There have been some additions to the international events calendar page.

Invitations have been sent out for teams to compete in the Norwegian Open at the Halden Curling Center from October 14-16, 2011. Details can be downloaded from HERE.

Also the 5th Annual Richmond Center for Disability International Spiel will be held November 2-5, 2011 at the Richmond (BC) Curling Club. You can download details HERE.

USA searching for next year's team  6/5/2011

USA are searching for the combination of players who will bring them back into contention after a disappointing 2011 World Championship brought to an end a very promising run of competitive results that had suggested medal success was close.

With two members of last year's team already announcing their retirement there was plenty of incentive for aspiring curlers to learn about the sport and perhaps impress Steve Brown, the National Team Coach, during four days of on and off ice instruction this weekend at the Green Bay CC.

Reporter Beth Jones of Fox station WLUK-TV was on hand to speak to some of the participants.

US Trials in Green Bay WI June 2-5   5/26/2011

A National Wheelchair Curling Camp is being held at the Green Bay (WI) Curling Club from June 2-5 with the goal of increasing the athlete pool and improving medal prospects at future World Championships and Paralympic Winter Games.

The camp schedule is as follows: Thursday, June 2: Noon - 6 PM Friday, June 3: 9 AM – 5 PM Saturday, June 4: 9 AM – 8 PM Sunday, June 5: 9 AM – Noon

One of the athletes attending will be Tim Kelly, a resident of Rockford IL who has been travelling to Green Bay to learn from National Coach Steve Brown, and also play on an able-bodied league team. Tom was recently profiled in the Rockford Register Star. [read]

Michael McCreadie back in Scotland's plans for 2014 5/16/2011

When Michael McCreadie stepped down as British and Scottish skip after the team's disappointing run of performances up to and including the Vancouver Paralympics, he said he hoped to rejoin the program at a later date.

McCreadie continued to compete with some success on domestic teams skipped by partner Aileen Neilson, and the promise of significant changes to the national team's approach to the game under new National Coach Tony Zummack, prompted him to apply to the 2011-2012 Wheelchair Performance Program.

The eight athletes selected are Aileen Neilson, Tom Killin, Angie Malone and Gregor Ewan from the 2011 Worlds silver medal team, Michael McCreadie, and newcomers Jim Gault, Ian Donaldson and Gill Keith.

2011 World's silver medallist Michael McKenzie missed out but will have an opportunity, along with the other unsuccessful applicants, to be considered for the Scottish Wheelchair Curling Association's 'Spokes' Development Program.

The talent identification and development effort promises to be an on-going process, providing incentives not only to current members to develop their skills, but to those who may yet challenge for a place on the Sochi Paralympics team in 2014.

Debbie Earle nominated Nova Scotia Female Curler of the Year 5/16/2011

Debbie Earle, lead on Team Nova Scotia, was nominated for Female Athlete of the Year at the Annual Awards banquet of the Nova Scotia Curling Association.

Debbie was voted All Star lead at the 2011 TSX National Wheelchair Curling Championships in Edmonton where she helped her team to a bronze medal, her Province's first podium appearance.

Debbie, who like Team Canada 2nd Ina Forrest was recruited while shopping, has just completed her second year of curling and gives most of the credit to her team mates who worked with her to develop her skills and commitment to the game. She balances work, curling, and raising a teenage daughter.

CurlBC names Gary Cormack disabled athlete of the year 5/12/2011

Gary Cormack, curling out of the Marpole CC has won CurlBC's annual award for "Athlete With A Disability." He skipped Team BC to a 4th place finish at the 2011 National Championships in Edmonton, and will be recognised at the AGM on June 11th.

Team Canada to get their banner  5/10/2011

Team Canada will receive their World Championship banner during a presentation at the CurlBC AGM at the Richmond CC, Saturday June 11.

Canada's national team coach Joe Rea will be on hand to give brief remarks and answer questions at 11.45am.

Four of the five members of the team plus the coach live in BC.

A full schedule of the day's events, which will also be available online via webcast, can be found HERE.

Open call for June Wisconsin Team USA camp   4/23/2011

Team USA manager Marc DePerno has issued an open invitation to any American wheelchair user who has the interest and desire to explore wheelchair curling, to attend a summer training camp in Wisconsin June 2-5.

The camp will be held at the Green Bay Curling Club, and will be directed by Team USA coaching staff. Wheelchair users may attend for one or more days, with the program building each day on what has previously been covered.

With two members of the 2011 team retiring, there are opportunities for athletes with the desire to represent their country at a Paralympic sport, to discover what wheelchair curling is all about.

Registration deadline is May 23. You can view the information sheet HERE or email Marc DePerno or call him at 315-737-2459 for more information

Nationals more than just the curling - BC's Alison Duddy 4/22/2011

BC's lead Alison Duddy, while expressing disappointment at her team's 4th place finish, mentions an important fact: competing at a national championship is about more than just the curling. You can read the interview she gave the Quesnel Cariboo Observer HERE.

Armstrong's fake Viagra drama ends without restitution  4/14/2011

At a hearing before US Fedral Judge Ricardo Martinez in Seattle WA Tuesday, Jim Armstrong and his son Gregory were not ordered to pay the $44,000 restitution requested by the manufacturers of Viagra and Ciallis pills, fake versions of which formed the basis of the Armstrong's convictions last February.

Defense lawyers argued that restitution was not appropriate as the fake pills had been seized from Jim Armstrong before they could be smuggled into Canada and sold by Gregory in Vancouver nightclubs.

Jim has said in interviews that he has a full explanation for his actions, but has not yet felt able to present it, in part out of concern for the welfare of his son, who is in an American prison serving a 12 month sentence.

Upcoming events  4/13/2011

The competition calendar is becoming increasingly congested especially in October and November, and event organisers are beginning to make an effort to coordinate schedules to encourage travelling teams to attend more than one event.

Several events last year were over-subscribed which is a great tribute to the organising committees, but a warning that wheelchair curlers must start to make plans further in advance.

There is a list of competition dates on the calendar page which will be updated as information becomes available. Looking at last season is often a good indication of what may take place next season.

Today the Norwegian Open and the Kinross spiel were added to October dates.

If you know of an event that is not listed, please email me with the details.

Varsity curler turned wheelchair coach Thomas Matheson profiled 4/7/2011

Thomas Matheson, a varsity curler with the Laurentian Voyageurs, was asked by TC coach Wendy Morgan to work with Sudbury's rookie wheelchair curling team, an effort that earned them second place in the Northern Ontario provincials.

Thomas, in a report by the Laurentian University's Department of Athletics, talks about being given the opportunity to coach, the progress of his team and sharing that feeling of deflation at coming up short in the provincial final.

Neilson skips her Breahead rink to season finale Tunnock Trophy 4/7/2011

The 3rd Annual Tunnock Trophy sponsored by cookie maker Tunnock's of Uddingston, was hosted by the South Lanarkshire WCC at the Lanarkshire Ice Rink in Hamilton last week. A full complement of twelve teams including one from England meant that applications were turned down from teams from Germany and Denmark. Aileen Neilson's Braehead rink, last month's Scottish Champions, took the Trophy with Jim Sellar's local rink finishing second.

You can read a report of the event HERE and watch video of the inaugural (2009) event HERE

GB's Head Coach for Wheelchair Curling on his way April 16th  4/7/2011

Alberta's Tony Zummack has finally received all the paperwork necessary for him to take up residence in Scotland as Great Britains Head Coach - Wheelchair Curling.

He will be leaving on April 16th and staying in the Stirling area. His wife will join him in July and his daughter hopes to be accepted into Stirling University.

A lengthy delay in processing the paperwork for his change of residence meant that he was unable to take over the Scottish team in time for the 2011 World Championships in Prague. He was able to meet many of the players at the recent Scottish Championships, won by Aileen Neilson's rink, present skip of the National Team.

Curlers interested in being considered for the British national team training program have been asked to submit applications, and the next 8 member national squad, which presently includes the five who won silver in Prague, plus Rosemary Lenton, Jim Gault and Jim Sellars, will be selected from those applicants based in part on performances at the regular on-ice training sessions Zummack intends to hold at least once a week in Stirling and at other venues if available.

Zummack will be Team Scotland's coach for the Worlds, and Team Great Britain's coach for the Paralympics in Sochi in 2014. Though only Scots have made the British team, Zummack says he will ensure that all Britain's wheelchair curlers have access to an opportunity to demonstrate their ability.

"Giving as many wheelchair curlers as possible the opportunity to learn and improve will create long term growth in the entire program," he told me.

Aussies rolling over able-bodied opposition 4/4/2011

Jim Oastler reports that his Melbourne based Southern Cross Rollers were the first Australian wheelchair curling team to enter a state curling competition.

They competed in the Victorian Curling Association summer league, finishing 4th out of 12 teams; a great result over able-bodied opposition that they hope to build on as they approach their winter league play leading up to the 2011 Australian Nationals.

If the team continues its current progress they hope to be able to compete in the World Wheelchair Qualification round in 2012. The team relies on and thanks the Victorian Curling Association, Disabled Wintersports Australia, and Disabled Sport and Recreation for their on going support.

Northern Californians gain more ice time  4/2/2011

Skatetown in Roseville, just up the freeway from Sacramento California, is offering ice for curlers starting Monday April 4. There will be four weekly clinics in April followed by curling drop-in nights on Mondays from May through July, run in conjunction with Wine Country Curling of Vacaville.

This is the venue used for sled hockey so wheelchair access should be good. Read the story by Kayla Nix of the Roseville Press Tribune.

Cost: $20 per person
Registration: Online at www.skatetown.biz or in person.
Information: Susan Sweetser at (916) 783-8550, ext. 115.

Thank you -  

I would like to express my thanks to Dan Janidlo, Johanne Poulin and Patrick McDonald who have all very generously shown their appreciation for the work involved in publishing this website by making a recent donation.

More changes for wheelchair curling in the USA  4/2/2011

Jim Pierce has also announced retirement from Team USA after the disappointments at the 2011 World Championships in Prague. telling his teammates he is giving up the sport.

Jim Pierce 2011

Jim was a founding member of the USA wheelchair curling team, playing in 66 games including five Worlds and two Paralympics, and finishing with a 2008 Worlds bronze medal and a 31-35 record.

Patrick McDonald, who missed almost all of last season with a shoulder injury, aims to step up and take more responsibility next season, assuming he regains competitive fitness.

"The shoulder is coming along ahead of schedule. I'm feeling really happy about having a complete shoulder replacement. From what the doctor's told me after my MRI it was most likely broken in Vancouver at the Paralympics," he told me.
"I'm moving my family to Madison, WI. so I can curl full time and work with the coaching staff. I will also be helping find new athlete's to make the sport grow here in the States."

Perhaps he will be able to infleunce the wheelchair users curling out of Duluth MN who have so far stubbornly resisted approaches from Team USA coaches because they want the WCF rules of play rewritten to allow them to deliver while their chairs are moving forward.

Learn to coach wheelchair curlers the WCF way   4/2/2011

The World Curling Federation has included a Learn to Coach Wheelchair Curling course on July 2nd in Füssen, Germany as part of its summer camp series.

The course will be led by Sheila Swan, who was in charge of Team Scotland when they won their silver medal at the 2011 Worlds in Prague.

Cost of the 4 hour course is 30 euros and will include coverage of the sports background, rules, safety, communication, assessment, equipment, delivery techniques, buddy-system, access to and exit from ice, movement on ice, warm-up routines, discussion, a DVD and a on-ice practical session.

More information can be found on the WCF website.

Let's curl again, like we did last summer  4/2/2011

The 2nd Annual Cape Cod Summerspiel will take place July 17 - 20 in East Falmouth MA. Last year six teams entered, including Team USA, Team Quebec and a team from Germany. This year Russia and Scotland have already signed up.

You can find information and entry forms HERE and teams are asked to enter by May 1st to allow the club time to guage demand for accommodation and transport.

USA lead Jaqui Kapinowski announces retirement 3/31/2011

Team USA lead Jaqui Kapinowski has announced her retirement from wheelchair curling.

In an email sent to friends and supporters she said that though it was a very difficult decision, she had decided it was time for her to return the support of her husband over the past 20 years of a sports career covering wheelchair athletics and curling, by making a permanent move to their home in Florida.

"Please know how much I truly care for each of you, everyone has been so supportive over these years. Marc (Deperno), I owe you so much for getting me involved in this sport. It has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I want to end by thanking the USCA for their sponsorship & most of all the friends I made..... I'm truly sorry, I love you guys so much!"

