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News archive - 2010
Wheelchair curling news from around the world


2010 Year In Review  12/28/2010

This website and associated blog saw 302 posts in 2010. To read #303 and our 2010 Year in Review, CLICK HERE

News from Northern Ontario  12/28/2010

Ten curlers and four coaches attended the CCA's Development Camp in Thunder Bay the week before Christmas. Fort William Coach Dave Kawahara reports that it gave "quite a boost" to everyone attending.

He was especially appreciative of the opportunity to hear the responses of people with the experience of Wendy Morgan, Daryl Neighbour and Laura Farres to the same questions that have been asked of the everyday coaches like himself. "The in-class sessions were very interactive and excellent questions and responses flowed. It was a very successful camp," he said.

Four teams are expected to compete in the N. Ontario Provincials at the Fort William CC in Thunder Bay, February 25-27. Sudbury has formed a team of athletes with experience in other disciplines, who Wayne Ficek, reigning provincial champion, feels will be strong competitors once they gain more on-ice experience.

The title this year, though, is expected to be a contest between two-time champions Team Ficek representing Kenora (though two of the team live in Dryden) and Thunder Bay's Carl Levesque who skipped a selected N. Ontario team at the 2008 Nationals.

Team Ficek, after claiming 4th place in 2009, went 3-6 last March. "As under achievers last year I expect if I can get back to the Nationals that only a play off position would be tolerable this year," Wayne told me today.

News from P.E.I.  12/28/2010

Amber Nicholson of the Journal-Pioneer reports that less than a year since Crapaud Community CC invited its first wheelchair users onto the ice, it is hosting an Atlantic Canada High Performance Wheelchair Camp January 14-16.

Eric Payne of Warren Grove, who curls Tuesday evenings at the club, believes the camp will be a significant steppingstone for wheelchair curling on P.E.I.

"It's going to bring attention to (the sport) here on P.E.I. It's going to help the sport itself grow in the Maritimes and it's going to help extend the network of wheelchair curling across Canada," he said.

Read the full report

The three-day High Performance Wheelchair Camp is geared toward athletes who have or plan to compete at the Wheelchair Curling Nationals. Camp activities include technical review on and off-ice, drills, strategy, mental preparation, team dynamics, video analysis and three games. Special guest instructors include national team coach, Wendy Morgan, and national team mental trainer, Dr. Laura Farres.

Curlers planning to participate in the camp are asked to confirm their attendance by Saturday, Jan. 1, via e-mail to hradford@nscurl.com. For more information contact Gayle Johnston at 368-1071.

Funeral for Frank Duffy December 30 12/28/2010 

Update 2.30PM PST - Wednesday December 29 - I have received an email saying that the funeral has been delayed, possibly until January 12. When I have more information, I will post it here.

Frank Duffy’s funeral is due to take place in Falkland Church (Scotland) on Thursday, December 30, at 10.30am before interment at the village cemetery at 11.45am.

Family and local reaction to his death can be read in this report from Fife Today.

Quiz Answers can be found HERE  12/28/2010
The 2010 Christmas Quiz  12/25/2010

Here's this year's Christmas Quiz. Answers in a couple of days.

1. From the list of people below, identify who

A) left a double world championship team to coach his national squad at the 2010 Worlds Qualifying

B) was deposed as skip of his Paralympic team by his 3rd.

C) withdrew from the Paralympics after failing a drug test.

D) described wheelchair curling as the roller derby of curling.

E) withdrew from his national team shortly after being selected, because of shoulder surgery.

a) Jim Armstrong b) Glen Ikonen c) Patrick McDonald d) Jens Jäger e) Per Christensen

2. Which current Team Canada Paralympian has 13 siblings? Jim Armstrong, Darryl Neighbour, Ina Forrest, Sonja Gaudet, Bruno Yizek.

3. Which Province held a 3 on 3 two team playdown to see who would claim the girl?

4. He provided online commentary at the Paralympics, and was inducted into the London ON Sports Hall Of Fame. Who is he?

5. Who said of skipping “It makes me think. If I don’t come off the ice with a headache, I didn’t think hard enough,” Chris Daw, Goose Perez, Rune Lorentsen, Michael McCreadie, Hak Sung Kim

 6. Which 4 sport Paralympian said prior to Vancouver: "It takes you right round the world, you see some amazing places. I'm away somewhere every month, it's a full-time job now." Sonja Gaudet, Jalle Jungnell, Jens Jäger, Tom Killin

7. True or False

a) feet may not touch the ice during delivery
b) a delivery is legal if any part of the rock is touching the guidelines either side of the centre line
c) at WCF events the time clocks stop during the one minute time outs when coaches may speak to their team
d) players may be substituted during a game but must play the same position as the person they replace

8. As hosts of the 2011 Worlds, the Czech Republic took one of the eight spots allocated to the points leaders at the previous three Worlds. Who lost out from automatic qualification?

9. The oldest athlete at the Paralympics was 75. What country did he curl for?

10. Which country arrived at the 2010 World Wheelchair Qualifying Championships, but was not allowed to play?

11.What continent saw it's first dedicated curling ice opened to wheelchair users?

12. Whose Canadian record will be snapped in March 2011 at seven consecutive National Championship appearances?

13. Pair the player with their team

A) Jostein Stordahl
B) Patrik Burman
C) Claudia Huttenmoser
D) Egidio Marchese
E) Katsuo Ichikawa
F) James Pierce
G) Mi-Suk Kang
H) Aileen Neilson
I) Marcus Sieger

a) Germany b) Great Britain c) Italy d) Japan  e) Korea  f) Norway g) Sweden h) Switzerland i) USA

14. Eight of the nine players listed in #13 share something in common. Who is the odd person out?

15. Why did power wheelchair users have reason to celebrate a 2010 WCF decision.

A very Happy Christmas to you all from Eric and Cate, and please consider making a donation towards the maintenance of this website by clicking on the link on the front page.

Team Canada to play in Lanarkshire International Jan 18-19  12/24/2010

Canadian national team coach Joe Rea will be taking his gold medal winning Paralympics team; Jim Armstrong, Darryl Neighbour, Ina Forrest, Sonja Gaudet and Bruno Yizek, to Scotland in January for a pre-Worlds warm-up.

Wendy Morgan confirmed today that despite apparently uninformed speculation, Jim Armstrong has both his passport and a ticket. The team will leave for Edinburgh January 16, returning January 20.

They will be playing in the Lanarkshire International, January 18-19, in Hamilton, organized by the South Lanarkshire Wheelchair Curling Club.

Teams competing include two each from Scotland, Germany and Russia as well as Canada, Czech Republic and Sweden.

Sweden will be coached by their long-time skip Jalle Jungnell, who retired from international competition as a player after wining bronze at the Vancouver Paralympics.

McCreadie wants back in  12/24/2010

Bob Cowan, who follows wheelchair curling in Scotland, has a blog post introducing Tony Zummack, but he buries the lede.

Michael McCreadie, who stepped up from 3rd to skip Scotland/Great Britain when Frank Duffy retired after Torino, and then took a sabbatical from international play after Vancouver, says he wants to be part of the new Scottish program.

Cowan quotes McCreadie: "I encountered Tony and his Alberta Team at the Richmond International in Vancouver in 2008. Alberta won the competition beating Jim Armstrong's team in the final.

"Tony comes to Great Britain with knowledge and experience of coaching wheelchair curlers at high level - his record speaks for itself. I am excited and feel sure he will bring his own methods, strategies and coaching expertise to enhance the skills of present and future players. This is a fresh start for all a journey which I hope again to be part of. The selection panel should be congratulated in their choice of coach."

Canada have tough opening at Prague Worlds  12/24/2010

Team Canada will face two fancied teams on the opening day of the 2011 World Wheelchair Curling Championships in Prague, Fenruary 21.

They open against China and then face USA.

Tony Zummack's Scotland open with a bye and then face Russia and the Czech Republic.

The full schedule can be found HERE.

Team Canada is expected to be announced early in January.

"The job I have been working towards for 16 years" Zummack 12/22/2010

Team Great Britain's new coach, Tony Zummack from Calgary Alberta, says he has always known that he wanted to become involved with coaching at the national level.

"You can't argue with the success of Canada's national program," he told me today. "Gerry Peckham and Joe Rea have been very successful, and you can't expect it to be dismantled to let someone else have a go. So when I learned about the British job last October, I decided to apply."

It was announced today that Zummack will replace Tom Pendreigh as the British Wheelchair Curling Coach, joining a team of five national high performance coaches. He has a four year contract that runs through the end of 2014, and will begin his duties in January.

He feels the experience he gained coaching Calgary's Team Smart, perennial Alberta Champions, over the past two plus seasons, has prepared him for the challenge.

"Team Alberta works just as hard and does the same things in training as Team Canada. What they don't have is the financial resources for sports psychologists and trainers and opportunities for travel.

"But what we have done in Calgary is a solid grounding for what needs to be done in a national program. I am just sorry that I won't be there to see them compete in Edmonton, but I know they are good enough to win a national championship, especially with the return of Bruno Yizek, who brings so many things to the team."

The Zummack's will be relocating to Stirling, Scotland which is north of both Glasgow and Edinburgh. Their daughter will transfer to Sterling University after her winter semester, but Tony is anxious to get to Scotland to meet his new team.

"They have a high performance squad that is about the same size as in Canada, and their team for the 2011 Worlds in Prague has already been picked, so it will be a case of getting to know them and seeing where we are," he says.

So your first job will be to pick a skip? "Who says I'll be the one to choose who skips?" he replied, which on reflection was a pretty athlete-centred answer.

British wheelchair curlers have under-performed expectations for several years now. "I'm not going to be making big changes right away," said Zummack. "It will take time to assess the players and the program. I'll have the summer to discuss with Performance Director Dave Crosbee what if any changes should be made.

"I'll also be travelling and watching other players. As a full-time coach part of my job will be talent identification. That's a lot easier in a geographically smaller country like Scotland, where it will be possible to drive to regularly see players in the way that Canada's size makes more difficult.

"I'm looking forward to working with Dave Crosbee and Rhona Martin, people with more international experience than I have. But I am confident that I can bring success to the program. Success brings funding and funding brings success. I am really looking forward to the challenge."

Alberta's Tony Zummack to coach Team Great Britain 12/22/2010

Tony Zummack, coach of Alberta Provincial Champions Team Smart for the past three seasons, has been chosen as the new Head Coach for British Wheelchair Curling. His was one of two non-UK appointments to the five person elite curling coaching team announced today that is expected to bring Olympic and Paralympic success back to British curling.

He replaces Tom Pendreigh who I understand did not interview for the wheelchair curling position. Great Britain/Scotland had 3rd, 7th, and 5th World Championships finishes since their silver in Torino, and posted a 3-6 (tied for worst) record in Vancouver.

Zummack, a professional curling and golf teacher, will give up his job as curling supervisor at the prestigous and private Glencoe Club in Calgary. He has worked with the players now skipped by Jack Smart since 2008 curling out of the Ogden CC, coaching them to a silver medal at the 2009 Nationals.

Team member Bruno Yizek has since won a gold medal at the Vancouver Paralympics, and Anne Hibberd played for Canada B at the recent Richmond Cashspiel.

His task in Scotland will expand beyond the role he played in Alberta, where he was the coach of a club team competing against other club teams. On the technical side it will be interesting to see whether Zummack continues Pendreigh's "deliver from the rings" experiment, and also whether he introduces, as he did in Calgary, the off-side brace, long championed on this blog and website as a tool for increased delivery accuracy.

"I am looking forward to the opportunity and challenge," he told me this morning.