Jaqui joined Team USA in 2007 and earned a bronze medal as lead at the 2008 World Championships. A performance drop-off at the 2011 Worlds was in part due to her difficulty in finding practice ice time. She maintains an interest in wheelchair marathons and rowing.

Her retirement opens the door for Wisconsin's Penny Greely, who was Team USA's 5th player at the 2011 Worlds.

Scot Aileen Neilson scoops two more awards  3/31/2011

Scottish skip Aileen Neilson scooped up two more awards at the East Kilbride Sports Personality Awards ceremony last week. “This is a proud moment for me and my family and it was very special to have my partner Michael McCreadie, my mum Daisy and my sister Libby Marshall all there to see me collect the awards," she told the East Kilbride News.

Aileen won in the adult female category, then was declared overall winner.

You can read a full report HERE

2011 National Championship All-Stars 3/28/2011

There were no official stats taken at this year's Nationals, so each team was balloted for their choice of the best players at each position.

The winners were:

Mike Fitzgerald - Nova Scotia skip
Dennis Thiessen - Manitoba 3rd
Trendal Hubley-Bolivar - Nova Scotia 2nd
Debbie Earle - Nova Scotia lead

The Sportsmanship Award went to Frank LaBounty - BC with an honourable mention to Joanne MacDonald - Newfoundland-Labrador.

Photos HERE

McArthur Island CC in Kamloops to host 2012 BC Provincials 3/24/2011

The McArthur Island Curling Centre in Kamloops has been selected to host the 2012 BC Provincials next February 2-5. It is a 6 sheet club within reasonable reach of the Lower Mainland and the Okanagan where most of the province's players live.

BC switched from a selection process to a Provincial Championship in 2009 in Vernon that attracted four teams and the 2010 event in Kimberley saw three teams.

Canadian Nationals mid-way miscellany 3/24/2011

An innovation introduced at this year's Canadian Nationals are the coloured tubes placed at each end of the ice to hold equipment, delivery sticks and skips' brooms, not in use. This is a great idea and should be adopted at future events.

The ice has held up well, is keener than many teams will have played on at their home clubs with draws running around 14 seconds hog to hog. There's about 3 feet of swing. Manitoba skip Chris Sobkowicz reported that there was some frost on the edge of the outer sheet when he defeated BC in Draw 5.

“You had to believe what you saw and go with it!” he told Lisa Shamchuk, who is writing reports for the CCA's website.

Ontario rookie Alec Denys had led the "cover the pin" $1,000 challenge with a draw that finished 35.8cm from the pin before the start of Draw 2. He was deposed by Frank LaBounty, whose rock before Draw 5 ended just 34.7cm away. But they both bow to Chris Sobkowicz's 3.3cm at the start of Draw 6.

The $1,000 prize has been donated by R. Vallee Home Rentals and will be split if here is a tie. $200 goes to the runner-up.

Despite the relative unfamiliarity with time clocks, there have been few problems. The most frequent complaints are caused by the throwers not moving away after their throw. Until they cede the delivery position to the other side, their clock will continue to run.

The rules state time will continue to run for the delivering team until:

-all stones have stopped
-the moving stones have crossed the back line
- the skip of the delivering team has relinquished the house to their opposing skip
-players from the delivering team have moved to the side.

Players have to get used to not admiring the path of their shots and travel down the side of the sheet, thereby not obstructing their opponent's view, for their clocks to stop. "We're trying to get them to behave as regular curlers do in competition," Head Official Linda Kirton told me.

The teams are playing under the "old" timeout rules, where clocks stop at a called time out, and restart when the coach has had 60 seconds to talk to the team. (Current rules do not stop the clock at coach 'interventions.')

This was a factor in the Draw 4 match between Alberta and BC, played with a lot of rocks in the house and needing an extra end to decide it. Umpires were at the ready to make quick decisions if necessary as both teams ran their clocks close, but were able to use time-outs to ease the pressure.

Ice Player Assistants (IPAs) have been volunteering from local High Schools (Bellerose High School, St Albert) and doing an excellent job that is greatly appreciated by the curlers, many of whom would not be throwing cleaned rocks without assistance. The students have also been volunteering as meal servers.

Cathy Craig has been juggling 3 hats - club manager, event manager and Host Team coach. Her team would be sitting top of the table had they not twice given up 4's in the 8th ends of games in which they had 7-3 leads, and lost in the extra. They are still on track to make good on her prediction that they would make the playoffs, an extremely impressive performance from a team who have not played against this opposition before.

It's probably no coincidence that local publicity brought out local government inspectors. The club's renovations, completed two years ago, have been inspected, and the fire marshal wanted in on the action to test fire alarms, but was persuaded to wait until the club did not have to test evacuate 50 plus wheelchairs.

In past events Day 4 is the test of stamina for the teams unused to playing twice a day for three consecutive days. With Draw 6 now under way, we'll see.

You'll find daily recaps of each Draw on our Blog and full statistical coverage in our Nationals section.

Aileen Neilson captures Scottish title 3/21/2011

Aileen Neilson completed a very successful season with a win over her national teammate Gregor Ewan in Sunday's final of the Scottish Wheelchair Curling Championship in Aberdeen. It was sweet revenge for Nielson, who lost 6-5 to Ewan in the British Open final last November.

The current Scottish national side was divided between the two finalists, with Aileen joined by Tom Killin, plus Michael McCreadie and Ian Donaldson. Gregor Ewan played with national teammate Mike McKenzie, plus Jackie Cayton and Jim Gault.

It was a cagey game, with three blanks before Ewan put the first point on the board just before the break. Whatever was in Team Nielson's water bottles, it worked as they returned to score 4 in the 5th then stole 3 more in the 6th on their way to a 7-3 win.

You can find semi-final and final line scores HERE.

The 8th Canadian Nationals ready to roll  3/21/2011

Edmonton's Jasper Curling Club is ready to showcase the 8th Canadian National Wheelchair Curling Championships. The ice is reported to be fast, about 13 1/2 seconds hog to hog for a t-line draw and with between 3 and four feet of curl.

The rings and lines are true, something that was brought to public attention when BC's Kelly Scott was caught out by an imperfect circle at this year's Scotties.

Games will be 68 minutes, metered using time clocks, with each team allowed two 60 second time-outs, the clock to stop until the coach reaches their team. In an extra end, each team would be allowed one time out.

All teams are mixed gender, rocks are thrown from stationary wheelchairs and placed within 18 inches either side of the centre line at delivery.

Hammer will be decided by a single throw to the button at the end of each team's pre-game practice. This year there's an extra incentive for the thrower, a $1,000 prize to cover the pin. Teams can choose who they want to throw that draw, but every team member must, over the course of the nine round robin games, throw at least once.

The club will be using five sheets so there will be no byes. Each team gets to rotate across each sheet during pre-championship practice with NL, MB, NO, SK and HOST taking first practice and AB, BC, QC, NL and ON taking second.

After the 2011 Worlds, Team Canada skip Jim Armstrong felt that some teams had progressed to the point that matching rocks made sense. I don't know whether any of the coaches in Edmonton have spent time doing that. You can read an excellent article on curling rocks and how they differ and why that matters HERE.

"We should make it to the playoffs" - Host Team coach Cathy Craig 3/19/2011

Cathy Craig is manager of the Jasper Place CC in Edmonton and the event manager for the Canadian Nationals that begin there on Monday. She is also coaching the Edmonton Host Team, skipped by Cliff Nuspl.

This is Craig's first year coaching a wheelchair team but she sounded confident of their prospects, telling the Edmonton Journal: "We should make it to the playoffs. They're solid. They just have trouble in big games."

The Host team open with games against Ontario and BC and finish against the Calgarian provincial champions.

"Whenever there's a national championship, no matter the sport or the level of play, a national championship is a national championship," Craig told the Edmonton Examiner. "You're representing your province, you're trying to win for the country."

The championship will feature the "Tire Patch", offering live entertainment in the club's lounge on Friday and Saturday night.

The Edmonton Journal reported that Jasper Place agreed to stage this year's Nationals after Brandon MB backed out. It is a huge undertaking, and a good sense of what is involved can be gleaned from this blog entry by Lisa Shamchuck who will be compiling scores and making entries on the CCA's website as well as tweeting on each day's events.

BC's Alison Duddy in the news 3/19/2011

Quesnel resident Alison Duddy tells the Quesnel Cariboo Observer that she's "looking for redemption" after winning a provincial title last year, but losing the national final to a BC Host Team.

This year she and teammate/coach Frank LaBounty join defending champions Gary Cormack and Vince Miele in a joint challenge for gold. “It’s kind of like if you can’t beat them, join them,” Duddytold reporter Percy Herbert.

Her team defeated Jim Armstrong in the BC Provincials to earn their ticket to Edmonton, though she gives full credit to LaBounty for his coaching skill, and to her sponsors for making it possible for her to travel to the Kimberley Provincials.

Read the full profile HERE

BC's Team Canada members get their own day - March 20, 2011 3/19/2011

BC's Deputy Premier Kevin Falcon has announced that Sunday March 20 be proclaimed “Ina Forrest, Jim Armstrong, Sonja Gaudet and Darryl Neighbour Day” to celebrate Canada’s Wheelchair curling team as part of a program to recognize British Columbia’s medal-winning athletes from the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

No mention of making omitted Calgarian teammate Bruno Yizek an honarary British Columbian for the purposes of the proclamation.

Team Ontario in the news  3/19/2011

Dale Clifford of the Peterborough Examiner interviewed Team Ontario members veteran Carl Bax and rookie Alec Denys, who has been persuaded to add wheelchair curling to his athletic interests alongside his Paralympic level skills in archery.

"Carl tried to get me interested in curling and eventually talked me into it," said Denys with a smile. "Curling isn't like other sports. It's more individual in archery while you are part of a team in curling. It's unique and I enjoy it. But like all sports, a big thing is the mental aspect and you have to stay focused. You can't allow any distractions."

A (non-Canadian) national coach told me recently that his recruitment would focus on athletes with established reputations in other sports. I suspect Denys represents the direction wheelchair curling at the high performance level is headed.

Coaches are looking for recruits who have demonstrated the ability to perform at an elite level, feeling that while technique in wheelchair curling is relatively easy to master, the mental toughness, desire, the willingness to sacrifice and dedicate yourself to a specific ahievement goal that marks the elite athlete, is less easy to find.

Read the full article HERE

Scottish Wheelchair Curling Championships this weekend  3/19/2011

Eleven teams are competing at the Scottish Wheelchair Curling Championships this weekend in Aberdeen, and new British National Team Coach Tony Zummack is in Scotland watching the action. He is on a scouting visit and also looking at accommodation for a more permanent move which he hopes will be in May.

The teams played their round robin games from two groups, with the top two teams in each group playing in Sunday's semi-final/final.

After round robin play, Aileen Neilson with World silver medallist teammate Tom Killin, along with Michael McCreadie and Ian Donaldson will face a team skipped by Allan Spence.

Aileen's Prague teammates Gregor Ewan and Michael MacKenzie, with Jim Gault and Jackie Cayton, will face Jim Sellar's team in the other semi-final.

You can see results HERE and also view a large selection of photos from the event on Bob Cowan's Skip Cottage blog.

$1,000 to cover the pin in draw to the button at Nationals 3/19/2011

At the Canadian Nationals which begin Monday in Edmonton, hammer for each round robin game will be decided by a draw to the button during the practice ice-time.

R. Vallee Home Rentals has donated $1,000 for the throw that ends closest to the button. If two or more throws cover the pin, the prize will be shared. The second place throw will win $200.

Canadian Nationals begin in Edmonton March 21  3/16/2011

The 8th Canadian National Wheelchair Curling Championships are due to begin at the Jasper Place CC in Edmonton Alberta on Monday March 21, running through Sunday March 27.

I have begun to receive emails asking whether the website and blog will be covering the event. As of today neither the CCA nor the organisers have contacted me about establishing a permanent record of the daily events as I have been doing since 2006.

National Championships involving 50 plus wheelchairs are expensive and a hassle to organise and I am sure that everyone involved is working hard to make the event itself a success. There is a Championship section on the CCA's website where you can download the draw schedule, and I am told they will also record the scores.

As for coverage here, I will do what I can with whatever information I can gather. You can help.

If you are on a participating team, please send me a team photo, preferably with your coach and in your provincial jackets, and give me the names and positions of the people in the photo. If you don't yet have a photo, at least send me the names and positions of the people on the team. If you can supply a sentence or two of biographical information, so much the better.

If you know someone who is competing, ask them if their team has sent me information.

If you are attending the event. email me any reports and impressions or anything you think may be of interest to a generally well-informed blog and website audience.

If you take photos of the event that you can share, upload them to dropulous.com and email me the link so I can access them. That is a better method than attaching them to an email. Please add names to photos.

The website has a fairly detailed archive of major wheelchair curling events going back to 2006, and with your help the Edmonton Championship can be added to it.

Any sport deserves a permanent record, something that has not always been considered a priority by those organizing it. It is not my record, it is your record. Until someone else steps up, I'll continue to do what I can, with your help.

Japan's National Championships cancelled  3/11/2011

Update - Saturday 11 am

I am now told Japan's National Wheelchair Curling Championships have been cancelled because of the devastation caused by this week's earthquake.

Original post: Japan's National Wheelchair Curling Championships had been scheduled for next weekend in Ninohe, Iwate - one of the areas most devastated by yesterday's earthquake.

Yayoi Mashimo, a friend who lives in Tokyo and had intended to travel north with a photographer to watch the championship, tells me that she is sure the event will have to be re-scheduled if not cancelled. She has been in contact with the Japanese Wheelchair Curling Association and they are trying to gather information. Apparently the damage is so severe in the north that it is hard to gauge what is happening.

Our best wishes go out to Yoji Nakajima, Takashi Hidai, Katsuo Ichikawa, Ayako Saitoh and coach Katsuji Uchibori who played in Vancouver a year ago, and Kazuyuki Mochiki, Aki Ogawa and Teruo Moriizumi who competed in the 2010 Qualifying Tournament in Finland last November. We hope they are safe and able to regroup in time for next season's Worlds Qulifying.

Canada's sledge hockey team began an international invitational tournament yesterday in Nagano, a central mountain area, but play was halted. It may resume on Sunday.

Sudbury's Team Daniel dress for success 3/7/2011

Sudbury skip Steve Daniel tells Laura Young of the Sudbury Star: "It's a belief of mine that in order to play well, you've got to feel like you're a professional ... some of the teams look at our uniforms and say, 'You guys look like you've been doing this for awhile, (like) professional curlers.' "

It seemed to work at the N. Ontario Provincials at the Fort William CC, as the team overcame a late arrival, fire alarms the night before, and two early defeats, to challenge champions Team Ficek in the final.

Daniel, a Beijing Paralympian, and his team all play for Sudbury Rolling Thunder, the local wheelchair basketball team. Sarah Lashbrook was the only female basketball player with the Rolling Thunder.

"We begged and pleaded with her to come out (and she) got us through Saturday. She was probably (my) tournament MVP," Daniel said.

The Sudbury CC has been very supportive, Daniel told Young. "They've really opened their arms to wheelchair curling. They make sure that every time we go there the club is accessible.

"We're very, very thankful for the support. We want to continue to build (wheelchair) curling. Just because we have a competitive team doesn't mean that's the end all and be all of curling. I'd like to see it grow (over the next few years) to a league so that we can have several teams that play for fun on weekend."

For Daniel, all the support, especially from Norm Gervais, owner of MEDIchair Sudbury and the team's major sponsor, meant they could compete. "We had to have all those elements in place in order to be successful. I think everyone is excited to see how we progress in the next few years."

You can read the complete article HERE.

Team Canada talks about Prague  3/5/2011

For Sonja Gaudet the 2011 World Championships in Prague were her sixth consecutive year on a world stage and her fourth gold medal.

"Obviously we couldn't be happier about the result," Canada's lead told me. "Everything was very well organised, and the Prague (Curling Hall Roztyly) curling rink is a very accessible and friendly place. The ice conditions and the rocks were great - as was the accomodation, food and transportation. So with all these details taken care of and once the jet lag was managed, we only needed to concentrate on our performance and that makes all the difference in the world."

Darryl Neighbour agreed with Sonja that the facility in Prague was excellent. "They put up a heated tent to accommodate all the wheelchairs at mealtimes," he said, "and though the temperatures dropped to below freezing outside, it didn't snow. The hotel was just a few minutes away and there was no messing about. We had our own van, five wheelchairs inside and it was hold onto each other and we're off."

Team 5th Bruno Yizek had more of a spectator's view of the facility and was also impressed.

"I spent the majority of the time watching the games," he said, "and the facility had great viewing from the upstairs lounge. Also each sheet had a big flat screen to see the houses. Both houses could be seen by a push of a button. At the end of the day's matches I had the opportunity to go on the ice and practice for 15 minutes. This gave me a feel for the ice and rock conditions, so I would not go into a game cold when called to play. The ice was super and (everything) was very well organised."

Darryl acknowledged that Canada's first game against China was a wake-up call. "We were lucky to steal that win, and I think it woke us all up."

Jim Armstrong agreed. "Our toughest game was China, for two reasons: first game with the rocks and ice, and secondly, we got down 3 early, and they can hit with big weight."

But the difference for Canada was the play of Sonja and front end teammate Ina Forrest, according to Armstrong. "They were just simply better than any other front end last week, and not by just a little bit In my opinion they both had a series that truly has reset the bar in our sport for front ends."

Both Jim and Darryl Neighbour mentioned how much easier it was to play their positions when the ends were being set up so well for them. "We took advantage of the teams whose front end players were not as strong," said Darryl, who though 62 is still looking to be defending his Paralympics title in Sochi, Russia in 2014.

"It is a big commitment," he told me, "and the travel can be tiring. But I am in the fortunate position of being able to dedicate the time, and I still love the game and love playing."

What was the surprise of the week? "The play of Scotland," said Armstrong. "Aileen (Nielson) looked considerably more comfortable skipping this year."

Neighbour agreed. "Scotland's my pick for strongest challenger next year," he said, wondering whether they would go the whole way and throw both takeouts and draws from the hogline." (My bet is they will, Darryl.)

Darryl also felt that China, Korea and Russia were teams to watch, especially as they gain the experience needed to call a competitive game. "Some teams hit every Canada rock they could see, regardless of the game situation or the scoreline," he said. "We have such an advantage with Jim's experience calling games."

Jim saw Prague as more of a re-build year for many teams. "Our big advantage was experience throughout our team, and particularly compared to some of the teams on "rebuild." Darryl had a great week as well (as Sonja and Ina). Where it showed to me, was that I was never left with a "circus shot" for a save. When the entire team is playing well, there is no need to gamble, and the game simplifies itself. Then the trick is to keep it simple."

(But that's also how I remember the play during the 2009 Worlds.)

"All the major players (Norway, Scotland, China, Korea, in particular) have a great future," Jim continued. "They have intensity, generally good technique, and are only lacking experience, which, of course, takes time.

"Generally, what I saw as a whole, was a very healthy sport with a future that continues to get brighter."

Ina Forrest made a point that had not been noted before: "I think it is a credit to all female curlers to note that three out of the four top teams, Canada, Scotland and Russia, had two females and two males on the ice in the Bronze and Gold medal games.

She added: "Having not seen the Russian team for several years it was great to see them do so well in Worlds. Given they are the hosts for 2014, I expect they will continue to improve and be a strong contender at Paralympics.

Sonja concluded: "It is always a great opportunity to re-connect with athletes and friends from all over the world that we have competed against in the past - and wonderful to see many new faces and entirely new teams."

And that is a statement in the true spirit of curling.

Scots skip Aileen Neilson wins Worlds Sportsmanship Award  3/5/2011

Aileen Neilson skip of the Scottish wheelchair curling team, has won the 2011 World Wheelchair Curling Championship sportsmanship award.

Neilson was nominated by her fellow competitors who were all invited to nominate a player at the event who, in their view, best exemplified the traditional values of skill, honesty, fair play, sportsmanship and friendship.

Scots publish draft criteria for high performance selection 3/3/2011

Dave Crosbee, British Curling's Performance Director and the person to whom Tony Zummack will report, has issued a draft of the athlete selection for next season's High Performance Training Program. This is NOT selection criteria for the Sochi Paralympics.

You can download the draft document from this link.

2011 World Championships wrap-up 3/2/2011

That fact that it was not unexpected should not diminish the achievement of Team Canada's successful defence of their World Championship in Prague. They are the first wheelchair team to go undefeated at a World level event, and though their first three wins were by single points and rested on the games' final stone breaking their way, they never looked in serious difficulty once they settled in. They also had the most steals (24) and gave up the fewest (7).

Read the rest of the wrap-up HERE

It's all about inclusion - video coverage at N. Ontario Provincials 3/2/2011

Thunder Bay's Nerwswatch TV programshowed a segment on the Northern Ontario Provincials, won by the Ficek rink. Watch the video HERE

It's all about inclusion, says Dave Kawahara, the driving force behind getting wheelchair established in Northern Ontario.

Rookie skip Steve Daniels, an eloquent new voice for the sport, explained: "In Northern Ontario it's very tough to get out in the winter for people with disabilities. So to be able to come out and partake in curling is great for the sport aspect but also for the social aspect and .. I think it's making a big impact in the community."

Canada's oldest wheelchair curler joins the Capitol WCC in Ottawa 3/2/2011

Ottawa's Capital Wheelchair Curling Club has welcomed Cliff Chadderton, CEO of War Amps, to its membership. Cliff, who will be 92 in May, was an enthusiastic and quick learner, soon able to throw normal rocks the full length of the ice with some consistency.

Chadderton lost his right leg below the knee in 1944 while in command of a company of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, battling for the Scheldt Estuary in Belgium and Holland during the Second World War. You can read his background HERE.

He has said he would like to do a documentary on wheelchair curling to motivate and encourage others to take up the sport. He certainly sets a great example.

Ontario provincial champion skip Cris Rees profiled  3/2/2011

Chris Rees, who led teammates Carl Bax, Alec Denys and Shauna Petrie to victory in the Ontario Provincials last month, told InsideToronto.com: "Home ice advantage was a significant advantage this year. I was able to sleep at home, hot showers, comfortable."

Chris talks among other things, about his previous record at the Nationals, including what he remembers as a narrow defeat by By BC's Jim Armstrong in 2008.

"I had a good chance three years ago, you know. I had the (winning) points in the house and it came down to last rock, and Jim Armstrong, who is the current skip of Team Canada, he made the shot and it won the game.

"It was heartbreaking because I did everything I could and I wasn't in charge of my own destiny at that point because he had last rock.

"He made the shot and he won the nationals. I won a silver."

You can read the full profile HERE.

Team Ideson from London ON to curl at the Brier 3/2/2011

Ilderton Curling Club's Team Ideson, the mostly rookie team who made the semi-final at the Ontario Provincials, will take to the ice during the 5th end break of the Brier 1 vs 2 game, March 11 at the John Labatt Centre in London Ontario.

Mark Ideson, with teammates Mike Munro, Tony Reynen and lead Jacqui Kinahan will demonstrate a variety of shots to what coach Ernie Comerford epects to be 8-10 thousand spectators.

"They'll be representing all of Canad's wheelchair curlers," said Comerford. "and I think the crowd will be impressed by their skill. It's great publicity for this wonderful sport in Ontario and across Canada.

The London wheelchair curling program has doubled its membership this year and expects even more participants after this appearance.

You can read a LONDONER article by Chris Montanini on the program, its coach and players HERE.

Ernie Comerford, Coach and League Coordinator can be reached at 519-203-0087.

Team Lessard repeat as Quebec champions  2/27/2011

Benoit Lessard brought his Magog CC team to the Victoria CC in Quebec City this weekend to compete in a best of 5 Provincial Championship series against a home side skipped by Jean-François Sylvestre. He added Sébastien Boisvert to last year's team in place of Denis Grenier, who is now alternate.

Lessard had beaten Sylvestre comfortably last year, and quickly established a 7-1 lead at the break in the first game. Sylvestre fought back, taking 2 in the 5th and then posting steals in each of the final 3 ends, but falling just a point short in the 7-6 final score.

In the second game, Lessard led 9-1 after 5 and finished more convicingly to win 10-3.

Lessard started Sunday's game 3 with a two with hammer, then gave up a 3, scored another two with hammer and the stole 4 on the wway to a third and decisive victory 9-6.

Line scores are available at a llink on this page.

Team Lessard will represent Quebec at the Nationals in Edmonton March 20-27.

Team Ficek three-peats as N. Ontario champions  2/27/2011

Wayne Ficek's Kenora/Sudbury squad won their third consecutive provincial title when they beat Sudbury newcomers Steve Daniel's newcomers 5-4 in the final of the Shoppers Home Health Care NOCA Wheelchair Provincial Championships at the Fort William CC.

The teams exchanged singles with hammer through 5 ends, but Ficek then stole in the 6th and 7th to go ahead 5-2. In the final end, sitting two, Daniel had a draw for a third point to force an extra but came up short. (Thank you Michael Alberg.)