Team Fitzgerald repeat as Nova Scotia champions 12/19/2010

Team Fitzgerald, with Laughie Rutt at 3rd, Trendal Hubley-Bolivar 2nd and lead Debbie Earle, defeated Team Brown 3-0 in a best of 5 series to represent Nova Scotia at the 2011 National Championships in Edmonton AB in March.

A good crowd was on hand to see Team Fitzgerald take an easy 9-2 victory in the first game with Fitzgerald stealing in the early ends and building up a big lead.

The second game came down to skip rocks with the score tied. Fitzgerald had the hammer and did a good job of keeping a path to the four foot open on the right despite a Brown rock buried, biting the four foot. Fitzgerald outdrew it and Brown could not duplicate the shot or remove it on his last stone, leaving Fitzgerald with a 5-4 win.

The third game was also close. tied 2-2 at the break. Brown took one with hammer in the 5th but gave up a deuce in the 6th. In the 7th Fitzgerald opted for a guard rather than an open tap to lie three. It was the decisive stone, as Brown's attempted draw rubbed it, coming up short and allowing Fitzgerald to steal two.

In the eighth end Brown, needing to score 3, had a shot buried dead on the button early behind two guards and a rock in the twelve foot in front of the t-line but well to the left. Fitzgerald then added to the rock pile in front by blocking more and more of the scoring area. Brown also contributed to the pile with a wrecked draw attempt to sit three.

On 3rd's last rock Fitzgerald asked for the take out of the Brown's second shot rock in the twelve foot, and Rutt's takeout rolled full four foot behind cover and ended Brown's chances, Fitzgerald winning 6-3.

Line score for each game ca be found HERE.

It is the fourth consecutive year that Fitzgerald will skip a rink at Nationals.

Armstrong remains on Team Canada after disciplinary review  12/19/2010

Here is the CCA's CEO Greg Stremlaw's statement concerning the review of Team Canada skip Jim Armstrong's actions for which he is expected to be sentenced in Seattle Federal Court on January 28th.

"As I think you are aware, a formal, comprehensive review of the situation was undertaken by a designated review committee including interviews with appropriate parties, consultation with stakeholders and a review and assessment of all pertinent and available documentation. As a result of this, the review committee did recommend a course of disciplinary action to the CCA which was approved and implemented. We feel that the disciplinary actions taken are fair and appropriate to the situation given the facts and information available to the review committee at this time. The disciplinary actions do include specific conditions, therefore, should any new facts or information become available which are relevant to this situation either before, during or after the January 28th court date, this matter can be revisited and further action taken if and as required.

"At this time, the athlete is still a part of the National Team program and will continue to train and compete as such."

Frank Duffy suicide before court appearance  12/16/2010

Jamie Beatson of the Scotsman.com reports that Frank Duffy took his own life, setting himself and his car alight in a car park prior to a scheduled bail hearing, after previously being arrested in connection with sex offences.

A court source said: "As far as we know he was accused of offences against young girls." The offences are alleged to have occurred between January 2000 and November 2010.

Read the report

Frank Duffy dead at 51: "the first wheelchair curling superstar" 12/16/2010

I received some very sad news this morning. Frank Duffy died suddenly.

"In my eyes he was the 1st wheelchair 'superstar' I will miss him an awful lot," Michael McCreadie wrote in an email.

Frank was born in 1959 and was first introduced to the sport of curling at age 12 on a frozen pond in Falkland in Fife. When he was 35, a 12 foot fall from a ladder left him with an L1 spinal cord injury and life in a wheelchair.

He had been a skilled curler before his injury and was involved in Scottish wheelchair curling from the beginning, skipping Scotland to two World Championship titles in 2004 and 2005 followed by a silver medal at the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games.

He also won many domestic championships and Sportsmanship Awards, coached at WCF camps, and following his retirement from international curling in 2006, chaired the Scottish Wheelchair Curling Association (2006-2008) and was a Director for British Curling from 2007-2010.

I met Frank at the Kelowna Cashspiel in 2005, which he won. He was a gentleman, soft-spoken but disciplined. I had, as an event organizer, staked out some wheelchair accessible refreshment venues, but Frank disapproved. He told me the game (back then) was one of draws and taps. Ironic that the iconic image of his career will be his look of anguish as he sees his Torino gold medal take-out shot miss by millimeters.

Frank was someone who put into the sport more than he took out, working not just when the cameras and note-pads were out, but serving to develop and direct the sport he loved.

He will be missed.

CurlBC shares $350K Olympic windfall  12/15/2010

CurlBC will share in a $350,000 windfall from 50/50 sales during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games by the Canucks for Kids Fund (CFKF) to support programs that benefit disabled athletes in British Columbia.

CurlBC CEO Scott Braley said, “These funds will enable Curl BC to develop an adapted curling physical education program with the goal to overcome participation barriers experienced by children with disabilities throughout BC.”

Read the full story HERE.

Ontario High Performance Development Camp Feb 11-12  12/14/2010

Ontario's CCA High Performance Development Camp will be held Friday and Saturday February 11-12, 2011 at the Peach King Centre in Grimsby during the 2011 Dominion Tankard Ontario Men’s Curling Championship.

The camp is intended for curlers who “have the potential to be recruited into the (post 2011) national pool…and they will be contacted for years 2012-2013 for future development and possible selection to the national team or to train with the national program at national training camps."

Application fee $50, maximum numbers 16, deadline Jan 7, 2011. Check HERE for more details.

Nova Scotia Provincials begin December 18  12/12/2010

The Nova Scotia Wheelchair Curling Championship will be held at the Lakeshore Curling Club. The first two games of the best of five series start December 18th at 10.00am and 3.00pm. Game 3 is December 19th at 8.00 am with games 4 and 5 if necessary, 1.00pm December 19 and 6.30 pm on the 20th.

Line scores from each game can be found on livecurling.com

Michael Fitzgerald, with Laughie Rutt, Trendal Hubley-Bolivar and Debbie Earle face Richard Brown, playing with Terry Cousineau, Steve Parfitt and Shannon Sweet, in a rematch of last year’s championship.

8th Annual Pat "O" Reid Memorial Bonspiel January 9th   12/11/2010

The 8th Annual Pat "O" Reid Memorial Bonspiel is planned for Sunday January 9, 2011 at the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club. It is open to able-bodied and wheelchair curlers in any combination.

Organizers hope to have a Competitive Wheelchair Division as in previous years. To accommodate those that couldn't make it to last year's event, the day has been moved to a Sunday, and the starting time moved up to 10:30 am so we can be finished around 7:00 pm for the convenience of out of town participants.

O.C.C. Team Ranking System points may be awarded to Competitive Wheelchair teams if numbers permit a separate Competitive Division. Full details HERE.

Curling promotes inclusion  12/11/2010

"In his capacity as board chair of the Richmond Centre for Disability, writes Don Fennell of the Richmond Review, "Vince Miele spends a lot of time promoting inclusion, independence and empowerment."

The article, a wrap-up of last week's Richmond International Cashspiel, features Vince Miele, who has toiled unremarked to bring a first class event to the lower Mainland, and never mentioned that he won a National Championship last March.

Curling is an easy sport to integrate wheelchair users, noted Miele. You can read the article HERE.

BC extends deadline for provincial championship entries 12/10/2010

CurlBC has announced that the entry deadline for teams wishing to participate in the Provincial Championships has been extended to Monday December 13.

The event is scheduled to take place in Kimberley February 3-6, which unfortunately is about as far away from the main body of wheelchair curlers as is possible without holding the event in Alberta.

An entry fee of $240 and the availability of six Paralympians, may have made a long distance journey over mountainous winter roads less than appealing to curlers who may have attended an event more centrally located.

CurlBC were slow to move away from a selection system, but it has worked well for them, with both National finalists last year coming from BC. Championships are spread around the province for the very best of reasons, and the organisers in Kimberley were very proud to be chosen to host the event.

But at this stage of the sport's development, does it make sense to schedule an event so far from potential participants that there may not be enough teams to make hosting worthwhile? CurlBC have already been forced to abandon its region based participation criteria for wheelchair curling.

On a different note, it will be interesting to see whether the Vancouver medalists choose to participate, and if so, whether they follow the example of the Scots, who tend to spread their experience over different teams in the interests of encouraging participation.

Issue 3 of Atlantic Canada's Wheelchair Curling News available 12/10/2010

Those living in Atlantic Canada have a monthly newsletter organised by Laughie Rutt. In the 3rd issue, there is information about the Mayflower CC access improvements, the CCA talent identification and development camp, Provincials at the Lakeshore CC. renovations at the Caladonian CC in Pictou NS, and a possible spiel in Frederickton at the end of January if there's sufficient interest.

You can access the newsletter HERE.

Those living within reach of Lower Sackville are reminded that all wheelchair users are welcome at the recreational Saturday afternoon on-ice sessions at the Lakeshore CC. Email Laughie for details.

British wheelchair curling funding cut in half  12/9/2010

The BBC reports that British Government funding through UK Sport for Olympic and Paralympic programs, while showing an overall increase, has concentrated on sports where there is the best likelihood of medals. Wheelchair curling has had its funding reduced from UKP 450,000 (C$ 711,000) to UKP 223,000 (C$ 356,000).

British performances have fallen below expectations at the last Worlds and Paralympics, and that disappointment is demonstrated in the 48% reduction in funding over the next four years. That is not to say that additional funds would not be made available if the team started appearing on the podium again, as a major source of funding comes from the National Lottery, which has recently generated higher than expected revenue.

The Scots squad that makes up the British team were generously funded as full time athletes leading up to the Paralympics. It will be interesting to see how this reduction affects the team's performance and what areas; financial support, travel, training courses, international competition, will be cut.

Read the BBC report for full details.

UPDATE: An anonymous blog commentator cites cites a post on the RCC website that British curling will receive £2,288,900 from UK Sport for the period between now and the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2014, which "more than doubles the funding British Curling received in the previous four-year cycle."

They do not cite a source, nor do they contradict the BBC report that funding for wheelchair curling has been slashed.

Gerry Peckham, Canada's National Program Director, said news of the cut if true, was "Tragic news for such a strong wheelchair curling Nation."

As for Canada, he said, "We have maintained our funding level subsequent to 2010 which is fabulous considering there are no more sponsor dollars coming our way [winter sport] via VANOC. The challenge for curling has always been to ensure we get our fair share of the funding pie. Our biggest road block is the fact that as a sport we only account for 3 medals total."

Saskatchewan announces team for 2011 Nationals  12/9/2010

Saskatchewan announced one change to the team that will make the province's third appearance at the Nationals, to be held in Edmonton AB March 20-27.

The team, that will represent the Callie CC out of Regina, is Darwin Bender (Regina), Gil Dash (Wolseley), Terry Hart (Regina), Marie Wright (Moose Jaw) and Calvin Bird (Regina) who replaces Del Huber. The coach is Lorraine Arguin (Moose Jaw) assisted by Bob Capp (Regina).

Saskatchewan tied for 5th with a 4-5 record at last year's Championships in Kelowna, BC.

Halifax's venerable Mayflower CC now accessible 12/8/2010

The 105 year old Mayflower Curling Club in Halifax, Nova Scotia, has installed an accessible washroom, and a ramp and lift allowing wheelchair users access to the ice for the first time.

The improvements are part of the Halifax 2011 Canada Games capital improvement plan. Laughie Rutt, three time provincial champion, threw out the first stone.

Former club president Paul McDonald told The ChronicleHerald.ca the $68,000 in upgrades signal a new era at the club.

"We’re going to serve a new group within our community and it’s a valuable group. These upgrades provide ease of accessibility for current and future members and athletes visiting the club."