Team Ficek will now represent Northern Ontario at the TMX Canadian Nationals in Edmonton March 20-27.

Line scores are HERE. An event poster, team rosters, schedule and information is available HERE

Defending champions versus the rookies for N. Ontario title  2/26/2011

Defending champions Team Ficek of Kenora/Dryden went undefeated during round robin play and by rule will have two opportunities to add a third consecutive Northern Ontario title when they face Sudbury rookies Team Daniel in the final of the Shoppers Home Health Care NOCA Wheelchair Provincial Championships at the Fort William CC on Sunday Feb 27.

Ficek posted their third round robin win, over Sonego 11-4, on the strength of consecutive 4s either side of the break. Steve Daniel's Sudbury team beat home side Levesque 10-9. They opened with a 4 but gave up 3 in the 8th and needed a single in the extra end to force a series of tie-breaks to decide who played Fiek in the final.

In the first tie-break game Daniel again went to an extra end against Sonego, this time stealing 2 to win 8-6. Daniel then played Levesque for the second time today, taking a 7-1 lead into the break. Levesque took two in the 5th end and stole 3 more to pull within one with an end to go, but Daniel claimed his place in the final with a single point in the 8th and an 8-6 win.

Game 1 of the final starts 10.30AM local time, and Ficek will clam the title if his team wins. If they lose, there will be a rematch at 2.30PM with the winner of that game going on to Edmonton Nationals in March.

Line scores are HERE. Despite detailed instructions I haven't been able to find the UStream video coverage from the club. Your luck may be better than mine. Check the Fort William CC website for details.

An event poster, team rosters, schedule and information is available HERE

Ficek takes early lead at No. Ontario Provincials 2/25/2011

Defending champions Team Ficek needed every part of the 4 he put on the board to draw level after 7 ends against home club favourite Carl Levesque in the opening draw of the Shoppers Home Health Care NOCA Wheelchair Provincial Championships at the Fort William CC.

Though ahead 5-1 at the 4th end break, Levesque ended on the losing side of the 8-7 final score.

Steve Daniel's rookie Sudbury squad must have been wondering what all the fuss was about as they stole their way to a 5-0 lead after their first 3 ends of serious competition. The bubble burst, however, when Fort William's Sonego rink bounced back with steals of their own in the second half to force an extra end, which they stole to win 8-7.

The second draw was a dose of reality for the rookies as Ficek's experienced squad put 11 unanswered points on the board before Daniel posted a consolation single in the 7th and shook hands after the 11-1 loss.

Levesque scored a narrow 8-7 win over clubmate Sonego in the afternoon draw. He started with a 3 but was down a point after 6 ends. Another 3 in the 7th gave him the victory.

Line scores are HERE and I'm told the club planned to webcast the games, though I wasn't able to find a working link. Did anyone else have better luck?

An event poster, team rosters, schedule and information is available HERE

Fort William CC hosts Northern Ontario Provincials Feb 25-27 2/24/2011

The Shoppers Home Health Care NOCA Wheelchair Provincial Championships begin Friday February 25th 1030AM at the Fort William CC in Thunder Bay.

Defending champion Team Ficek, out of Kenora and Dryden, are hoping for a third consecutive appearance at the Nationals in Edmonton in March. He admitted his team underperformed last year, going 3-6 after making it to a playoff tie-break game the year before. This year, after a couple of warm-up wins over Manitoba, he says his team is raring to go.

To win he will have to get past home club Team Levesque, coached by Dave Kawahara who was instrumental in bringing wheelchair curling to Northern Ontario. Carl Levesque skipped the first provincial team, which included Wayne Ficek and Mark Wherrett, now his competitors. Fort William CC is also fielding a team skipped by Gino Sonego.

Sudbury joins the oarty this year, sending a team of rookie curlers but experienced athletes skipped by Steve Daniel.

Tournament format is a round robin with the top two teams playing in the final, 10.30AM Sunday February 27.

The club has installed webcams - try the club website. You can also follow scores on playdowns.com

An event poster, team rosters, schedule and information is available HERE

South Korea to host 2012 Worlds, Qualifiers go to Finland again  2/22/2011

Chuncheon City, in South Korea will host the 2012 World Wheelchair Curling Championship. The event will be held in the Uiam Ice Rink, Chuncheon City, Gangwon Province between 18-25 February 2012.

The World Championship Qualifying tournament, open to all countries not in the top seven teams (excluding Korea) at this year's Worlds in Prague, will be held as last year, at the Kisakallio Institute in Lohja, Finland from 29th October to 5th November 2011.

Canada begin Worlds title defense against China 2/21/2011

Team Canada begin their defense of their 2009 Worlds title in Prague 9.30AM local time Tuesday February 22 against China, one of the two teams that a gained a spot through the Qualifying tournament in Finland last November.

With not much activity this season to guage how Canada might fare, I asked the CCA's Program Director, Gerry Peckham, for his assessment. That the team would do its best and hope for a place on the podium was a given.

Here's what he had to say:

This is a new quadrennial but 2014 is not that far away and this will be our first real opportunity to compare our current performance levels against the old and new line ups from other countries.

We'll be analyzing current and potential levels of play among the other countries; in particular those that have challenged for the podium in the past along with those we expect to challenge going forward. We're oredominately interested in execution percentages and score board management.

We'll also be establishing what the current performance standards are internationally as they relate to draw execution, take out execution, strategy, managing playing conditions and ice reading skills. Are there any new techniques or approaches being employed?

We're hopeful Team Canada can maintain their form and achieve new performance benchmarks individually and collectively. This will, however, be influenced by ice conditions.

This Championship will be a very challenging time for Jim considering his personal circumstances. Hopefully this will provide him with the opportunity to focus on the task at hand, which is also his passion. He will be well supported by team mates and coaches.

You can follow the Championship at our special Worlds section with the schedule, scores, tables and regular reports.

The schedule is available for download HERE. The sheets do have webcams, though we'll have to see whether they are operating. Line scores are promised HERE.

Minnesotans want to know why they can't roll and deliver  2/20/2011

Shawn Corbin and Scott Anderson took up wheelchair curling when they visited the Duluth CC on a Courage Center Duluth sponsored learn to curl night.

“There was no one here to teach us how to shoot from a wheelchair [so we] kind of developed a way to simulate their sliding release,” Shawn told Eric Gullickson, FOX 21 News.

Watch the video report HERE.

“We tried several different methods of delivery,” says Anderson, “We didn't realize there was one standard way to do it. And we came up with this method and thought this is really the best method or most practical way to do it.”

They feel the WCF rule mandating a stationary wheelchair needs to be changed but have been told the rule exists to make the sport as inclusive as possible.

Shawn is skeptical. "I don't know who exactly wrote the rules, who they were writing them for,” he said.

“If curling from a stand still position worked the best the able bodied curlers would do it too,” added able-bodied teammate Jeff Anderson. “It imitates actual curling much more than a stationary delivery and pushing a rock.”

Watching the video, both delivered sones with impressive weight and direction, but the front of their chairs moved considerably during release. They should find that a stationary delivery, once practiced, would produce far greater accuracy and weight control than propelling their chair and rock before pushing, unbraced, at the target.

Scotland's Aileen Neilson to be first female skip at World event  2/20/2011

Aileen Neilson, a 39 year old primary school teacher is set to become the first woman to skip her national side at a World Championship when she leads Scotland against Russia Tuesday afternoon in Prague.

“Last year, I was used to throwing the last stone for the team, but now I’m skip I’m having to make all the big decisions as well for the team, so there’s a bit of pressure that comes with the role," she told Paul Thomson of the East Kilbride News.

“But, hopefully, I can use all the skills and knowledge I’ve gained over the last year to our advantage.

“We want to be at the business end of the tournament so as long as we qualify for the semi-finals we won’t be too disheartened.

“But we want a place on the podium – that is our goal for this championship."

The team competed in an international spiel in Lanarkshire in January, losing to Canada in the final, and were in Perth for some training, game practice and team bonding last week.

While Sheila Swan will coach the team in the place of visa delayed new National Coach Tony Zummack, Aileen says: “The team feel good about our chances, so hopefully Tony likes what he sees and we can come back to Scotland with a medal round our necks.”

Thank you Team Germany  2/19/2011

I would like to express my thanks to Jochen Merkt and the members of Team Germany for their generous donation in support of the website and blog.

Their donation helps make both possible. If you would like to contribute to the running of the website and blog, you can do so by making a contribution of any amount through PayPal using the DONATE button on the front page of this website, or by writing to eric@wheelchaircurling.com for my mail address

Who will make the podium in Prague?  2/18/2011

Take our weekly poll on the blog

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to Prague we go  2/18/2011

Read the 2011 Worlds preview in our special section HERE.

In newspaper interview Armstrong denies he did anything wrong 2/17/2011

Team Canada skip Jim Armstrong was interviewed for almost three hours yesterday by The Province, and in today's paper reporter Ethan Baron writes: Armstrong, 59, said he did nothing wrong, but agreed to a guilty plea because authorities told him that if he didn't, his son wouldn't be able to get his plea agreement for a year and a day in jail.

The U.S. prosecutor's case was riddled with inaccuracies, Armstrong claimed in the interview, but was told Gregory would have faced a 10-year prison sentence unless he agreed to a package plea.

"They put a gun to my head by putting it to Greg's head," Baron reports.

On Tuesday, Armstrong said he opened the box because it was large, looked beat-up and had been wrapped with a lot of tape.

"If I knew what was in the box, why would I have opened it in plain view of everybody?" the retired dentist said.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Special Agent Jim Burkhardt pounced before Armstrong had a chance to call his son to ask about the contents of the box, Armstrong claimed.

"There's not a chance in the world that I'm taking this across the border," Armstrong said. "I know it's got to be illegal."

Asked for a response, U.S. Attorney's Office spokeswoman Emily Langlie told The Province Armstrong needs to live with the statements he made.

"That's what he told law enforcement. It's unfortunate that having entered a guilty plea that he is now interested in disputing the facts of the case," Langlie said, adding that Armstrong pleaded guilty "freely and voluntarily."

You can read the full interview HERE

I have been in contact with Jim who told me that his "intent would be to let the facts speak for themselves," and that The Province "didn't get it completely right."

UPDATE: Thursday 3PM - Since then a friend has reported claims by Jim of Prosecutorial misconduct, the fact that his son was under investigation prior to Jim's arrest, and mention of a polygraph test. (You can read them in the 6.53PM comment to this post.)

None of that goes directly to what is for me the key question: was Jim coerced into making false statements in his plea agreement admitting guilt for sommething he did not do, in order to have his son's sentence reduced from ten years to one year?

Jim had agreed to make a statement here, however the last email I received from him stated that he was on his way to the airport. "By the time we arrive in Prague, some desicions will be made regarding absolute, full disclosure, and any potential risk to Greg's wellbeing now."

I have asked Jim six pointed questions intended to cut through the inuendo and supposition. Though public interest is obviously high now, I think we should probably give Jim time to decide what is in his and his son's best interests before he makes a more definitive statement.

CCA response to Jim Armstrong sentencing 2/15/2011

After the details of the sentence that Team Canada skip Jim Armstrong received from US District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez became public yesterday, I offered Greg Stremlaw, the CEO of the Canadian Curling Association, Gerry Peckham, head of the national program, Joe Rea, coach of the national team, and Jim himself the opportunity to make a public comment.

None of those individuals owes me a comment personally. They do all realise, however, that what is said here will likely be read by everyone with an interest in wheelchair curling.

Here is the reply I received from Greg Stremlaw.


The CCA is aware of the outcome of yesterday’s court proceedings with Jim Armstrong. We monitored this very closely and have been formally debriefed.

At this time, there was no new information which came forth.

As you have indicated, the sentencing judge actually reduced the recommended actions and fine accordingly.

Given there have been no new facts or information which came forth which were relevant to this situation, the CCA has remained consistent with its disciplinary actions which were already handed down, including the specific conditions, that came out of the comprehensive review by the designated review committee.

The Canadian Curling Association continues to have the right to review or revisit this issue should any further information come forth which was not learned as part of our review and investigation.

The athlete is continuing to train and compete as part of the National Team Program at this juncture.

Thanks Eric.

Team Canada skip sentenced in fake Viagra case 2/14/2011

Team Canada skip Jim Armstrong appeared before US District Judge Ricardo Martinez in Seattle's US District Court at 2PM this afternoon to be sentenced for selling and dispensing counterfeit Viagra and Cialis drugs with the intent to mislead or defraud.

Judge Martinez told Armstrong that as a retired dentist, “you are a trained medical professional... you knew better,” than to provide counterfeit drugs.

He sentenced Jim to a $30,000 fine and a year of supervised release that must include 75 hours of community service. This was $20,000 less than had been recommended to the judge in the signed package plea agreement that avoided a trial.

The fake pills were to have been distributed in Vancouver by his son Gregory, who also faced sentencing today. Gregory was sentenced to a year and a day in jail, a $5,000 fine and two years supervised release, and was taken into custody immediately.

The judge will determine on April 12th whether the men owe restitution to the drug companies whose products were counterfeited.

The Province published a report HERE.

The Toronto Sun reported on background to the case last Sunday.

Given that there were no surprises at today's hearing, it is not expected that Jim will be the subject of any CCA sanction beyond what Greg Stremlaw had previously announced: "disciplinary actions taken and specific conditions imposed; but that the athlete is still a part of the National Team program and will continue to train and compete as such at this time."

Jim departs with the rest of Team Canada on Thursday to defend their World Championship in Prague February 21 - March 1.

News from Phoenix Arizona   2/11/2011

Team Alberta lead Bridget Wilson has been visiting Phoenix and contacted the four sheet Coyote Curling Club, who play on the ice used by the Phoenix Coyotes NHL team.

She was looking for some practice ice. She found the true spirit of curling alive and well in the desert:

I had contacted the Coyotes Curling Club about possibly getting out on the ice to do some training for the up coming Nationals. Not only did they comp me the ice time, the staff and all the curlers welcomed me with open arms, all greeting me and introducing themselves.

They all came on the ice with me to practice and then proceeded to ask me to stay and play on one of their teams. Which I did and had an absolute ball...they were all so nice and very good curlers.

After we went to the bar in the facility and the food and drinks just kept on coming along with lots of laughs and new friends made. The have invited me back out on Feb 25 to curl again. They even blew up our Team Yizek provincial championship photo we had just had taken, asked me to sign it and posted it up in the curling club.

I would really like to thank ex-Calgarian Darryl Horsman and the Coyotes curling club for arranging this. He is hoping to start a wheelchair league here as well. Here's hoping and hats off to all the wonderful people here ...talk about INCLUSION! It's a wonderful club and is so wheelchair accessible it's unreal!

If you use a wheelchair and live near Phoenix, contact the club via their website.

CCA camp for Ontario in Grimsby Feb. 11-12  2/10/2011

The CCA is holding the final regional camp in its talent identification and high performance development series, this weekend at the Peach King Centre in Grimsby, during the Ontario Men's Championship.

All 16 of the available slots were taken at the two day $50 a head camp, run by national team coaching staff member Wendy Morgan with Sonja Gaudet and Darryl Neighbour.

Sonja and Darryl will be in Toronto on Saturday evening to accept an award at the 27th Annual Great Valentine Fundraising Gala at the Royal York Hotel.

Minnesota Veterans learning to curl at St. Paul CC  2/10/2011

The Courage Center sponsored a group of US military veterans on a learn to curl visit to the St. Paul CC in Minesota.

CBS Channel 4 was on hand to watch. (video)

“Now I just need to work on being able to have some strength, and pushing it down there and trying to get to the house, I’m learning new terminology today,” said veteran Todd Kemery.

“This is something that I never thought I would do, but this looks like it’s a lot of fun. I would like to do this again,” said veteran Edward Graham.

News from Kenora, No. Ontario  2/10/2011

Wayne Ficek, skip of Team Kenora/Dryden, says his team is "chomping at the bit and ready to go... As under achievers last year (3-6) none of our team was happy with the results and would love the opportunity to compete in Edmonton."

Congratulations go to two team members, Mark Wherrett and Denise Miault who qualified for full carding under the OCA/NOCA Quest for Gold program.

Last Saturday they played Chris Sobkowicz's Manitoba team winning the first 7-6 when Chris wrecked on a guard looking at three in the four foot.

"The second game was a blow out 9 -1 win after six. While the first game's ice was good, we played on the same sheet after a 45 minute lunch and things had tightened up," Wayne said. "I think we caught them off guard with the ice and this is the first wins the team have had against Manitoba ever, so kudo's to Mark, Chester and Denise who are all playing better than ever.

"We're hoping we can get back to Nationals and truly believe three times = lucky."

Elisabeth Young-Walker of CurlBC's Adaptive Outreach Program 2/8/2011

The CCA's website has an article on the programme assistant for CurlBC's Adaptive Outreach initiative, Elisabeth Young-Walker, a 4-time Paralypiam swimmer and Assistant Chef de Mission for the London 2012 Paralympic Summer Games. She is currently developing an adaptive program to get children with disabilities involved in curling. While the goal is to promote the sport through fun games and not focus solely on wheelchair curling, many of the concepts can be adopted for on-ice play.

Elisabeth Walker-Young hopes to reach 50 to 70 children and youth this year. A retired Paralympian with a background in adaptive sport and sport administration, she strives to increase awareness and opportunities so that one day others may follow in her footsteps; whether by pursuing an active life or achieving success at the international level. For more details about the program or if you have a fun title for the program, please contact her directly at ewalkeryoung@curlbc.ca

The program is funded through CurlBC's share of 50/50 money raised during the Olympics and Paralympics.

You can read what she has to say HERE.

Team Sudbury funraising gala February 17  2/8/2011

The Sudbury CC is holding a fundraising gala for its wheelchair curling team on Thursday February 17 between 7 and 10PM.

Sudbury is fielding a team at the Northern Ontario Championships in Thunder Bay Feb. 25-27. Tim Phillips, for NortherLife.ca, reports
"Skip Steve Daniel, along with mates Rick Prudhomme, Sarah Lashbrook, Dennis Duclos, coach Thomas Matheson and assistant coach/sponsor Norm Gervais from the Sudbury club, have been busy gearing up for the event.

The team has been practicing two and three times per week, sharpening their skills in hopes of capturing the prestigious event. The Sudbury club is holding a fundraising gala for the team Feb. 17, from 7 to 10 p.m.

Tickets are $5 and available at the club. To get involved in wheelchair curling, phone 705-673-5601."

Wheelchairs take the stage at SaskTel Tankard  2/7/2011

Players competing in the men's provincial championships for the SaskTel Tankard and a place at the Brier, took some time out to try wheelchair curling with members of Team Saskatchewan on Saturday.

"I hogged at least three. I hit the boards, like, three times and I threw the wrong turn three times," Chadd McKenzie told Kevin Mitchell of The StarPhoenix.

Mackenzie's team of able-bodied curlers lost 11-2 in six ends to the wheelchair squad. "That just shows . . . I've curled for 11 years, but going into this is completely different. It's a different game," he said.

Read the full report HERE.

National champ Cormack adds BC provincial title  2/6/2011

Gary Cormack had a second chance at a national title last year, when his second place at the 2010 BC Provincials allowed him to skip the Host Team to last season's national title.

This year, he retained Vince Miele at second, and added 3rd Frank LaBounty and lead Alison Duddy from last year's BC championship side, hoping to get to the Edmonton Nationals in March through the front door.

After two wins in round robin play at the 2011 BC Provincial Championships in Kimberley his team went straight through to this afternoon's final, though not against their expected opponent. Bob Mcdonald, playing with just Bill Lindstrom and Samantha Siu as 3rd Sonja Gaudet was unable to travel, upset the multi-medalled Armstrong team in the semi-final, and looked to continue an extraordinary run into the final.

They started well, with Cormack facing four with his last stone on the 1st end, and only able to limit the damage, giving up a single. But Cormack quickly regrouped, scoring 2 in the 2nd and then posting steals of 2 in the 3rd and 4th ends for a comfortable 6-1 lead at the break.

Mcdonald fought back with a single, and a steal of a point to pull within 3 after 6 ends, but Cormack's 2 in the 7th allowed him to run Mconald out of stones, and claim his first national title since 2006 when he was a member of Team Canada.

Cormack * 0 2 2 2 0 0 2 X - 8
Mcdonald  1 0 0 0 1 1 0 X - 3

You can read a full report by Matt Coxford of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman HERE.

The 2011 Nationals are scheduled for March 20-27 at the Jasper Place CC in Edmonton, Alberta.

Mcdonald upsets Armstrong in BC semi-final  2/6/2011

And that, as my wife says, is why they play the games.

When Bob Mcdonald faced Jim Armstrong on the first day of the BC Provincials, he was unable to get on the scoreboard in a 10-0 drubbing. Just after 9AM this morning, he stole the opening point of the game. Seven ends later he had stolen 3 more ends and made a game saving last rock takeout to win 6-5.

Kimberley had experienced rain on Saturday which had made the ice very slow, and particularly challenging for Mcdonald's lead, Samantha Siu. This morning the ice was much faster, and Samantha set up the ends to enable her team to win.

After taking 2 in the 3rd to go ahead 3-1, Mcdonald posted three successive singles before giving up 2 in the 7th.

In the 8th end, Armstrong's team had the rocks in the house to force an extra end, but with the last rock of the game, Bob Mcdonald threw a takeout that though it rolled out, was enough to limit the damage to a steal of just 2.

Armstrong * 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 2 - 5
Mcdonald    1 0 2 1 1 1 0 0 - 6

Mcdonald, who is playing without Team Canada's Sonja Gaudet, is back on the ice at 2pm where he will attempt to give Gary Cormack his first loss, and take the provincial title.

Edmonton's Mike McMullen profiled  2/5/2011

Mike McMullen. who will be playing 3rd for Cliff Nuspl's Host Team at the 2011 Nationals in Edmonton March 20-27, is profiled in the WestEdmontonLocal.

Injured in fall 26 years ago, McMullen took up sports about ten years after his injury, first playing rugby and then curling.

“It keeps you active, keeps you motivated, gets you out in the public,” McMullen said.

There's one topic that he and Calgary's Jack Smart agree: the insistence that teams be of mixed gender is hindering the devlopment of the sport. "“It’s not holding the sport back in any way due to their skill levels, just there’s not a lot of them out there,” he maintains.

You can read the full profile HERE.

Cathy Craig, the Host Team coach and manager of Jasper Place CC where the Nationals will take place, has agreed her team can live at home during the Championship.

“What people don’t understand about wheelchair athletes when they travel is it’s hard work. It’s a challenge getting in and out of bed and going to the bathroom and getting out of the tub because most hotel rooms aren’t well equipped,” said Craig.

“Our team has chosen to stay home. By the end of the week when everyone else is tired because all their daily tasks are just so difficult, we should still be rested,” said Craig. “I just think it’s a huge advantage for us.”

Do you agree?

BC Provincials - Day 2  2/5/2011

In the second Draw of the BC Provincials this morning, Bob Mcdonald faced Jim Armstrong without his most experienced player. Team Canada lead Sonja Gaudet, who was to play 3rd for Mcdonald, was unable to travel from Vernon because of road and weather conditions.

Playing with a three member team, they were overrun 10-0 by Team Armstrong, giving up steals in each of the 6 ends before handshakes.

Mcdonald did get on the scoreboard in his afternoon match against Cormack, taking one with hammer and then stealing a point. He held Cormack to one in the 3rd, but the lead was short-lived, as Cormack stole the next 9 points to win 10-2 in 7 ends.

Line scores are HERE

Tomorrow's 9AM semi-final is between Armstrong and Mcdonald; the winner playing Cormack at 2PM for the provincial title.

Cormack beats Armstrong in opening draw of BC Provincials  2/4/2011

Team Canada skip Jim Armstrong faced National Champion and ex-Team Canada teammate Gary Cormack in the first round of the three team BC Provincials at the Kimberley CC this afternoon.

Cormack stole single points in the first two ends, then gave up single point steals in ends 4 and 5 to fall behind 3-2 after 5. He then levelled the scores with a single in the 6th, stole one in the 7th and two more in the 8th.

The final commentary entry on Playdowns.com said: Armstrong's final rock is not hard enough to clear the house and Cormack ends the game with 2.

Armstrong is playing with his TC 3rd Darryl Neighbour, past TC skip Chris Daw and 3 time national champion Jacqui Roy.

Gary Cormack has Vince Miele and two of last year's BC champions, Frank LaBounty at 3rd and lead Alison Duddy.

Armstrong is back on the ice 10AM tomorrow morning when he plays Bob Mcdonald. Mcdonald, playing with Team Canada's Sonja Gaudet, Bill Lindstrom and Samantha Sui, plays Cormack at 3pm.

Results and line scores are available HERE

Toronto's Chris Rees regains title at Dominion Provincials 2/4/2011

Chris Rees, playing on home ice at the Toronto Cricket and Curling Cub, defeated previously unbeaten Ken Gregory 8-3 to reclaim the Ontario provincial title he last held in 2008.