The improvements also assist spectators and volunteers at events, he said.

You can read more HERE and HERE

CCA in quandary over 2011 Worlds selection 12/7/2010

Contrary to rumours circulating at Richmond last week, there has been no final decision on who will represent Canada at the 2011 World Championships in Prague, February 21st to March 3rd.

Wendy Morgan told me that the decision had not been finalised and would require CCA approval. So, presumably, would any team selection where the CCA is picking up the tab. Greg Stremlaw, CEO of the CCA, confirmed today: "A final decision of the team that will represent Canada at the 2011 WWhCC will likely be made by the end of this month."

National program director Gerry Peckham has in the past shown a reluctance to change a winning team, and under normal circumstances there would be no expectation of changes to the five who won gold at the Paralympics last March. Jim Armstrong's legal problems complicate things, however.

The CCA and the major funders for the national wheelchair program, Sports Canada and Own The Podium, have yet to decide whether Jim's actions as outlined in his plea of guilty to distributing pills with an intent to deceive, presented to a Seattle Federal judge, "reflect detrimentally upon the image of the National Team Program, CCA or Canada." Do the offenses to which Jim has admitted, constitute grounds for removal from the national program?

The CCA is in a quandary. They are obviously reluctant to give up on a person considered instrumental to Team Canada's success at the Worlds and Paralympics, especially as Jim has intimated that his actions will be seen differently when he is free to offer a mitigating explanation for the admissions in his plea, presumably after sentencing on January 28th.

The CCA can delay deciding whether Armstrong should still qualify for national program membership and benefits, but the practicalities of travel arrangements for the World Championships in Prague, Feb 21 - March 3, mean that a team must be chosen before then.

It is possible that if Jim removes himself from consideration for Prague, or if the CCA considers it too great a risk to select someone at the mercy of a US Federal judge for his freedom, a team selection decision could be made independently of a national program status decision.

Jim could take the long term view here, helping the CCA by saying that he won't go to Prague, but defending himself and his status in the national program when he feels free to do so.

Whatever the decision, Greg Stremlaw says, "I can assure you that the CCA will definitely be ready for the WWhCC and ongoing analysis and plans are well underway." It is confidence echoed by coach Joe Rea who told me recently that the team is prepared for any eventuality.

BC holding its National Program development camp Dec. 11/12 12/6/2010
This weekend it will be BC's turn to host one of the series of talent identification and development camps sponsored by CurlBC the CCA under its national wheelchair curling program. The camp will be at the Richmond CC December 11-12.

Regional coach Al Moore told me that invitations were sent "to virtually everyone we could think of outside of the paralympic group, which has a separate training program."
Utica CC hosting camp for disabled veterans  12/6/2010

Marc DePerno, National Director of Outreach for Wheelchair Curling for the U.S. Curling Association, is organising a wheelchair curling camp for disabled veterans Curling Camp at the Utica Curling Club, in Whitesboro. NY. Sunday and Monday, Dec. 13-14. Eight wounded servicemen from Illinois, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin will participate.

“We are honored to introduce America’s heroes to the sport of adaptive curling, and will provide additional training should they wish to compete on the Paralympic level,” DePerno said. [source UticaOD.com]

Team Scotland newcomers profiled  12/5/2010

Team Scotland newcomer Gregor Ewan says he wants Scots skip Aileen Neilson's job. He was interviewed with club and now national teammate Michael McKenzie by Dave Edwards in today's The Press and Journal.

Dufftown-based Ewan told Edwards: “Winning the British championships with the Moray club last weekend was pretty special but being chosen to represent Scotland in the world championships is up there as well.

“The next step is the Olympics. My goal was to get to the world championships, win gold over the next couple of years then reach the Olympic Games.

“I am skip for Moray and, although Aileen Neilson is the Scotland skip, I intend to challenge her for that honour. To be asked to play for your country in any capacity is a great honour. When you are a kid growing up pulling on that Scotland jersey is everyone’s dream." Read more.

It's all Canada in the final of the Richmond International  12/4/2010

Canada A, the gold medal Paralympic team, beat Canada B 6-4 in today's final of the Richmond International at the Richmond (BC) Curling Club. Canada A established a big early lead with a 4 in the 3rd end, but Gerry Austgarden's Canada B side had a double takeout opportunity at the bell to tie the score. They settled for 3 and the $600 second place prize money.

Canada A donated half of their $1,00 purse back to the Richmond Centre for Disability as seed money for next year's tournament.

Canada A#  2 0 4 0 1 2 0 X - 9
Canada B    0 2 0 2 0 0 3 X - 7

The two Korea teams (Samantha Sui played lead and Bruno Yizek played 3rd for Korea B) were tied 3-3 when the bell rang after 6 ends. They played an extra (7th) end and Korea A stole a another single to take 3rd place by a score of 4-3.

Korea A   0 1 1 0 0 1 - 1 - 4
Korea B# 1 0 0 1 1 0 - 0 - 3

In the final round robin draw in the morning, Canada B, despite losing to Korea A, qualified for the afternoon final by their tie-breaking win over Korea B earlier in the tournament.

Draw 7 - 9.30am December 4

Korea A # 3 0 0 1 0 1 1 X - 6
Canada B  0 1 1 0 2 0 0 X - 4

4C's #       0 0 0 5 1 0 X X - 6
Richmond RCD 3 1 2 0 0 4 X X - 10

Evergreen 0 1 2 0 0 0 X X - 3
Korea B   1 0 0 2 1 1 X X - 4

Bye - Canada A

Table after round robin play

Canada A  - 6-0
Canada B  - 4-2
Korea B   - 4-2
Korea A   - 3-3
RCD       - 2-4
4C's      - 1-5
Evergreen - 1-5

Richmond International Day 3  12/3/2010

Canada's A team finished their round robin play unbeaten at 6-0, shutting out Canada B, their closest challengers, 7-0 this afternoon.

The final round robin draw will be played Saturday morning with the final, between the top two teams, contested at 1.30PM

Chris Daw was unable to play this afternoon as his baby daughter was taken into hospital. In light of his family emergency it is unlikely that he will play Saturday.

Draw 5 - 9.30 am December 3

Canada A # 1 0 5 0 4 0 X X - 10
Korea B    0 1 0 1 0 1 X X - 3

Korea A     2 1 0 1 2 1 X X - 7
Evergreen # 0 0 1 0 0 0 X X - 1

4C's #    1 1 0 2 1 0 0 X - 5
Canada B  0 0 4 0 0 2 1 X - 7  

Bye - Richmond RCD

Draw 6 - 1.30pm

Canada A #  1 1 1 1 2 1 X X - 7
Canada B    0 0 0 0 0 0 X X - 0

Korea A #    1 3 0 0 2 1 0 X - 7
Richmond RCD 0 0 3 1 0 0 1 X - 5

4C's #  0 1 0 0 2 0 X X - 3
Korea B 1 0 1 2 0 2 X X - 6

Bye - Evergreen

Table after 6 Draws - one to go

Canada A  - 6-0
Canada B  - 4-1
Korea B   - 3-2
Korea A   - 2-3
4C's      - 1-4
Evergreen - 1-4
RCD       - 1-4

Richmond International Day 2  12/2/2010

Draw 3 - 9.30 am December 2

Canada A # 4 4 0 2 1 1 1 - 13
Evergreen  0 0 5 0 0 0 0 - 5

Richmond RCD #  0 0 3 0 0 2 X X - 5
Canada B        1 1 0 2 1 1 X X - 6

Korea A #  0 1 0 1 0 3 0 X - 5
4 C's      1 0 3 0 1 0 1 X - 6

Bye - Korea B

Draw 4 - 1.30pm

Canada A #   0 1 6 0 2 1 X X - 10
Richmond RCD 1 0 0 2 0 0 x x - 3

Korea A   0 0 1 0 0 1 0 X - 2
Korea B # 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 X - 4

Evergreen  0 1 0 0 1 1 0 X - 3
Canada B # 1 0 2 4 0 0 1 X - 8

Bye - 4C's

Richmond International Day 1  12/2/2010

Canada's gold medal Paralympic team began the 4th Annual Richmond International Cashspiel with two wins on the first day of round robin play.

Draw 1 - 9.30am December 1

Canada A # 0 0 4 3 1 2 X X - 10
Korea A 2 2 0 0 0 0 X X - 4

4C's 0 0 1 0 1 0 X X - 2
Evergreen # 1 1 0 1 0 0 X X - 3

Richmond RCD 0 1 0 2 1 1 0 X - 5
Korea B # 2 0 2 0 0 0 2 X - 6

Bye Canada B

Draw 2  1.30pm

Canada A 0 1 0 2 1 0 1 - 5
4 C's # 0 0 3 0 0 1 0 - 4

Evergreen #  1 0 0 1 0 0 2 X - 4
Richmond RCD 0 1 2 0 1 2 0 X - 6

Korea B # 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 x - 3
Canada B 1 0 0 2 1 2 0 X - 6

Bye Korea A

Scottish team announced for 2011 Worlds in Prague 12/2/2010

The team that will represent Scotland at the 2011 World Championships beginning February 21 in Prague sees two newcomers, Gregor Ewan and Michael McKenzie, join Aileen Neilson, Angie Malone and Tom Killin.

Gregor and Michael are from Moray in the north of Scotland, and played on the team that won last weekend's British Open Championship over Aileen Neilson's Braehead rink. Interesting that the announcement on the Royal Caledonian CC website (Britain's equivalent to the CCA) is titled 2010-11 Scottish Wheelchair Curling Association National Team selection.

Scotland sends its national team to the Worlds, but competes at the Paralympics as Great Britain. Qualification for the 2014 Sochi Paralympics depends on performance at the next three World Championships.

All the Scottish curling team coaches' contracts expire this month, and while it is thought that present wheelchair coach Tom Pendreigh is interested in a job, it may not be with the wheelchair team. For an insight into the politics surrounding Scottish curling's administration, see Bob Cowan's December editorial.

Gregor Ewan beats Aileen Neilson for 2010 British Open title  12/2/2010

Ten teams competed last weekend for the 2010 British Open title. The three day event in Kilmarnock, Scotland, comprised two pools of five teams. Aillen Neilson skipped a Braehead team that was unbeaten in Pool A after a 10-3 win over second place Gregor Ewan's Moray rink with three wins. Angie Malone topped Pool B with Paul Webster 2nd. Tables after round robin play are HERE. Use links on left of page for line scores of all the matches.

Malone and Ewan won their semis and Team Ewan got off to a fast start in the final with single point steals in the first three ends. An accurate last stone draw pulled Aileen Neilson's team within one at the break, and a raised takeout for 2 by Neilson put the teams level after 6. Neilson stole a single in the 7th for her team's first lead.

In the final end Michael McCreadie, playing 2nd for Neilson, drew to just behind the tee line and a succession of short stones and guards allowed the stone to stay in place. However a last stone guard drew just a fraction too far and this gave a narrow window of opportunity to Gregor Ewan who executed a fantastic hit and stay for two and the title. [event report]

Richmond International Cashspiel begins Dec. 1st  11/30/2010

The 4th Annual Richmond International Cashspiel begins 9.30 am Wednesday December 1st at the Richmond CC sponsored by the Richmond Centre for Disability. Team Canada's gold medal team will be competing for the first time since Vancouver, and possibly for the only time before the 2011 Worlds in Prague next February. Korea are fielding two teams, an American team from Portland Oregon's Evergreen CC have traveled north, and Chris Daw has his much anticipated return to the ice on the 4C's team.

Canada A play Korea A in the opening draw. Draw times are 9.30am and 1.30pm with the final between the top two teams after round robin play scheduled for 1.30pm, Saturday December 4.

Event details and links to the Draw Schedule are HERE.

Results will be posted as and when available. If anyone attending cares to send photos I'll post those too. (Please include names!)

Scots take to the road  11/28/2010

The Scottish Wheelchair Curling Association is planning a series of Roadshows this season, travelling to various clubs describing all the competitions and pathways available for wheelchair curlers and coaches to advance their skills.

First stop was last Saturday at the Borders WCC in Kelso where SWCA Chair Judy Mackenzie and Players’ representative Michael McCreadie talked about the new Skills Awards and the Shotmaker initiative, before taking players and coaches onto the ice for some practical tips.

This initiative is a good demonstration of what can come from empowering players to help guide the sport. Established Scottish players see it in their interest to grow participation. Wheelchair curlers have formed their own clubs within clubs, as have some in Canada, the better to organise and advertise their activities. At the Star Refrigeration National Pairs event, most of the established Scottish players paired with less experienced partners.

Canadians obviously face distance challenges for it to be easy to travel as wheelchair curling evangelists, but they can perhaps learn something from the player inspired initiatives underway in Scotland to nourish the game at the grassroots.

Sonja Gaudet keynote speaker - Dominion Club Championship 11/24/2010

Team Canada lead and double Paralympic gold medalist Sonja Gaudet was the keynote speaker at the opening banquet of the Dominion Club Championship at the APM Centre in Cornwall, PEI.

She spoke about reintroducing sports into her life after her spinal cord injury, what it meant to compete at World events, and also gave a plug for integration of wheelchair users into curling club activities.

Team Canada's Joe Rea wins coaching excellence award 11/23/2010

Joe Rea, coach of Canada's gold medal Vancouver Paralympic team, was one of 43 Canadian coaches honoured with a 2010 Petro-Canada Excellence in Coaching Award. This year's awards recognize coaches who have helped their athletes achieve top results at recent World Championships and/or Olympic and Paralympic Games. Joe also received an award last year for his team's 2009 World Championship performance.

USA skip 'Goose' Perez living strong in this profile  11/23/2010

Team USA skip Augusto 'Goose' Perez has other high performance sports interests beyond curling, as this profile from the Livestrong Blog shows. He also has a very photogenic family.

Comment from Team Canada coach Joe Rea   11/22/2010

Team Canada coaches this season are undertaking two tasks. The first, to prepare a team that will travel to Prague next February to defend their World title and hopefully gain their first points towards qualifying for the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, Russia. The second, to organise a series of talent identification and development camps across the country, giving those wheelchair users not currently part of the national program, an opportunity to demonstrate their skills.

Whenever there is a post about Team Canada the comments tend to concentrate on personalities: why has this person been favoured over that, why isn't this person being considered, my dad's bigger than your dad and so on. To 'clear up any confusion', National Team Coach Joe Rea writes:

"Just to clear the air about who attended the Richmond Camp last weekend: it was Jim, Darryl, Ina, Sonja, Bruno, Chris Sobkowicz, Gerry Austgarden, Gary Cormack, Whitney Warren and Frank LaBounty.

"These players were invited to camp because of their record in Nationals last season and/or being part of the last cuts to Team Canada.

"We will also have a second team competing in the Richmond (RDC) spiel at the beginning of December consisting of Gerry Austgarden, Anne Hibberd from Calgary, Whitney and Frank. Bruno Yizek will start playing with a second Korean team, which is a player short.

"We are continuing with the regional camps in each province to help identify potential Team Canada pool participants over the balance of this season. I hope this clears up any confusion.

Attendance at the provincial camps is at the discretion of provincial, not national coaches. Although CCA guidance was for provincial champions and perhaps one or two additional players to be invited, different provinces have taken different approaches to who and how many should attend.

"By the end of the season," Joe Rea told me, "we will have seen most if not all players with the skills and attitude to become part of Team Canada. If anyone feels they have been overlooked, they must ask their provincial coaches to recommend that we take a look at them. Players are asked to make a big commitment, and one of the things these provincial camps allow us to do is explain what is expected. We understand that players seen at the beginning of the season will not have had the same opportunities to practice as those seen later, but the evaluation process is not just about statistics."

In addition to the Richmond spiel in December, Team Canada hope to take a team to Scotland in the middle of January, though whether that will be the medal team or a development team hasn't been decided.

At the end of the season, after the provincial camps, there will be a large Team Canada training camp of players who will form the core group for the 2014 Paralympics, though it will still be possible to break into this group next season.

"Standards of play have risen significantly over the past several years," says Joe Rea. "We need players who have the time and commitment to put in the necessary work. We also need players who understand the game, and have what it takes to be a team player. The aim is for an open and honest evaluation to make the Canadian Team.”

The CCA, to their credit, have made an effort this year to give everyone who's shown ability, an opportunity to impress national coaches. The path is clear - convince your province's wheelchair curling co-ordinator that you should attend a camp in your area, and then show who you are and what you can do. You may not make it, but at least you'll have had the opportunity to try.

Quebec take Cathy Kerr final in extra end  11/21/2010

Quebec stole a point from USA1 in an extra end of the final to win the 6th Annual Cathy Kerr Memorial in Ottawa.

Quebec were down by 3 in the eighth but sitting 3 when skip Ben Lessard drew for the win with his last stone. The rock went through the house, forcing an extra end.

In the 9th USA1 had their own chance to win with their last rock. Quebec had a biter counting shot stone back 12, and USA skip Goose Perez had only to reach the rings for the victory, but his draw came up short. Goose's team lost their lead, Tammy Delano, after the first match. She had a nasty fall when her chair tipped over backwards. Sue, a an inexperienced but very game substitute, joined Jimmy Joseph and Bob Prenoveau to finish out the tournament.

Earlier USA1 had extended their unbeaten record with a semi-final win over Bruce Cameron's home-ice squad, while Quebec extended their perfect record with a win over Ken Gregory's Bradford rink.

Bradford later beat Cameron to take 3rd spot.

In the recreational division, Team Michel finished 1st, over Beaudin, then Quebec and Wong-Sing.

More details if and when available.

Unbeaten USA 1 and Quebec head into playoffs at Cathy Kerr  11/20/2010

Wheelchair curling's largest event, the 6th Annual Cathy Kerr Memorial Bonspiel, with ten competitive teams and four more playing in the recreational division, is underway in Ottawa, Ontario.

The competitive teams, playing for $1400 prize money, were divided into two pools, and after the four game round robin, Team USA 1 and Team Quebec are unbeaten going into tomorrow's playoff rounds.

USA 1         8 points    Quebec   8 points
Bradford      5 points    Cameron  4 points
Thiessen      4 points    Rees     3 points
Newfoundland  3 points    Ilderton 2 points
Fraser        0 points    USA 2    2 points

On Sunday USA 1 plays Cameron, with the winner playing the winner of Quebec vs Bradford for the title.

Sunday Draw

Team USA 1 vs Team Cameron
Team Bradford vs Team Quebec
Team Thiessen vs Team Rees
Team NFL vs Team Ilderton
Team Fraser vs Team USA 2

Recreational Division

1st – Team Beaudin
2nd – Team Michel
3rd = Team Quebec
4th – Team Wong-Sing

Recreational Sunday Draw

1st vs 2nd place
3rd vs 4h place

Team Canada to attend first camp since Vancouver gold  11/18/2010

Canada's gold medal winning team, plus late cuts to the squad Chris Sobkowicz and Gerry Austgarden, will be attending their first camp since the Vancouver Paralympics, this weekend in Richmond, BC.

National team coach Joe Rea and sport psychologist Dr. Laura Farres of Mind In Motion Consulting Inc. will be at the camp. Dr. Farres article "Preparing Mentally for Major Events" can be read HERE

WCF Head Umpire offers tips for team timekeeping  11/17/2010

Linda Kirton, Head Umpire at the 2010 Worlds Qualifying in Finland, offers her tips for team timekeeping in competitive events HERE.

Team Canada take to the ice at Richmond Cashspiel Dec 1-4  11/17/2010

The Richmond Centre for Disability is sponsoring their 4th Annual International Bonspiel from December 1-4, at the Richmond CC.

Team Canada coaches are forming two teams and Wendy Morgan confirmed that Jim will be playing. Initial team listings show Jim, Darryl, Ina, Sonja and Bruno on one team, with Gerry Austgarden returning to the fold, skipping Frank LaBounty, Whitney Warren and Alberta's Anne Hibberd. Coach Joe Rea may juggle those line-ups during the competition.

Korea, who featured in last year's event, are bringing seven players and three players from the Evergreen CC in Portland, Oregon, will compete in a team skipped by Vancouver's Bob MacDonald. One of the Americans, Stephen Hart, recently returned from a spiel in McCall, Idaho where he was the only wheelchair user at the event.

Manitoba's Chris Sobkowicz's team includes Gary Cormack, Chris Daw and Corinne Jensen. Three skips and a lead will be fun to watch. Host Team R.C.D. includes past and present Canadian National Champions Jacqueline Roy, Samantha Siu, Vince Miele, Rich Green and Tom Parker. A seventh team will be made up of those attending but not selected for the other sides.

Play begins on Wednesday, December 1st, and concludes with the playoffs on Saturday, December 4th. Prizes will be awarded to the top three teams with $1,000 being awarded to the first place team. There will also be $50 prize money awarded for each win during round-robin play.

CLICK HERE for more event details.

Aussies win first competitive game  11/15/2010

Now that Australia has its first dedicated curling ice at the Ice House in Melbourne Docklands, long time Aussie curling advocate James Oastler has been organizig a wheelchair curling team.

The group - skip: Glen Bond, 3rd: Sarah Miller, 2nd: Kon Kiryakudya and lead: Danny Chaplin (positions will change) have been practicing regularly and this past Monday evening won their first game at the Melbourne Summer Curling competition.

Playing an experienced able-bodied team, they got off to a great start with a 3 in the first and followed with a steal, only to fall behind 5-4 in the 4th. The rallied, however, to record the first win by an Aussie wheelchair team, 7-5.

Weekend Wrap-up - 32 teams plus 2 pairs competing  11/15/2010

With ten teams in Lohja Finland finishing the Worlds Qualifying, seven teams in Utica NY for the US Open, and six in Prague for their Open (information previously posted) three other tournaments this weekend made it the busiest three days of wheelchair curling since the sport began.

In Bern Switzerland, five teams competed for the 2010 Rolli Trophy. Jens Jager's new Mainhattan Ice Wheelers won the event. His team from the Schwenningen CC: Heike Melchior at lead, Uwe Raschke 2nd, and Martin Schlitt at 3rd. Teams from Lausanne, Basel, Bern and Wetzikon competed. Results are available HERE.

In Calgary, the Alberta CF and the Calgary Wheelchair Curling Association sponsored Alberta's first Cashspiel, a four team double round robin event at the Ogden Legion CC. Team (Jack) Smart (5-1), with Bruno Yizek, Ann Anne Hibberd, Bridget Wilson and Martin Purvis took the $400 first prize, which they donated back to the club towards next year's event which they hope to schedule in October.

Last year's Team Saskatchewan skip Darwin Bender (4-2, $300) brought provincial teammates Gil Dash, Marie Wright and Terry Hart. Michael Alberg (2-4, $200) who is hoping this year to break Chris Sobkowicz monopoly on the Manitoba provincial title, brought Dennis Thiessen, Effie Loubardias and Heather Mowat.

A second Calgary team skipped by Dale Keith (1-5, $100) with George Assenheimer, Curtis Junor, Wanda Pizzinato, and Jolly Knowles completed the field. and also donated their prize money.