Rees, with Carl Bax at 3rd, Alec Denys 2nd and lead Shauna Petrie, had given up an opening end 5 to Gregory in a 13-5 round robin defeat. The final began more quietly. The teams were tied at 3 after 5 ends, but Rees turned the tables on the Bradford team with a big 4 in the 6th, forcing Gregory to gamble, and allowing Rees to steal a final point in the 7th.

Gregory, playing with Collinda Joseph 3rd, Frank Cannarella 2nd and Jim Primavera at lead, were behind in only 3 of the 34 ends they played during the round robin.

The semi-final between Rees and Ilderton's Mark Ideson was played earlier this morning. Only Jacqui Kinahan on Ideson's rink had more than a year or so's experience but the team, with Mike Munro and Tony Reynen became London's first to reach a provincial playoff. They earned their place by defeating reigning champion Bruce Cameron's Ottawa team in round robin play.

Facing home-ice favourite Chris Rees in the semi-final, perhaps, like nervous mountaineers, they looked down. After holding Rees with hammer to one in the first, they gave up steals of 3 in the second and a further point in the third, and could not recover. Final score 8-3.

Full line scores are available HERE

BC Provincial Championships begin Friday February 4  2/3/2011

Three teams are scheduled to compete in the BC Provincial Championships in Kimberley starting tomorrow, February 4th at 4PM.

Defending National Champion Gary Cormack brings Vince Miele from last year's team and adds Frank LaBounty and Alison Duddy who played on the 2010 BC Championship team skipped by Gerry Austgarden.

Team Canada skip Jim Armstrong will be hoping to reclaim his Provincial title by teaming up with national team 3rd Darryl Neighbour, past Canada skip Chris Daw and lead Jackie Roy. Each of the men have won Paralympic curling gold medals and each have skipped a national championship team, while Jackie Roy won three national titles; in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Bob McDonald has Team Canada's Sonja Gaudet at third, with Bill Lindstrom and Samantha Sui.

Results will be available from this link.

Kimberley CC President Steve Tersmette is an enthusiastic supporter of wheelchair curling, and hopes the money invested in making the facilities accessible to attract a provincial championship will result in local wheelchair users trying out the sport.

Kimberley is close to the Alberta border while all but Sonja Gaudet will be travelling from the lower mainland, a distance factor that prohibited some of last year's competitors from registering this year. While CurlBC's policy of distributing championships across the Province has much to commend it, for a sport that is still attempting to become established as a recreation opportunity for wheelchair users, placing the championship such a long way from all current participants has meant a small field. Luckily, there is no snow in the immediate forecast.

Dominion Provincial Championships - Ontario Day 3  2/3/2011

In the final round robin draw of the Dominion Provincial Championships, Bradford's 2009 Champion Ken Gregory maintained his perfect record and headed straight to Friday's final, defeating current champion Ottawan Bruce Cameron 10-2. Cameron started well, stealing a point in the first and holding Gregory to one in the second; but a series of steals put Gregory 7-1 ahead, and a 3 in the seventh sealed the win.

Ilderton's Mark Ideson, who had beaten Cameron yesterday, started slowly against clubmate Dal Wrigley, giving up single point steals in the first two ends. The game quickly returned to form however when Ideson posted 4 in the 3rd and stole the rest of the way to an 11-2 win that puts him in the semi-final against Chris Rees.

Richard Fraser improved his record to 2-3 when he took Rees to an extra end, taking a single with hammer for a 9-8 victory.

In the morning Draw 4, held over from the previous day because of bad weather, Ken Gregory defeated Ilderton's Mark Ideson 8-5 on the strength of steals in the 4th, 5th and 6th ends. Chris Rees bounced back from his first loss yesterday to trounce Dal Wrigley 10-2, and Bruce Cameron beat RA Ottawa clubmate Richard Fraser 8-5.

Tomorrow's semi-final between Rees and Ideson is at 10AM, with the winner playing Gregory in the final at 2.30PM

Table after Round Robin

Ken Gregory 5-0
Mark Ideson 3-2
Chris Rees 3-2
Bruce Cameron 2-3
Richard Fraser 2-3
Dal Wrigley 0-5

Full line scores are available HERE

Dominion Provincial Championships - Ontario Day 2   2/2/2011

In Draw 3 at the Dominion Provincial Championships in Toronto, Ken Gregory was the big winner, taking out previously unbeaten Chris Rees to maintain his own perfect record. His Bradford team took 5 in the first end, only to give back 4 on a three in the second and a steal of one in the third. Gregory's 4 before the break settled the team who went on to win 13-5 in seven ends.

Defending champion Cameron came unstuck against Ilderton's Mark Ideson when down 4-3 in the 6th, he gave up successive steals to lose 6-4. In the third game of Draw 3, Ottawa's Fraser beat Ildeton's Wrigley 10-2, posting his first win.

A significant winter storm meant that only one draw was played, with Draw 4 put back to Thursday morning, and Draw 5 to be played Thursday afternoon.

Full line scores are available

Dominion Provincial Championships - Ontario Day 1  2/1/2011

Victories went to the more experienced teams in the first Draw of the Dominion Provincial Championships at the Toronto Cricket and Curling Club.

Chris Rees, looking to regain his title after a couple of years, beat Mark Ideson's Ilderton 1 by 8-3 with three consecutive steals for 6 points in the middle of the game.

Bruce Cameron gave up a 3 ender in the first, but stole the last 8 points to win 12-4 against Dal Wrigley's Ilderton 2.

Ken Gregory got off to a perfect start, scoring 4 in the first end on the way to a 8-2 win over Ottawa's Richard Fraser.

In Draw 2 this afternoon, home ice favourite Chris Rees overcame a 6-4 deficit to post a 3 in the 8th for a 7-6 win over Ottawa's Bruce Cameron.

Ilderton's Mark Ideson gave up single point steals in each of the first three ends playing Ottawa's other rink skipped by Richard Fraser, before steadying to win 8-3 in 7 ends.

Bradford's Gregory defeated Dal Wrigley's Ilderton 2 side 15-0.

Table after 2 Draws

Gregory 2-0
Rees 2-0
Cameron 1-1
Ideson 1-1
Faser 0-2
Wrigley 0-2

Full line scores are available HERE

Six Ontario teams competing in Dominion Provincials Feb 1 - 4 1/31/2011

Six teams will be competing at the Toronto Cricket and Curling Club this week for the Dominion Provincial Wheelchair Curling Championship and the right to represent the southern part of the province at the Nationals in Edmonton, March 21-27.

Defending champion Bruce Cameron of Ottawa returns with Doug Morris, Jamie Eddy and Christine Lavallee. Fellow  RA Curling Club skip Richard Fraser has two females on his team;  Joanna Bos at 3rd and Clare Argo at lead, while Don Stinson plays 2nd.

Chris Rees will play on home ice with Carl Bax, Alex Denys and Shauna Petrie. Bradford is represented by Ken Gregory, with Collinda Joseph playing 3rd, Frank Cannarella and Jim Primavera (who was part of the very first Team Canada squad.)

Ilderton CC is bringing two teams to the championship this year. Mark Ideson skips Mike Munro, Tony Reynen and Jacqui Kinahan. The second team is skipped by Dal Wrigley, who moved from Chris Rees's team, Gilbert Blanchette, and two players born in Africa; Hocine Zenile, originally from Algeria and Peninah Mutindah, originally from Kenya.  Ilderton coach Ernie Comeford says all but Jacqui Kinahan are fairly new to the sport.

First Draw is 10AM tomorrow (Tuesday February 1) with five round robin draws being played through Thursday morning. The top team will go straight through to Friday's final to be joined by the winner of the 2 vs 3 semi-final game.

The timetable, schedule and team list can be downloaded HERE

Daily line scores from the Championship should be available from the Ontario Curling Association's website.

Team Yizek wins 5th straight Alberta Championship  1/30/2011

Calgary's Team Yizek, playing on home ice and looking for their fifth consecutive provincial title, went out to an early 7-0 lead over Edmonton's Cliff Nuspl in today's final of the Alberta Wheelchair Curling Championship at the Ogden Legion CC. After the break, Nuspl took a single in 5 and stole 1 in the 6th, but gave up 4 in the 7th. Yizek won 11-2.

Team Yizek, with Jack Smart, Anne Hibberd, Bridget Wilson and Martin Purvis, is a talented team that has been working together since Ernie Comerford started the program in Calgary in 2004.

Bruno Yizek is a Paralympic gold medallist who will be in Prague defending Canada's World title in Prague in three weeks. Both Anne and Bridget have also worked with the Team Canada squad, and their experiences have been integrated into the teams practices.

Now coached by Andy Jones, for the past two plus seasons they were guided by Tony Zummack, newly appointed British national coach. He told me the team prepares just as hard as Team Canada; the only diference is lack of access to the specialists and off-site resources that the national team enjoys.

Team Yizek's experience and the time and effort they put into preparing for championships, made them heavy favourites to repeat as provincial champions. In seven weeks they will know if they are good enough to go one better than in 2007 and 2009, and break BC's stranglehold on the national championship.

Calgary's Yizek and Edmonton's Nuspl in Alberta Provincial Final 1/29/2011

Five time defending champion Bruno Yizek's rink reached the finals of the Alberta Provincial Wheelchair Curling Championships at Calgary's Ogden Legion CC, defeating fellow Calgarian Dale Keith 14-6 with seven unanswered points in the second half of the game.

Cliff Nuspl beat David Graves 10-2 in the battle to choose which Edmonton team would reach the final and therefore gain a place either as champion or host at the Nationals March 20-27.

The Provincial final between Yizek (4-0) and Nuspl (3-1) starts at 10.30AM tomorrow (Sunday January 30)

News from Norway  1/29/2011

Norway have been practicing this weekend at the Halden Curling Centre in southern Norway close to the Swedish border.

"The ice is keen, with good curl, I like it!" Thoralf Hognestad, their coach, told me. "We're lookijng forward to playing in Prague, and are going for the Page playoffs."

In two weeks the team are playing in the Norwegian Cup alongside Thomas Ulsrud and their nation's other top able bodied curlers.

Team Bradford curl at CPAO funspiel  1/29/2011

Ken Gregory and his Bradford team curled in the 2nd annual Canadian Paraplegic Association Ontario Funspiel last Saturday as a practice session for their upcoming competition at the Provincials, being held in Toronto, February 1-4.

"We only get together at the Bonspiels," Gregory told Miriam King of the Bradford Times. "This is our big warm-up."

Ken Gregory's Team Bradford has Collinda Joseph 3rd, Frank Cannarella 2nd and Jim Primavera at lead.

Team Canada training in Kelowna this weekend  1/29/2011

Team Canada made an unannounced appearance at the Kelowna CC this morning and are on the ice now (noon) in what is the last opportunity for the team to get together before the Prague Worlds (Feb 21 - March 3). The BC Provincials are next weekend, and Jim Armstrong is due to be in Seattle the following Friday. National Team Coach Joe Rea is leading this weekend's session.

They have ice time booked for 8AM tomorrow (Sunday) for anyone local interested in seeing them.

Edmonton guaranteed a home side at 2011 Nationals  1/29/2011

Calgary and Edmonton each have two teams competing at the 2011 Alberta Provincial Wheelchair Curling Championships being held at Calgary's Ogden Legion Curling Club.

In the opening draw, heavily favoured Team Yizek played against their 2010 alternate Cliff's Nuspl's Edmonton rink. The teams were tied at 2 at the 4th end break, Nuspl pulled ahead 4-2 after 6, but could not hold on as Team Yizek put three more on the board to win 5-4.

Edmonton posted a win with Dave Graves defeating Calgary's Dale Keith 7-3.

In the second draw Yizek beat Graves 12-5 and Nuspl beat Keith 7-3, both games called after 7 ends.

In the last round robin draw the Calgary teams played each other - Yizek beating Keith 10-1 in 6 ends. They'll face each other again in the 1v4 semi-final. Nuspl beat Graves 7-3 and will face each other in the all Edmonton 2v3 semi-final.

Keith's loss to Yizek means the final will have a team from each community. With two teams to qualify for the Nationals, this guarantees there'll be an Edmonton team at the Nationals in Edmonton, March 20-27.

Cathy Craig is posting occasional scores via Twitter - account 1CathyC

Jim Armstrong sentencing delayed until February 11 1/27/2011

Jim Armstrong and his son Gregory were to appear in Judge Martinez US Federal Courtroom tomorrow, January 28, for sentencing related to their plea agreements signed last October.