Jim Armstrong and Darryl Neighbour won the mixed Golden (2on2) Stick Spiel in Maple Ridge, BC. Gary Cormack partnered Chris Daw in the other wheelchair pairing of the 14 team field. Results HERE.

Next week is the Cathy Kerr Memorial Bonspiel in Ottawa; with 15 teams expected.

Norway continue 17-0 run with win at Prague Open  11/14/2010

Norway won their third successive tournament and notched their 17th consecutive match without a loss, by taking the Prague Open this weekend. Norway's coach Thoralf Hognestad, who took back the reins this season after a year away from the game, took the opportunity to introduce two new players to international competition; Tone Edvartsen and Terje Rafdal. They played with the experienced back end of Rune Lorentsen and his vice, Jostein Stordahl.

Germany, skipped by Marcus Sieger, who threw 3rd stones, were tied with Norway and had hammer going into the final end, but surrendered a single for their only loss, 6-5.

The Italians, though winless, had three of their matches decided by a single point.

Final Standings

1. Norway 5-0
2. Germany 4-1
3. Czech Rep2 3-2
4. Czech Rep1 2-3
5. Poland 1-4
6. GS Periscopio (ITA) 0-5

Results can be found HERE.

Goose Perez skips USA 1 to US Open title  11/14/2010

Team USA skip Goose Perez skipped USA 1 to the US Open title at Utica, NY. Playing with national lead Jaqui Kapinowski at 3rd, and with newcomers Laura Schwanger and Penny Greely, the Perez team finished with a decisive 5 win and one tie record.

USA 2, Bradford and Quebec all finished on 7 points, the order decided on tie breaks.

Draw 6

USA #1:  11221001: 8
Toronto: 00000210: 3

USA #2:   20004021: 9
Cape Cod: 04110100: 7

Bradford: 01131010: 7
Quebec:   10000105: 7

Draw 7

USA #2: 3104010X -: 9
Quebec: 0010102X -: 4

USA #1:   4020330X -: 12
Cape Cod: 0103001X -:  5

Ottawa:  222030XX: 9
Toronto: 000101XX: 2

Final Standings

1. USA #1 (5-0-1, 11 points)
2. USA #2 (3-2-1, 7 points) *beat Bradford and Quebec head-to-head
3. Bradford (2-1-3, 7 points) *tied Quebec head-to-head but won more ends
4. Quebec (3-2-1, 7 points)
5. Ottawa (3-3-0, 6 points)
6. Toronto (1-3-2, 4 points)
7. Cape Cod (0-6-0, 0 points)

US Open Day 2  11/13/2010

USA 1 scored 8 points in victories over Ottawa (8-3) and Quebec (8-5) to go top of the table on the second day of the US Open in Utica, NY. Players on the current USA national team have been divided between two teams at this event, with 'Goose' Perez and Jaqui Kapinowski in USA 1, and Jim Pierce and Jimmy Joseph in USA 2.

USA 2 beat Ken Gregory's Bradford team 9-2, and tied 5-5 with Chris Rees' Toronto.

Quebec's Ben Lesard, with a win and a loss before their third gae of the day, fell behind Bruce Cameron 5-4 at the break after leading 4-1, but regrouped with a steal of 3 that held off Cameroon's Ottawa team's late rally for an 8-7 victory.

Bradford's game against Toronto showed how unpredictable wheelchair curling can be. Bradford began with three singles, then gave up a 6 to fall behind 3-6 at the break, only to tie the game 8-8 with a 4 in the final end.

Newcomers Cape Cod with David Palmer at skip, had never been asked to play three games in a day against experienced opposition, and gave up some very big ends. They could take some comfort from their third game where they kept the 5s and 6s off the scoreboard and held Bradford to 8 points over seven ends.

There will be a live webcast of Team USA 1's final games Sunday at 8.30am and 12.45pm local time.

Results Draw 3

USA #2:   3 1 1 0 3 1 X X - 9
Bradford: 0 0 0 2 0 0 X X - 2

Quebec:   1 5 0 3 5 1 X X - 15
Cape Cod: 0 0 1 0 0 0 X X - 1

USA #1: 2 2 2 0 0 2 X X - 8
Ottawa: 0 0 0 1 2 0 X X - 3

Draw 4

Ottawa:    6 2 0 3 0 5 X X - 16
Cape Cod:  0 0 1 0 1 0 X X -  2

Toronto:  0 0 0 6 1 0 1 0 - 8
Bradford: 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 4 - 8

USA #1: 2 0 1 3 2 0 0 0 - 8
Quebec: 0 2 0 0 0 1 1 1 - 5

Draw 5

USA #2:  1 0 2 0 0 0 2 0 - 5
Toronto: 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 - 5

Bradford: 0 1 3 2 0 1 1 X - 8
Cape Cod: 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 X - 3

Quebec: 1 0 3 0 1 3 0 0 - 8
Ottawa: 0 1 0 4 0 0 1 1 - 7

Current Standings:

USA #1:    3-0-1
Quebec:    3-1-0
Bradford:  2-1-2
Ottawa:    2-3-0
Toronto:   1-1-2
USA #2:    1-2-1
Cape Cod:  0-4-0

US Open Day 1  11/13/2010

The US Open in Utica, NY, features three US based teams and four visiting Canadian club teams.

Team USA are searching for a replacement for Patrick McDonald, and expect to experiemnt with line-ups over the weekend. For the two Friday draws Goose Perez skipped USA 1 and his regular vice-skip Jim Pierce skipped USA 2.

They faced each other in the opening draw, and USA 2 got off to a promising start when they stole a point in the opening end, but lost 10-4.

Toronto beat Cape Cod 9 - 2. It was Cape Cod's first competitive game away from home ice. Ken Gregory's Bradford saw off the challenge of their province's champions, Bruce Cameron's Ottawa.

USA 1 * 0 1 1 0 4 0 1 3 - 10
USA 2   1 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 -  4

Quebec had a bye. Here are the line scores from the other morning games.

Toronto * 1 4 0 0 2 1 1 X - 9
Cape Cod  0 0 1 1 0 0 0 X - 2

Bradford * 1 2 1 0 1 0 1 0 - 6
Ottawa     0 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 - 3

In the afternoon USA 1 only managed a 5-5 tie with Bradford, while Ottawa with a steal of 2 in the second, closed out a 7-4 win over USA 2 with another pair in the final end.

Quebec opened their account by hammering Toronto with a 4 in the 1st end. They added 8 points in the final two ends for a 15-6 win.

Bradford * 1 0 2 0 0 1 0 1 - 5
USA 1      0 1 0 1 2 0 1 0 - 5

Ottawa * 1 2 0 1 0 1 0 2 - 7
USA 2    0 0 1 0 2 0 1 0 - 4

Quebec * 4 0 3 0 0 3 5 X - 15
Toronto  0 3 0 2 1 0 0 X -  6

Ice conditions are reportedly good, with 4 feet of curl on a t-line draw.

Technical problems interfered with the live webcast Friday, but organisers hope that future games featuring USA 1 will be available HERE.

Esquimalt CC welcomes wheelchair curlers  11/12/2010

Esquimalt CC, on Bc's Vancouver Island, is making big efforts to open its doors to wheelchair users. They have a large ramp to get up to ice level and just this week have installed a large electrically operated sliding door to enter out onto the ice.

Last weekend they held their inaugural 2on2 stick bonspiel and wheelchair user Dave Graves, who curls out of Juan de Fuca but practices at Esquimalt regularly, paired up with Ned Nedzelski, finishing with a 2 and 2 record.

USA's Goose Perez takes a fair play message to school  11/12/2010

Team USA's skip Augusto 'Goose' Perez to a very personal message of hard work and fair play to the Mount Anthony Union Middle School last Wednesday. He was invited to speak to students by teacher Brian Keller.

You can read what he told the students, what's happening in the photo and what is on the piece of paper he carries when he trains, by reading Daawson Raspuzzi's report in the Bennington Banner.

China and Russia qualify for 2011 Worlds  11/12/2010

China and Russia qualified for the 2011 World Championships to be held next February in Prague, by emerging from two rounds of Page playoff games today.

China had topped the table after round robin play, and faced Italy, who also had a 7-1 record, in the 1v2 game. It was quickly decided. Italy stole 1 in the first and then gave up a 7 in the 2nd, and could never recover, losing 10-4.

China *   0 7 0 1 1 0 1 x - 10
Italy     1 0 1 0 0 2 0 x -  4

China therefore qualified, while Japan waited to play the winner of the 2v3 game for the second qualifying place.

Russia, who had lost their chance to play in the 1v2 game yesterday when they were beaten by Japan, faced japan again in the 3v4. This time they asserted themselves early, stealing a single in the 3rd and a big 4 in the fourth to lead 6-1 at the break. Though Japan came back with a 4 of their own, they were always struggling to catch up though Russia needed their skip's last rock draw for a single point with hammer, to seal the 9-6 win.

Russia *  0 1 1 4 0 2 0 1 - 9
Japan     1 0 0 0 1 0 4 0 - 6

That set up a Russia. Italy match for the second qualifying place. They had met in the first round robin draw, a game that produced the highest points total of the tournament when Italy took two in the final end to win 11-10.

Today's game was much tighter. Russia started with hammer, took a single, then stole a point and added to their lead by scoring 2 for a 4-1 lead at the break. Italy scored the next three points, including steals of one in the 7th and 8th to force an extra, and were in with a chance with their last stone. Unfortunately for Italy, substitute skip Edigio Marchese's final rock was heavy, and Russia took two for a 6-4 win.

Russia *   1 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 2 - 6
Italy      0 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 - 4

China and Russia join hosts Czech Republic, Canada, Sweden, Germany, USA, Scotland, Norway, and Korea at the 2011 World Wheelchair Curling Championships in Prague, February 21-March 3.

The 2011 Worlds will be the first opportunity for countries to register points towards qualification for the 2014 Paralympics in Russia. The top nine point scorers over the next three World Championships, will join hosts Russia in Sochi, 2014. This makes it additionally heartbreaking for Italy today, losing such a tight game to a country that does not need to qualify in 2014. Of course Russia, relative newcomers to the sport, will need all the top level competition it can gain if they hope to do well on home ice.

France, who attended the Qualifying tournament but were not allowed to compete because of a dispute between the French Curling Association and their governing body the French Federation of Ice Sports, nevertheless were able to play their games as friendlies.

Any country affiliated to the World Curling Federation was eligible to play in this Qualifying Tournament, so France did not take a place that would otherwise have gone to another country.

Worlds Qualifying - Day 5 - China top the table 11/11/2010

China faced unbeaten Italy in the morning draw of the last day of round robin play at the 2010 Worlds Qualifying in Kohja, Finland, with the winner assured of a place in the Page-playoff top two.

China had their perfect record broken by great double take-out that earned Russia a 5-4 win yesterday. Today Italy had no answer to a relentless series of single point steals, China winning 7-1.

In the other morning match with top spot implications, Russia began promisingly against Japan, stealing one in the first end and leading 8-6 after 6 ends. Japan outlasted them, however, taking 3 to go ahead, and sealing the 10-8 win with a final end steal. That meant Russia, who had a final round bye, would need help to claim a top spot.

Switzerland, who had to win both games to have a realistic hope of a tie-break entry to the playoffs, began the day with an 11-3 win over Latvia.

Denmark played Finland, stole 3 in the 1st and 2 in the 5th to go out to a 6-3 lead. The host side tied the game with a steal in the 7th, but Denmark steadied themselves to post their second win, taking 3 in the final end to win 9-6.

In the afternoon draw, China beat winless Latvia 12-1 to ensure they would finish top of the table. Russia, and Italy with just one loss, were assured playoff places, which left Japan and Switzerland fighting for the remaining playoff spot.

If Japan beat Finland they would claim it. if they lost and Switzerland beat Italy, Japan and Switzerland would play each other in a tie-break.

Japan started their match by giving up 4 in the 1st. They levelled the score at the break, but Finland, who'd had a disappointing tournament as far as results went, salvaged some pride by taking the last 6 points in a 10-4 win.

Switzerland, with everything to play for, faced Italy and though tied 2-2 at the break, faded to a 7-3 loss. “We feel a little bit sad because the game against Italy was our last chance,” said Swiss vice-skip Claudia Hüttenmoser. “They played better than us and that’s life."

This means the top two teams, China and Italy, will play for the first of two qualifying places. The loser of that match will then play the winner of Japan/Russia, for the second qualifying spot.

"But who wins the tournament? They play all week, and there isn't a final final?" someone asked. No, and that's why it's called a qualifying tournament and not a bonspiel.

Final table after 9 draws

China 7 - 1
Italy 7 - 1
Japan 5 - 3
Russia 6 - 2
Switzerland 4 - 4
Slovakia 3 - 5
Denmark 2 - 6
Finland 2 - 6
Latvia 0 - 8

Tommorrow noon local time

Game 1 - 1 vs 2 - China vs Italy - winner qualifies for 2011 Worlds
Game 2 - 3 vs 4 - Russia vs Japan

Tomorrow 4.30 local time

Loser Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 - winner qualifies for 2011 Worlds

Line scores from the games are available HERE. Click on date.

Hopefully at least one of the first round of playoff games will be on Sheet B so we can watch a webcast.

Worlds Qualifying - Day 4 - Italy still perfect after beating China 11/10/2010

The top of the table teams continued to win in the morning draw at the Worlds Qualifying tournament in Lohja, Finland, but at the end of the day, only Italy (6-0) remained unbeaten. They have adjusted to the loss of their skip, Andreas Marchese, who had to return home before play began, and as the week has progressed, they have looked more and more comfortable.

Russia arrived 10 days early and their pre-tournament training seems to have paid off. They saw off winless Latvia 8-3 in the morning. Denmark fought to the end of their 7-10 loss against Japan, but a steal of two in the 8th was not nearly enough to overcome Japan's steal of 5 in the 2nd.

China posted a 4 and a 5 on their way to a 12-5 win against probably the most experienced skip on the ice, Switzerland's Manfred Bollinger.

Slovakia is appearing for just the second time at a world level event. In 2008 they lost all their games, but this morning they posted their second win, 8-7 after stealing a point in the last end against hosts Finland.

The marquee match-up in the afternoon draw was Russia with one loss against previously unbeaten China. China had the hammer and took one in the first and added a stolen single in the second. Russia pulled level with 2 in the 3rd fell behind by one in the 4th and pulled ahead with 2 in the fifth.

The 6th end saw a rare blank, but China could only claim a single point to level the scores after 7. Russia won the match, and second place in the standings, with a double takeout to win 5-4 to the cheers of a large group of Russian spectators.

Italy, who had a bye in the morning, buried Finland 11-1 in 7. Japan kept their playoff hopes alive by beating Slovakia 7-5, though the Slovaks gave them a scare by stealing the first two ends.

Denmark finally posted a win, 9-6, outlasting Latvia by stealing 3 in an extra end.

Italy and Russia are guaranteed a playoff spot and China could still take first place. Japan and Switzerland are also still in contention for the playoffs.

On current form, Japan and China both look to win at least one game tomorrow, which will force Switzerland to win both and beat Italy in the final draw to have a chance of playing on Friday.

Standings after Draw 7

Italy 6 - 0
China 5 - 1
Russia 6 - 1
Switzerland 3 - 3
Japan 4 - 2
Finland 1 - 5
Slovakia 2 - 5
Denmark 0 - 6
Latvia 0 - 6

Some random notes: teams are drawing to the button for hammer, and all but Denmark have missed the rings, thus reverting to a toss. Today Latvia came within 3.2 cm, and Finland threw within 2 cm of the pin.

It has been snowing and outside temperatures are around freezing. Apparently it's not a pleasant walk from the arena to the dining hall.

No one is complaining about the ice, which has maintained decent speed and curl.

There haven't been any time clock penalties, though Russia has had time expire before their final rock has stopped, and Switzerland has run the clock down to less than 10 seconds. The clock operators and on-ice player assistants are from the facility's teaching program. They are training to be Sports Leaders, are young, enthusiastic, very cooperative and quick learners.

Thursday's games begin 9am local time. A live webcast from Sheet B can be seen HERE.

Line scores from the games are available HERE. Click on date.

2 on 2 stick tournament at Maple Ridge November 13-14  11/9/2010
A 2 on 2 stick curling tournament will be held at the Golden Ears CC in Maple Ridge BC this weekend November 13-14.

Wheelchair and able-bodied teams will compete together. Darryl Neighbour is scheduled to compete again with his Team Canada skip Jim Armstrong in what would be Jim's first appearance since his legal problems became public.
2010 Rolli Trophy takes place in Bern Nov. 13-14  11/9/2010

Jens Jäger, no longer skip of the German national team, will nevertheless be competing with his Mainhattan Ice Rollers for the 2010 Rolli Trophy in Bern, Switzerland, this weekend.

He will face teams from Wetzikon, Basel, Lausanne, and Bern.

Six teams competing in the Prague Open November 12-14 11/9/2010

Four international teams are traveling to the Czech Republic this weekend for the 2010 Prague Open, November 12-14.

Norway's coach Thoralf Hognestad is introducing a new front end to international competition. Tone Edvartsen will play lead and Terje Rafdal will play 2nd. Long time skip Rune Lorentsen and Jostein Stordahl round out the team.

Team Germany, having displaced Paralympic skip Jens Jäger, will be skipped by Marcus Sieger, who will continue to play 3rd stones, while Jens Gabel throws last. Stefan Deuschl plays lead and Christiane Steger plays 2nd.

Paolo Ioriatti skips an Italian squad with a female, Gabriele Dallapiccola, at 3rd. Poland last appeared in a World event in the 2008 Qualifiers, but none of that team are playing in Prague. Of the four playing now, Eugeniusz Błaszczak played for Poland in 2006 joined by Maciej Karaś in 2007.

The Czechs field two teams in preparation for deciding their squad as hosts of the 2011 Worlds next February.

Team line-ups can be seen HERE

Seven team field for 5th Annual US Open in Utica Nov. 12-14  11/9/2010

Seven teams have signed on for this year's US Open, held for the 5th time in Utica NY from November 12-14. The format is a full 6 game round robin.

Team USA is fielding two teams and will be searching for a replacement for Patrick McDonald, out for the season after shoulder surgery. Cape Cod CC is sending a team, and four Canadian teams round out the field: Team Lessard (Quebec), Team Bradford skipped by Ken Gregory, Team Toronto and Team Cameron (Ottawa).

There will be a live webcast of all Team USA 1's games, who open against Team USA 2 at 9.30 Friday morning. The final draw is 12.45pm Sunday.

The draw schedule is HERE.

Wheelchair bonspiel in Calgary this weekend Nov. 12-14  11/9/2010

Calgary's Team Alberta is hosting a bonspiel on their home ice at the Ogden Legion CC. Team Smart will face Team Keith, also from Calgary, and Team Alberg from Manitoba and Team Bender from Saskatchewan.

It will be a double round robin of 6 end games, beginning noon on Friday November 12, with the final beginning 10am on Sunday.

Fredericton CC "coming on fast."  11/9/2010
Fredericton CC President/Manager Ed Haggerty writes to say that his club is "coming on  fast" in its plans to develop wheelchair curling in New Brunswick. It is the only wheelchair accessible curling facility in the province and is holding a wheelchair bonspiel the last weekend in January (28-30).

The club, founded in 1854, was somewhat unceremoniously ejected from its location at the Fredericton Golf (and previously Curling) Club in 2007, but has relocated in the Coliseum on the historic Fredericton Exhibition Grounds.

The move has allowed wheelchair access, and this year the club ran a clinic for wheelchair users and prospective coaches, attracting 26 potential recruits and 18 possible coaches. There are currently a core of five regular wheelchair users who come to the club once a week.

The club is actively looking for curlers, and with the Nationals looking for a tenth provincial team, prospects are excellent if you live in New Brunswick.
Worlds Qualifying - Day 3 - Italy and China unbeaten  11/9/2010

Experience is beginning to tell at the midway point of Worlds Qualifying in Lohja, Finland. Italy (5-0) "seem invincible" according to one experienced observer, and stand in skip Edigio Marchese is doing an excellent job guiding the team. This morning's 6-4 win over Japan featured a steal of 2 in the final end of what had been a very tight contest.

Several teams have been running their time clocks dangerously close to zero. Japan had only 6 minutes left for their final end against Italy, and even though skip Katsuo had 3 minuets to deliver his final stones, he did not look comfortable. He had to make full 8 foot with his last rock to beat Italy, but his stone overcurled, or perhaps he was tight to the broom.

Italy faced an easier challenge against winless Latvia (0-4) in the afternoon, winning 9-3 after leading 7-0 at the break.

Japan(2-2) recovered from their morning loss to take an important win over Switzerland (3-2), a team that will challenge them for a playoff place. Again steals in ends 3 and 4 were the difference in a 6-3 win.

Switzerland, with hammer, had earlier spotted Slovakia (1-4) to a 3-0 start, but ended comfortable winners 9-3.

Unbeaten China (4-0) had a comfortable 9-2 win over hosts Finland in the morning draw, but were almost shocked by Slovakia in the afternoon, giving up a 5 in the 4th and falling behind 8-2. They then regrouped, taking 2 with hammer in the 6th, and stealing 3 in the 7th to pull within one. Another steal of 3 in the eighth gave them a 10-8 win.

Slovakian skip Radoslav Duriš had a chance with his first stone of the final end, to throw a guard which would have made it very difficult for China to remove it to score. Unluckily for Slovakia, the attempted guard was hogged and removed. Slovakia still had a chance with their final stone - an open hit, or draw to China's shot stone would have kept their lead intact, but Radoslav was a little inside on his release, his stone over-curled, and China completed a dramatic come back.

Slovakia is one of three teams on 4 losses, which I'm sure Vic Rauter would agree in an eight game tournament will be too many to contend.

Finland (1-3) had beaten Russia three times in three attempts in pre-tournament friendly matches, so were especially disappointed to lose 10-7 to their neighbours. Finland took 4 in the 7th to go ahead 7-6, but then gave up 4 for the loss.

The morning's excellent quality webcast (with commentary) saw Russia play Denmark. The Danes ("we're red. we're white. we're dynamite") have an experienced coach (Per Christensen, who coached Norway at the Vancouver Paralympics) yet they are the only team using what must surely by now be the discredited near t-line delivery zone Great Britain/Scotland adopted.

The additional distance meant their lead found it hard to reach the rings, the front even with hammer became cluttered, and Denmark looked every bit an 0-4 team. In what became an all too typical situation, in the 2nd end Danish skip Kenneth Ørbaek had few good options, facing 4 with his last rock. He could have tried a runback of his own stone near the house and centre line, which had he hit it would have at least cut down on the damage. He chose a wide come-around that went through the house.

Webcast times don't work very well for those of us in the Pacific time zone, but anyone watching who cares to send in a report is very welcome.

It had snowed and froze before Day 2 and despite conscientious wheel cleaning efforts, the occasional rock would hit a piece of the gravel from the paths outside; just one of the worries for ice-makers Jorgen Larsen and local assistant Mika Ollikainen.