The case has been continued and sentencing rescheduled because the US District Attorney's Office did not complete in time the paperwork that the Armstrongs require to be allowed into the United States.

Sentencing is now set for Friday Fenruary 11 at 1.30PM for Jim, and 2PM for Gregory.

News from Quebec - Nouvelles du Québec  1/27/2011

A very experienced wheelchair curling coach suggested to me recently that the up-and-coming team in Canada was Team Lessard from Quebec. They're young, proven athletes in other disciplines, who with coaching will be the team to beat in the years to come. They also won the Cathy Kerr Spiel last November.

They were among the ten Quebec wheelchair users attending the CCA's Talent Identification and Development Camp last weekend at the Boucherville Curling Club, receiving guidance from national team coach Wendy Morgan and Team Canada 2nd, Ina Forrest.

You can view 143 photos from the 'camp fauteuil roulant' gallery on the Quebec Curling Facebook page.

Quebec's Provincial Championship is scheduled for February 25-27 at the Victoria CC in Quebec City.

Un entraîneur très expérimenté de curling en fauteuil roulant m’a commenté récemment à l’effet que l’Équipe Lessard du Québec, est sans doute la plus prometteuse sur le circuit canadien. Il s’agit d’une formation jeune, mais en plus, tous les joueurs pratiquent une autre discipline sportive qui fait d’eux des athlètes accomplis à tous les niveaux. Avec un bon entraînement, il est à prévoir que l’Équipe Lessard sera la formation à vaincre dans les années à venir. Cette formation a d’ailleurs remporté le Cathy Kerr’s Bonspiel en november dernier.

C’est par l’entremise de Curling Canada, qu’une dizaine de joueurs en fauteuil roulant du Québec ont participé pour la première fois, à un camp de développement et d’identification de joueurs potentiels cette fin de semaine au Club de Curling de Boucherville. Tous ont pu profiter des judicieux conseils de l’entraîneuse nationale Wendy Morgan et de la seconde joueuse d’Équipe Canada Ina Forrest.

Visite Facebook - "Québec curling - camp fauteuil roulant" pour les photos.

Le championnat provincial du Québec est prévu pour les 25 au 27 février prochain au Club de Curling Victoria, Ville de Québec.

Calgary host Alberta Provincials Jan 28-30 1/26/2011

The Alberta Provincial Championship will be held at the Ogden Legion CC in Calgary from Friday January 28 with the final on Sunday January 30. As last year, four teams will compete; two from Calgary and two from Edmonton.

Team Canada alternate Bruno Yizek rejoins his Calgary teammates after Paralympic duty last year. Team Smart 2010 thus becomes Team Yizek 2011 with Bruno Yizek at skip, Jack Smart, Anne Hibberd, Bridget Wilson and Martin Purvis, the all-star 2nd at last year's Nationals in Kelowna.

Their coach for the past two-plus seasons has been Tony Zummack, now newly appointed Great Britain wheelchair curling coach. He tells me: "The coaching duties for Team Yizek are now in the capable hands of Andy Jones.

"I look forward to their continued successes knowing their goals and ambitions. If I am still in Calgary during the Provincials I will be keeping an eye on them as a fan and a friend.

"The decision was made to have a new coach with the team prior to the Provincials so that the transition moving forward would be as smooth as possible and give Andy time to know the players. I have spent the last month with the team and Andy providing as much insight to their development and team philosophies as possible. I am confident that all 5 players and Andy are prepared and looking forward to the upcoming competitions."

Brian Rivers coaches Team Keith, Calgary's other contenders. They have Dale Keith at Skip, Karl Meier 3rd, George Assenheimer 2nd, Wanda Pizzinato at lead with Curtis Junor the alternate.

Edmonton's Cathy Craig is bringing two teams to Calgary. Cliff Nuspl, who skipped an Edmonton team in 2008 and 2010 and was invited to join Team Smart as allternate in Kelowna last year, has Mike McMullan 3rd, Warren Fleury 2nd, and Shawna Walsh at lead.

The second Edmonton team is skipped by Dave Graves throwing 3rd stones, with Don Donaldson throwing 4th, Dwaine Shupac 2nd and lead Marie Laframboise. Doug MacEachern is the Edmonton alternate.

The format is a 3 draw round robin (first draw 11AM Friday) with 1 v. 4 and 2 v. 3 semi-finals 2.30PM Saturday, then a Sunday 10.30AM final. Because there will only be 9 provincial teams competing at the Nationals in Edmonton, Alberta will field a Host team. That means that both teams competing in the Alberta final will play at the Nationals.

New Brunswick and PEI not yet ready for prime time  1/26/2011

New Brunswick's first wheelchair curling event, a spiel this weekend at the Frederickton CC, has been cancelled because of insufficient entries. Laughie Rutt, 3rd on Nova Scotia's provincial champion Team Fitzgerald and a long time evangelist for curling in Atlantic Canada, said that though the cancellation was a disappointment, several curlers from New Brunswick and PEI were able to attend the recent Atlantic Development Camp at Crapaud CC.

"There are some promising players in both PEI and NB," he said, "and they will soon be on the scene at nationals."

The CCA had hoped to add a tenth Provincial team to the schedule for this year's Nationals in Edmonton (March 20 - 27) but with New Brunswick and PEI deciding they were not yet ready to compete, Alberta will field a Host Team to round out the numbers, as has been done several times in the past.

Last year BC's Host Team, skipped by Gary Cormack, won the National Championship in Kelowna.

Thank you  1/25/2011

I'd like to publicly thank the Calgary Wheelchair Curling Association for their very generous donation in support of this blog and wheelchaircurling.com.

Their show of support, along with the others I receive from time to time, allows me not only to recoup the expenses of runing the blog and website, but also makes it easier to justify the time that I devote to keeping up with what's happening in wheelchair curling, both in Canada and around the world.

Cameron wins Recreation Division of 50th Ottawa Valley spiel  1/23/2011

Team Cameron and Team Fraser of the Capital WCC competed in this weekend's 50th Ottawa Valley Mixed Spiel at the RA Cemtre in Ottawa. They were part of an eight team Recreation Division, both reaching the final rounds.

Bruce Cameron, with Doug Morris, Jamie Eddy and Katie Paialunga (filling in for Christine Lavallee, who was sailing in a Miami regatta) won the trophy, beating a team of able-bodied curlers 3-2 in the final.

Michael McCreadie playing for Scotland in England  1/22/2011

Fenton's Rink, located near Tunbridge Wells in Kent, south-east of London, is the only curling ice rink in England. This weekend it is the site of the Four Nations Competition (not a wheelchair event) hosted by the English Curling Association, between teams from Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland.

Michael McCreadie skipped and threw 3rd stones for Scotland in the Tom Ballantyne Trophy competition (highest aggregate score over five games against England in the year). He also skipped a Mixed Team against Wales. Photos from the event can be seen on Bob Cowan's blog

Norway's Tone Edvardsen first to use power chair at Worlds  1/21/2011

Tone Edvardsen, will be the first to take advantage of the change in the World Curling Federation's rules of competition, when she plays second for Team Norway at the 2011 World Championships in Prague using her power chair. Previously participation in World Championships had been limited to users of manual wheelchairs.

She is one of three changes to the Norwegian team made by coach Thoralf Hognestad, who returned to the team after their disappointing 3-6 finish at the Vancouver Paralympics. Tone, 36, is an occupational therapist and competing in her third season of wheelchair curling. Her major outside interest is photography, and you can see her photos at this link.

Sheila Swan to coach Scotland at 2011 Worlds in Prague   1/19/2011

Because of continuing delays in the paperwork allowing Alberta's Tony Zummack to relocate to Scotland and take up his position as National Coach, Dave Crosbee, British Curling's new Performance Director, has confirmed that Sheila Swan will be in charge of the Scotland team in at the 2011 World Championships in Prague.

Sheila played on Jackie Lockhart's World Champion team in 2002, and is currently the Royal Caledonian Club's Development Manager - Adults and Disabilities.

Tony is keen to take up his responsibilities and told me today: "I was very glad to see all eight athletes from the National Squad playing in the final three games in Lanarkshire.

"To see Scotland reach the final against Canada should give the squad a sense of confidence heading to Prague.

"While I wish I was there now I have full confidence in Sheila Swan as she knows the athlete's quite well as she was with them in Vancouver. Preparations are ongoing and I look forward to the day I am there to meet the entire team and staff."

Canada beats Scotland to win Lanarkshire International  1/19/2011

Canada posted two 4 enders to see off Scotland 2 in their morning draw, setting up a final with Scotland 1, who lost their unbeaten record, falling 6-5 in the morning to Hosts 1 after giving up a 4-ender.

In the final Scotland were behind 5-3 with hammer, but gave up a steal of 2 in the 7th (final) end and Canada won 7-3, finishing the tournament with a perfect 5-0 record.

The Czechs played Sweden in the battle of 2nd place teams, going out to a 4-1 lead and hanging on for a 4-3 victory. Scotland 2 beat Hosts 1 in the game between 3rd place teams.

Results of the two morning draws and the afternoon finals can be found HERE

A news report is available HERE and a video can beviewed HERE

Bob Cowan, who took the photos on this page, follows wheelchair curling in Scotland and attended some of the action on Tuesday. You can see more of his photos HERE. He also noted that in the game he watched. Darryl Neighbour skipped while Jim played front end.

Canada and Scotland 3 for 3 - Day 1 of Lanarkshire International 1/18/2011

Team Canada flew to Scotland on Sunday, and at 9AM on Tuesday were on the ice for the first of three draws on Day 1 of the Lanarkshire International at the Hamilton (SCO) Ice Rink.
Scottish TV had cameras there at the start of the event. You can see the video at this link.

Bruno Yizek was ill and unable to travel; his place taken by Manitoba's Chris Sobkowicz.

Any jet lag did not seem to affect their performance as they posted 3 wins. They fell behind early in the opener against Sweden, but a 3 in the 3rd put them ahead, and they handed Jalle Jungnell his first loss as a National Coach, 6-3 in 7 ends. Sweden recovered to win their next two games, 8-6 over Scotland 2, and 6-5 over Mainhatten.

In Canada's second game Jens Jager's Mainhatten Ice Rollers managed only a single point in a 7-1 score in 6 ends.

Canada finished a hectic day with a 7-4 win over Host Team 3 from the South Lanarkshire WCC.

Scotland, still without new coach Tony Zummack, also posted 3 wins: 13-4 over Hosts 2, 6-2 over Marcus Sieger's Germany, and 11-2 over the Czech Republic. No word about where the Scots are delivering their stones from.

Line scores of all the games are HERE
Tables after Day 1 are HERE

Team Canada 2011 set for Prague World Championships 1/17/2011

We have just received official confirmation that Team Canada for the 2011 World Championships in Prague, February 21 to March 3, will be:

Jim Armstrong (BC) - skip
Darryl Neighbour (BC) - 3rd
Ina Forrest (BC) - 2nd
Sonja Gaudet (BC) - lead
Bruno Yizek (AB) - alternate

Coach - Joe Rea
Team Leader - Wendy Morgan
Mental Trainer - Dr.Laura Farres

This is the same team that won gold in Vancouver last March. Hopefully a team photo will be available soon.

In response to a query about Team Canada's low profile this season, Program Director Gerry Peckham responded: "This has basically been a year off as it relates to the intensity and profile of Team Canada activities. Our focus has been on regionally based talent ID and development and our NTP athletes have been engaged in assisting Wendy and Joe with that undertaking along with a personal focus on their own skill development. They are willingly “putting back into the sport” and have done an excellent job on behalf of the program in the years to come….

"We will gear up again next year."

It is understandable that after the rigours and the success of last season, National Team Program (NTP) members were entitled to an easier year post-Vancouver, and some have been very active in various CCA sponsored regional initiatives this season.

On the other hand, with interest in wheelchair curling potentially at its highest after a Paralympic gold medal, more CCA or NTP information (and dare we suggest photos) on just what the national team has been doing since March would capitalise on that interest.

While this blog receives responses to specific questions, the best publicity is proactive. Perhaps it's time for someone at the CCA or the NTP to be responsible for, and committed to, gathering and sharing publicity information.

Ten team field for Lanarkshire International January 18-19  1/17/2011

Canada will play in their second and final preparatory competition before defending their World Championship in Prague February 21, when they compete in the Lanarkshire International at the Hamilton Ice Rink (SCO) tomorrow, January 18.

The event has been organised by the South Lanarkshire WCC who include three local teams in the ten team two pool field.

Club secretary David Morgan told The Glasgow Evening Times the club, which has 33 players and includes members of the Great Britain Paralympic development squad, is all geared up for the two-day event.