Standings after Draw 5

Italy 5 - 0
China 4 - 0
Russia 4 - 1
Switzerland 3 - 2
Japan 2 - 2
Finland 1 - 3
Slovakia 1 - 4
Denmark 0 - 4
Latvia 0 - 4

Line scores from the games are available HERE. Click on date.

A live webcast from Sheet B can be seen HERE

Jaqui Kapinowski, Team USA lead, is 3rd in NY marathon 11/8/2010

Team USA lead Jaqui Kapinowski finished 3rd fastest of the women competing in the hand-cycle division of the NY City Marathon yesterday, finishing the 26+ mile course in 2.14.04.

You can read a feature article about Jaqui HERE

Worlds Qualifying - Day 2  11/8/2010

Hosts Finland, who had a bye in the opening draw when France were unable to compete, faced Switzerland in Draw 2 of Worlds Qualifying. They gave up a steal of 2 in the 1st then exchanged 2's for Swiss 3's, losing 9-6.

Russia opened with 4 stolen points against Slovakia, then saw their lead disappear into a two point deficit as Slovakia stole singles in four consecutive ends. Russia took 2 in the 8th and stole a 7-6 win with a single in an extra end.

Denmark posted their second loss despite steals in the first 3 ends against Italy, who recovered from 5-3 down after 6, by stealing a 6-5 win.

Japan had a comfortable 10-3 win over Latvia and China had a bye.

In the afternoon session hosts Finland, despite spotting Latvia to a 5 point lead, all on steals, stole the last four ends to win 7-5. Latvia looked as though they would pull out a win down one in the 8th, with a spectacular double raise. But Finnish skip Tuomo Aarnikka managed a freeze with his final stone and Aleksandrs Dimbovkis' last rock draw went two centimeters too far to force an extra end.

Italy continued their perfect start with a win over Slovakia, 8-5. Behind by three after two ends, they drew level on two impressive last stones by stand-in skip Edigio Marchese in the 3rd, and earned their win without the hammer.

Russia found themselves down one without hammer after 7 ends against favoured Switzerland, but with a steal of one in the 8th and another in the extra, posted a 9-8 win.

China had a comfortable 10-2 win over Denmark. Japan, scheduled to play France, had a bye. The French team, though disappointed not to be playing, have remained in Lohja and are enjoying the experience of watching international level wheelchair curling.

Denmark's Jorgen Larsen is the ice-maker, and ice on the second day, with the arena slightly less cold, was a little quicker and still with plenty of curl. Teams appear happy with the ice conditions.

Table after 3 draws

Italy 3 - 0
China 2 - 0
Russia 2 - 1
Switzerland 2 - 1
Finland 1 - 1
Japan 1 - 1
Slovakia 1 - 2
Denmark 0 - 3
Latvia 0 - 3

Full results can be found HERE. Click on the date to see line scores.

Worlds Qualifying underway in Finland - France withdraws 11/7/2010

Ten teams hoped to compete in the Worlds Qualifying tournament in Lohja, Finland, for the final two places at the 2011 Worlds in Prague next February. However, a surprise ruling by the French Federation for Ice Sports (FFSG) meant that France has withdrawn, and their game against hosts Finland has been declared void.

France were apparently caught in a legal dispute between the French Curling Association and the FFSG and were unable to produce the required "permission to compete" form prior to the tournament starting, and therefore had to withdraw.

Those allowed to play include three teams (Japan, Italy and Switzerland) who competed at Vancouver Paralympics, plus China who were at the last Worlds, Vancouver 2009.

Italy lost their experienced skip, Andrea Tabanelli, who had to return to Italy today. Edigio Marchese moved up to skip and alternate Emanuale Spelorzi played 2nd. Despite the rearrangement, Italy took 2 in the final end to overcome Russia in a slugfest that saw 3's scored in 6 of the 8 ends. Marat Romanov is skipping and throwing 3rd stones for Russia in a change from the website listing.

Japan had won a warm-up tournament at Wetzikon (SUI) but started cold against China who raced out to a 5-1 lead after 3, with steals of two in the 2nd and the 3rd ends. Japan came back wth three in the 4th, but never quite caught up; their two in the final end leaving them on the short end of a 7-6 result. Japan's skip at the Paralympics, Yoji Nakajima, had been registered as alternate, but played 3rd.

Denmark attempted to steal their way back into the match against Switzerland but failed to overcme the 5 points stolen by the Swiss, losing 9-6. The Danes were the only team throwing from the rings rather than the hogline, as Scotland throw under Coach Pendreigh. Denmark's coach is Per Christensen who was in charge of Team Norway last season.

Slovakia registered their first World level win, breaking Latvia's promising start by taking 5 in the fifth and then stealing their way home to an 11-3 victory.

Ice conditions for the only draw of the day were consistent and swingy, but heavy. Hog to hog draw times were 12.5 seconds, and the ice makers hope to quicken the ice for subsequent draws. Heavy ice meant that most of the front end play across the sheets was in front of the house.

The better teams at the Paralympics were calling for front stones into the rings, so we'll see whether quicker ice or changed tactics make a difference as the week continues.

Line scores from the games are available HERE.

A live webcast from Sheet B can be seen HERE

Tom Killin and James Brown repeat win at GB National Pairs 11/4/2010

The Star Regrigeration National Pairs Championship took place in Braehead, Sctland, last weekend. Twenty-three teams entered and played in four groups.

Games were five ends, each player throwing just three stones per end. Top finishers in their groups played a "high road" semi-final and final, while those finishing second played a "low road" semi-final and final.

2009 champions Tom Killin and James Brown faced Aileen Neilsen and Alison Cloudesley for the trophy, and despite giving up 4 in the 3rd, won with a steal in the 5th and another in the extra end 6th for a 5-4 victory.

In the consolation bracket Mike Mckenzie and Steve Sutherland beat Ian Donaldson and Brian Douglas 7-2, stealing the last three ends.

There is lots of information on the RCCC website with draws and scores, but not who played with the skips - needlessly thrifty, I'd say.

Saskatchewan's Marie Wright is CCA female athlete of the week 11/3/2010

Marie Wright has been named the CCA Female Athlete of the Week. She curls out of the Hillcrest Curling Club in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and has represented her province at the last two national championships.

You can read about her life on and off the ice HERE

Worlds Qualifying begins Nov. 7 - top two to Prague in 2011  11/3/2010

The World Wheelchair Curling Qualifying Tournament begins Sunday November 7th at the Kisakallio Sports Institute in Lohja, Finland. Ten teams will compete: China, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Russia, Slovakia and Switzerland.

They will play a full round robin, the top four teams entering a Page playoff on Friday November 12. The top two finishers join the top eight from the 2009 World Championships, and will compete in at the Worlds in Prague, February 21-March 3, 2011 for Sochi Paralympics qualifying points.

Italy and Japan both played at the Vancouver Paralympics, on the basis of prior World Championship performances. Andrea Tabanelli's Italy (5-5) placed 5th in Vancouver but though they also tied for 5th at the 2009 Worlds, they lost out after a series of multiple tie-break games, falling to 9th and thus forced to requalify. They bring their Vancouver team to Finland.

Japan were the hard luck team of the 2008 Worlds, when they were relegated by a couple of centimetres on a pre-event draw to the button tie-breaker. The unfairness of their fate led to a tie-break rule change. This year's Qualifying will be Japan's second attempt to regain their status as a World Championship team.

Japan's skip in Vancouver, Yogi Nakajima is listed as alternate for Finland, with his 3rd Katsuo Ichikawa, moving up to skip. Takashi Hidai, at 75 the oldest Paralympian, did not make the trip  Japan is the only team slated to start two women, copying Canada's all-female front end.

Switzerland's very experienced skip, Manfred Bollinger, will have a new 2nd, Hieronymus Liechtenham. Daniel Meyer replaces Anton Kehrli at lead. Four teams list two female members (SLO, RUS, JAP, FIN). Denmark and France travel with just four person teams.

China bring in a new female at 2nd, Guanqin Xu, the only change from the team that befuddled Canada during round robin play at the 2009 Worlds.

Denmark welcome back Per Christensen as coach. Per was in charge of Norway at the Vancouver Paralympics, but moved back to his home team when coach Thoralf Hognestad returned to his old job.

Russia arrived in Lohja at the end of October and have been practicing with their neighbour and host Finland. They are hoping to regain World Championship status after being relegated with Japan at the 2008 Worlds, though coach Vladimir Shevchenko told the WCF media he "believes that the level in this year's tournament will be extremely high and making it to the top two will be very challenging."

Finland began wheelchair curling in 2007 and have never made it to a Worlds, though they did have an upset win over Team Canada in Prague last November.

France, Latvia and Slovakia round out the field.

Tournament organizers plan live webcast coverage of games on Sheet B. The first game on Sheet B is China vs. Japan, starting 4pm local time on Sunday November 7.

The draw and game schedule can be found HERE and other event information can be found HERE.

You can see results from all major championships from 2006 by using the links on the events page.

It's a family affair at the Lennoxville CC  11/2/2010

Coach Dan Janidlo, who worked with Al Whittier to establish Quebec's first wheelchair curling program at the Lennoxville CC, has now moved to Montreal. That has not stopped his involvement at Lennoxville, however as he and two wheelchair users and their wives will be taking the two hour drive to attend Sunday practices.

He says: "In addition to an open invitation to all in wheelchairs who would like to try curling we are also inviting families who would like to try curling to come to the curling club."

A schedule of this season's practices is HERE and he asks that anyone interested call any of the people at the bottom of the sheet to ensure sufficient resources are available.

Team Canada news 11/1/2010

Team Canada members will get together the weekend of November 19-21 in Richmond BC for the first time as a group since their triumph at the Vancouver Paralympics. Chris Sobkowicz and Gerry Austgarden have also been invited to attend the training camp.

While there is inevitable speculation about the eventual status of Jim Armstrong given his legal predicament, the CCA's chief executive officer Greg Stremlaw confirmed with me today that Jim remains a member of Team Canada and eligible for selection to the national side.

"I can relay that the process related to Jim Armstrong and our review with multiple stakeholders is on-going," Stremlaw told me via email.

"If and when there is information which is to be shared with the public about this review, we will advise in a timely fashion.

"That said, I do not expect any developments in the next few days (so) therefore there is no change until such time as these procedures, as a minimum, have been taken."

Stakeholders in this context include Sport Canada, who fund the carding system, and Own The Podium who contribute money to the national program.

Jim has been taking the occasional practice at the Richmond CC, and is expected to partner with teammate Darryl Neighbour at the 3rd Annual Stick (2on2) Bonspiel at the Golden Ears CC in Maple Ridge BC November 13-14.

Speaking of Darryl, he joined coach Wendy Morgan in Winnipeg this past weekend for the second of Team Canada's nationwide tour of talent identification and development camps. Team Sobkowicz and Team Thiessen were joined by Northern Ontario champs Team Ficek for the weekend tryouts.

Katsuo Ichikawa's Team Japan wins Wetzikon International 10/31/2010

Twelve teams competed at the Wetzikon International this weekend in what for Japan, Switzerland, France and Italy was a warm-up for the World Qualifying Tournament in Lohja, Finland from November 7-12, 2010.

Deposed Team Germany skip Jens Jäger, who brought two 'Mainhattan Ice Wheelers' teams to Switzerland, was top of Group A, and faced Group B winners Team Japan skipped by Katsuo Ichikawa, in the final, losing 8 - 1.

The Zurich Caledonian Pipe Band led by Ruedi Attinger played at the closing ceremonies, rounding off a very successful tournament that will be repeated October 29-30, 2011.