“We wanted to invite some good teams to play us. At first, we hoped for about four teams to confirm, but we have 10 and it will be a great event."

Recently appointed Great Britain coach Tony Zumack is still awaiting paperwork for his move from Alberta, so the Scots, who have two new members, Gregor Ewan and Michael Mackenzie, will be mentored by Sheila Swan.

Skip Aileen Neilson comments; “We are really looking forward to the International competition at Hamilton. It is an exciting start to a new cycle with a new team. It will be a good trial, and, for me it is a great opportunity to skip the team and develop and build team dynamics.”

Canada will play four round robin games games beginning against Sweden at 9AM local time Tuesday January 18. The first 3 teams play across the pools at 2.20PM Wednesday. Results will first be posted HERE.

Pool A
Lanarkshire 3
Mainhatten Ice Rollers - (Jens Jäger)
Scotland 2

Pool B
Czech Republic
Germany (Marcus Sieger)
Lanarkshire 1
Lanarkshire 2
Scotland 1

Skip uses wheelchair in latest CCA advertisement 1/14/2011

The CCA's StartCurling Campaign includes a skip using a wheelchair in one of the ads in their "shots made on purpose" series. Watch the video HERE

Sudbury aiming to be new force in Northern Ontario  1/14/2011

Sudbury Curling Club will be joining Thunder Bay and Kenora in a challenge for the Northern Ontario Provincial Championship. Their team of skip Steve Daniel, vice Rick Prud'homme, second Sarah Lashbrook and lead Dennis Duclos practise up to six hours a week at the curling club, coached by Thomas Matheson.

Skip Daniel is a multi-sport athlete who competed for Canada at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing. His team, in their first year of curling, hope to join an evening league, but playing at the Thunder Bay Provincials February 25-27 will be their first time competing against wheelchair opposition.

"All our (Northern Ontario) teams are pretty much evenly balanced," he told the Sudbury Star. "We might even have a competitive advantage. All of us are coming from a sport background. We all play basketball together. The only thing we have to work on is the strategy of curling."

Program booster Norm Gervais, owner of MEDIchair Sudbury, hopes that the 2012 Provincials will be held in Sudbury.

"The Sudbury Curling Club is wheelchair accessible and very familiar with wheelchair curling - plus they know how to run and host top-notch curling events." The idea to host the 2012 Northern Ontario Championship has been put to club president Bill Sloan and will soon be brought to the club's board, said Gervais.

Read the full report HERE

Curling around London Ontario  1/14/2011

The Accessible Sports Council for the London Ontario area, reminds wheelchair users that the Ilderton CC is the base for local curling. The program is run by coach Ernie Comerford, who was instrumental in establishing the sport in Alberta before relocating to Ontario.

Sessions are held Sundays from 11AM to 1PM. More details HERE.

Atlantic Canada camp at Crapaud Community CC this weekend 1/12/2011

Curlers from PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia will be attending a CCA sponsored development camp this weekend at Crapaud Community CC on Prince Edward Island. Attending will be members of the national coaching team Wendy Morgan and Dr. Laura Farres, Helen Radford, executive director of Curl Atlantic, as well as Team Canada lead Sonja Gaudet.

The Guardian (Charlottetown) reports that it will be the first inter-provincial competition for wheelchair curlers held on the Island. Activites run from 2.30pm Friday January 14, through lunchtime Sunday.

Marcus Sieger appointed Munich 2018 bid Ambassador 1/12/2011

Team Germany's skip, Marcus Sieger, has been appointed as an Ambassador for Munich's 2018 Winter Olympics/Paralympics bid. Munich, site of the 1972 Summer Games, is competing against Annecy, France and Pyeongchang, South Korea. The decision will be announced on July 6th, 2011.

"Shared happiness is doubled happiness" - Jalle Jungnell  1/11/2011

On the eve of their tie-break game at the Vancouver Paralympics, Sweden's Glenn Ikonen, who had been throwing 4th stones for struggling skip Jalle Jungnell, was suspended for failing a drug test.

The blood pressure medication that he had been taking for years across many tournaments, was through oversight or ignorance, in violation of the rules, and Glenn was not on the podium when Sweden ultimately placed 3rd.

"He didn't get a medal, so I cut mine in half, made molds of the halfs in tin, and glued them together," said Jalle.

"It just felt like the right thing to do. Glenn was so much a part of our medal team, it felt nice to give him a little piece of recognition.

"Don't misunderstand, I totally understand the decision to suspend him, and not give him a medal, but as a friend, and as friends, we all suffered with him.

"He was really happy when he got his half homemade medal, and shared happiness is doubled happiness."

Amen to that, Jalle.

Fredericton CC hosting New Brunswick's first wheelchair spiel 1/10/2011

Wheelchair curling is arriving in New Brunswick with the 106 year old Fredericton CC hosting its first wheelchaair curling spiel January 28-30. The club is located on the Exhibition Grounds at the Coliseum.

The field will be limited to 10 teams. Cost $40 per person. Contact Karen Malone 506-457-9802, or 506-459-3003. Full details on the flier HERE.

News from Sweden  1/10/2011

Jalle Jungnell, Sweden's long time skip, announced after Vancouver that he would be retiring from international competition. Fortunately for those who care about the sport at the World level, he has returned to his national side, this time as coach.

"Tomas Nordin (coach in Vancouver) would have been the ultimate choice for coach, we all feel, but he can not be away from work all the time that would be necessary," Jalle told me. "Tomas is still in the team, as an assistant coach during our training camps in Sweden."

Thomas Wilhelm, the husband of lead Anette (who also retired after Vancouver) is team manager.

The team is:

Glenn Ikonen, skip
Patrik Burman 3rd
Patrik Kallin 2nd
Kicki Uhlander lead
Gert Erlandsson alternate

"So, with three players from Paralympics, and me and Thomas as staff, it's pretty much the same faces, but at least myself in a different role," Jalle said.

"Kicki is not totally new, as she played for Sweden 2007 and 2008. Gert also played 2007 when there was a different team representing Sweden at the Worlds in Sweden.

"Where we stand ....? We don't know, and Scotland (Lanarkshire International) will be really interesting for us."

Jalle is one of the true gentlemen in our sport, happy to share his knowledge and insights, appreciating that at this stage of the sport's development, athletes must be ambassadors and evangelists even while competing.

He has this to say about funding.

"It was interesting to read about the huge funding Scotland and Canada, had and have. We Swedes are in a totally different league. We got aprox. $50.000 for preparations for Vancouver, and have a total budget for $25.000 this year.....and that includes the Prague Worlds.

"We are supposed to be a rich country, but we are definitely not spending the money on curling."

Despite this comparative lack of financial resources, Sweden have won two bronze medals at the Paralympics and a silver at the 2009 Worlds.

Penny Greely replaces injured Patrick McDonald on Team USA  1/9/2011

Penny Greely of Green Bay, Wisconsin, will replace California's Patrick McDonald on Team USA. Patrick announced he required shoulder surgery shortly after the USA selection camp last September, and would not be available for the 2011 Worlds in Prague.

Greely is a high performance athlete who won bronze at the 2004 Athens Paralympics at sitting volleyball, but attendance at the selection camp, which was in her home town, was her first exposure to competitive wheelchair curling.

Team leader Marc Deperno said: After a series of competitions and skill events, Penny Greely of Green Bay, Wisconsin has been selected as Patrick's replacement. Penny is a newcomer to the sport having only curled since September 2010 but has shown tremendous energy and commitment to her training regimen. We are excited to have Penny on board and are confident in her ability to assist Team USA with our goal of reaching the podium in Prague.

You can watch a WBAY TV feature on Penny at this link. As we reported last September (before Patrick's announcement) it was the degree of difficulty that drew her more to the game.

"I'm a really competitive person so this was right up my alley when I started playing."

Broken promises and hurt feelings in Manitoba  1/8/2011

It was no secret to anyone watching the 2010 Nationals in Kelowna last March that Chris Sobkowicz's Team Manitoba were an unhappy group.

So it came as no surprise to learn at the beginning of this season that long time teammates Chris Sobkowicz and Dennis Thiessen had decided to form their own teams and compete against each other for the right to represent Manitoba at the 2011 Nationals in Edmonton AB.

Thiessen's teammates, Effie Loubardias, Michael Alberg and Heather Mowat who travelled over 500kms for each team practice, raised funds to participate in spiels in Calgary and Ottawa, knowing and agreeing that this season would likely be a development year.

At the end of November, Dennis told them "I don't feel we as a team are ready for it yet," and that he would be playing with Chris Sobkowicz after all.

The lateness of his announcement meant there was no time for the remaining players to find a replacement, and Team Sobkowicz was declared Manitoba's provincial team by default.

Nothing wrong with wanting to win, but at what cost in broken promises? The hurt feelings that will be the legacy of preparations for the 2011 campaign are not likely to help development of the sport in Manitoba.

Calgary's Jack Smart chosen as CCA Male Athlete of the Week  1/7/2011

Jack Smart, 46, who skips out of the Ogden Legion CC in Calgary AB, is this week's CCA Male Athlete of the Week. He has represented Alberta in both wheelchair basketball and tennis in addition to winning four provincial curling titles.

If you could change any rule in curling, which one would it be, and why?
“I would eliminate the mixed-gender rule (for wheelchair teams); having to field a team with mixed gender can drastically hinder the development of regional grassroots programs that want to take the next competitive level. I do not understand why it is part of the game.”

Read the full profile HERE.

Chris Daw: "I sat out Paralympics for my wife and daughter"  1/4/2011

Curious about why Torino gold medal skip Chris Daw wasn't at the helm four years later in Vancouver? Tonight on Global TV News, Chris told reporter Mike McCardell that it wasn't becasue he didn't get along with the coach, or that he had a falling out with the program.

Daw: I didn't give any explanation why, because it was my, it was my personal need, you know, to be with my family at the time.

(McCardel: But there was no conspiracy. Why he wasn't at 2010; a matter of love, and the heart, and family.)

Daw: My wife was pregnant with our first daughter, and my wife said can I sit 2010 out for the Paralympics, and I said absolutely, anything for you, and for the birth of our daughter, and that's why we moved here and took the job.

McCardell: So that's why you weren't in the last Olympics?

Daw: And that's the absolute God's honest truth. That's why I wasn't in the last Paralympics. It's no conspiracy theory, anything like that. It's just my wife asked my sit one out and I sat one out for her and my daughter.

The news report ended with the studio anchor saying Chrs plans to be back for Sochi, 2014.

There is a video of his Global TV interview HERE


December 10, 2007 - Chris daw asked that he not be considered for selection for the 2008 World Championships, and requested a "temporary leave of absence" from the National Training Program through the end of the season. He cited personal reasons as well as increasing demands on his time as Development Coordinator for the CCA's Discover Curling initiative.

"This is entirely his decision and I have nothing else to say," said assistant coach Wendy Morgan

December 18, 2007 - Vancouver Sun reports: "I really like this (2008 Worlds) team ... they're very coachable, very easy to get along with, they're sponges for information and they're really flexible," said coach Joe Rea of Prince George. "There isn't an ego on the team and from a coaching perspective, that's a huge thing for me."

Chris Daw wins gold at 2008 Ontario Paralympics throwing 4th stones for Ken Gregory's Team Bradford, but loses to Chris Rees in 2008 Ontario Provincials.

October 22, 2008 - Jim Armstrong declared eligible to compete in WCF events.

October 30, 2008 - Chris Daw breaks hip in ATV accident.

December 17, 2008 - Armstrong chosen to skip Team Canada at 2009 Worlds.

March 24, 2009 - Chris Daw skips Newfoundland & Labrador at Nationals

May 29, 2009 - Canada's Paralympic team has Armstrong at skip, with Neighbour, Forrest, and Gaudet. Bruno Yizek added at official announcement October 8, 2009. Wendy Morgan says: "This has been a three-year journey in a comprehensive selection process. It has been a difficult process at times, as it is not exclusively a skill-based decision but encompasses team dynamics, peer assessment, performance in competition and positional aptitude."

July 2009 - Chris Daw moves to BC as manager of the Vancouver CC.

February 23, 2010 - Chris and Morgan Daw's daughter born.

Frank Duffy's funeral - January 8th  1/3/2011

A family member has asked me to post the funeral arrangements for Frank Duffy.

Frank's funeral will take place this Saturday, January 8th, at 9.30am in the Falkland Parish church with interment at Falkland Cemetery at 10.45am. Thereafter to Falkland Village Hall for lunch and refreshments and a chance to all meet up and celebrate his life.

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