The full scoreboard and teams members can be found HERE

Final Ranking - Team and skip

1. JWCA Japan / Katsuo Ichikawa
2. Mainhattan Ice Wheelers 1 / Jens Jäger
3. Team Italia / Andrea Tabanelli
4. Team Wetzikon 1 / Ivo Hasler
5. Limmattal / Max Brunner
6. Team Swiss / Manfred Bolliger
7. RC Beider Basel 1 / Fredy Borner
8. roll'in stones Strasbourg (Team France) / Andre Jouvent
9. GS Periscopio / Paolo Ioriatti
10. Mainhattan Ice Wheelers 2 / Caren Totzauer
11. SPORT DI PIU / Nicola Gaeta
12. CC Lausanne Olymp /Didier Recordon

Full house for 6th Annual Cathy Kerr Memorial Bonspiel 10/28/2010
A full slate of 10 competitive and at least 5 recreational teams will be appearing for the 6th Annual Cathy Kerr Memorial Bonspiel at the RA Curling Club in Ottawa, November 19-21, making it the largest wheelchair curling competition in the world.

They are competing for $1,400 prize money. The competitive teams, playing in two divisions of five and guaranteed six games are: USA 1 and 2, plus teams from Newfoundland, Quebec and Manitoba, and the five Ontario teams that competed for their provincial championship last season - Cameron, Fraser, Rees, Bradford and Ilderton.

Dennis Thiessen, long-time 3rd to Chris Sobkowicz, is skipping his own Manitoba team. Jim Primavera joins Team Bradford, replacing Katie Paialunga who is taking a sabbatical from full time competitive curling. Jim was one of the group of Ontarians chosen to form the original Canadian national team and has returned from a three year retirement to play with Ken Gregory.

For Team Bradford, Debra Karbashewski replaces coach Dennis Moulding, and will share duties with Carl Rennick.

Team Fraser has lost the services of Deb Shestalo this year due to medical issues. She has been replaced by Stephan Tom as the alternate.

At least 5 teams are expected to play in the recreational division. Former Team Quebec coach Al Whittier is bringing a team from his Lennoxville club, with other teams made up from members of the Capital Wheelchair Curling Club.
Double gold medalist Sonja Gaudet to host demo in PEI  10/28/2010

Sonja Gaudet, Canada's double gold medalist, will be traveling across the country to host a demonstration and instruction session at the Silver Fox CC in Summerside PEI.

The session will be held on Sunday November 21, from 1.30 to 4.30. Wheelchair users, potential coaches and helpers, family and friends are all welcome. Contact Gayle Johnston at 902-368-1071 for more information. You can download the event poster HERE.

Rainey and Douglas win S. Lanarkshire Pairs  10/27/2010

Gordon Rainey and Brian Douglas won the inaugural South Lanarkshire Wheelchair Curling Pairs competition, sponsored by Bell's Meat Pies. John Bell was on hand to present to present the trophy in what is hoped will become an annual fixture.

The event was reported by Bob Cowan who reminds me that the Star Refrigeration National Pairs Championship takes place this weekend, October 29-31, at Braehead. Twenty-one teams are taking part, playing in four sections. The teams and the draw are here. Play begins on Friday at 5.30 pm.

The top team from each section play semifinals at 12.45 pm on Sunday, with the final of the national championship scheduled for 2.30 pm. Second placed teams in each section play in consolation bracket.

WCF widens eligibility criteria to include non-wheelchair users 10/26/2010

At the World Curling Association's meeting in Cortina at the end of last season, a detailed document was presented covering classification rules for wheelchair curling. One of the deficiences it addressed was the absence of any procedure to appeal a decision by an authorised classifier to grant or refuse eligibility.

The document was referred back for further study and became official WCF policy in June.

A major change was to redefine wheelchair curling from a sport just for participants requiring a wheelchair for their daily mobility, to one that includes people with significant demonstrable impairments in leg/gait function - whether or not they use a wheelchair in their day to day lives.

This is a big step towards making the sport available to anyone unable to curl without a wheelchair.

Curlers currently classified as eligible under the old rules will not have to reclassify and there can be no appeal of a classification 24 hours after an athlete has appeared in a WCF sanctioned event. There are detailed procedures for appeals by athletes declared ineligible to play.

You can read the Classification Rules For Wheelchair Curling here.

Team Cameron get their banner 10/26/2010

Team Cameron, 2010 Ontario Provincial Champions, received their banner from Ian McGillis of the Ontario Curling Association earlier this month.

See blog for photo.

Armstrong plea agreements  10/26/2010
Last Thursday Jim Armstrong and his son Gregory signed agreements with the United States Attorney stating that they would plead guilty to distribution of fake Viagra and Cialis with intent to mislead or defraud.

Their separrate Plea Agreements can be viewed HERE.  They are publicly filed and are a matter of public record.

Each agreement is part of a "package plea agreement." This means that if either person withdraws their guilty plea, the "United States will withdraw from both Plea Agreements and will seek an indictment against both parties for all such crimes for which the United States has sufficient evidence."

The agreements detail what Jim and Gregory have admitted doing, the range of penalties, and the possible immigration implications, among other things.

They also state that Jim and Gregory each "entered into this Plea Agreement freely and voluntarily and that no threats or promises. other than the promises contained in the Plea Agreement, were made to induce (them) to enter this plea of guilty."
News report suggests reason behind Armstrong's guilty plea  10/25/2010

A report in today's Richmond News suggests that Jim Armstrong pled guilty to charges of distributing fake erectile dysfunction pills with intent to mislead or defraud, because it was a condition of his son Gregory receiving a plea agreement.

Reporter Alan Campbell writes: When contacted this week by the News, Armstrong declined to comment on the guilty plea until after the sentence is passed down in January.

Armstrong did indicate, however, that the U.S. prosecutor’s offer to reduce the charges against his son, Gregory, was conditional on Jim also pleading guilty.

This fits with an opinion expressed to me by Gerry Peckham that Jim "was put in an impossible situation and virtually had no choice."

The Canadian Curling Association’s chief executive officer, Greg Stremlaw, is quoted by the News as saying he was aware that Armstrong’s plea was struck in terms of his son’s charges.

“All of our athletes have a code of conduct and we’ll have to determine if (the guilty plea) impacts the codes of conduct in terms of the national team program."

You can read the story HERE

The two separate plea agreements dropped references to trafficking and recommended punishments at the low end of sentencing guidelines in return for guilty pleas and giving up the right to a trial. They are not binding on Judge Martinez, who will issue sentences on January 28th, 2011.

See earlier post and comments from October 21st.

Shotmaking skill is the focus in Scotland and Canada  10/24/2010

Michael McCreadie, though taking a break from international competition, remains very much involved in the sport. His latest project is a recently announced Shotmaker Competition, organized through the Scottish Wheelchair Curling Association.

The competition asks curlers to complete a series of drills at different locations, the highest scores to be submitted to the SWCA and a prize awarded for the player with the best cumulative score when adding their best result from each of three venues.

"The idea is to have a fun competition that raises awareness of shot-making that I think will carry over into regular play. If people practice specific shots their skills will improve, and so will their performance in games," Michael assured me.

"At the end of the season, not only will there be a winner, but the twelve best performances will earn an invitation to a Shotmaker event in Kinross."

The competition begins in November. You can read full details of the drills and the thinking behind the competition by downloading the aims, objectives and tests. You can register an interest in entering by filling out this form.

Though ambitious curlers will already throw a range of specific shots during practice, charted drills allow coaches to gauge progress and compare athlete performances. That is a large part of the thinking behind the Team Canada booklet just released by coach Wendy Morgan to assist in the talent identification and player development program that will be taking place in venues across Canada this season.

Athletes who think of themselves as national program candidates, will have the opportunity to display their skills by performing a series of drills described in the booklet.

I can see the utility of scored drills in bringing someone who might otherwise be overlooked, to the attention of coaches. And I concede to Michael that anything that encourages structured practice has to be a good thing, if you practice as you play, as I have warned previously. (3rd paragraph)

But I remain sceptical about how useful drill totals are in judging potential game performance. For one thing, players on a four person team have lengthy waits between pairs of throws.

Every coach I have spoken to say their players have an inflated opinion of how accurate they can be in competition. High practice percentages are rarely seen in game situations.

Yes, practice will improve performance and drills can offer a framework that can make practice more disciplined and more efficient. In the context of Michael's shotmaker competiton it can also be more fun.

But I would not weight the on-ice performance element of my team selection on drill scores. I'd want to know how curlers can throw under pressure; perhaps by choosing, unannounced, single shots from a game where the curler is told just before they throw that this shot will become part of their record.

If all shots are charted, no shot is special and if all shots matter, then none matter. Matches are not like that.

Team Canada honoured at CPC Gala 10/24/2010
Canadian Paralympic Committee yesterday honoured the Canadian Wheelchair Curling Team with the Best Team Award for winning Canada's second consecutive gold medal in the sport.

"These athletes made the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games a significant moment in Canadian sport history and reaffirmed to the world that Team Canada is a strong competitor," said Henry Storgaard, Chief Executive Officer for the CPC. "I am so pleased we could honour them here today and give them the recognition they deserve for their incredible accomplishments. By their excellence, they have raised the profile of the Paralympic Movement and have inspired a whole nation."

This is the first time CPC has developed its own awards to recognize the athletes at the national level. Sonja Gaudet attended the ceremony and accepted the award on behalf of the team from the CCA's  Chief Executive Officer, Greg Stremlaw.
2011 Women of Curling - glamour with a purpose  10/23/2010

The 2011 Women Of Curling calendar is now on sale with proceeds going to support spinal cord research. The campaign also hopes to raise public awareness of wheelchair curling.

Here, courtesy of The Curling News, are the 2011 Women of Curling:

December 2010: Colleen Jones NS
January 2011: Ashley Miharija ON
February: Cheryl Bernard AB
March: Chelsea Carey MB
April: Jill Officer MB
May: Kari MacLean ON
June: Sarah Wark BC
July: Andrea Leganchuk ON
August: Trica Affleck PEI
September: Sabrina Shibley ON
October: Kristy Jenion MB
November: Teri Lake NS
December: Darah Provencal BC

News from Japan  10/23/2010

Wheelchair curling reporter and supporter Yayoi Mashimo tells me that wheelchair curling associations in Asia are organizing a regional competition at the end of this month. The spiel will be in Harbin, China, one of only two Chinese cities with curling ice. Teams from China, Korea, and Japan will participate.

Next month the Japanese national team, from the Shinshu Chair Curling Club, will compete in the World Wheelchair Curling Qualification competition in Lohja, Finland from November 7-12.

Reports and photos from last year's Japanese National Championships can be seen HERE.

Photos of Team Japan taken at the Vancouver Paralympics by Yayoi's friend Mika Yamaguchi, who sadly lost her battle against cancer this August, can be seen HERE.

Saskatchewan selection and national development camp  10/23/2010

Deadline for applications to attend Provincial Team Selection Camp is November 12th, 2010. Saskatchewan Curling Association 306-780-9202 or 1-877-722-2875.

Five curlers will be chosen to represent Saskatchewan at the National Wheelchair Curling Championship March 20 to 27, 2011 in Edmonton, AB.

A CCA Talent ID/Development Camp will take place at the same time.

Date: November 27, 2010
Location: Regina – Callie Curling Club
Times: 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
Registration Fee: $30.00 (lunch & supper provided)

Athletes coming to the camp will be provided development sessions and evaluated on the following:

- Delivery Technical Skills and Shot Making Ability
- Game Strategy & Tactics
- Ability to work in a team environment

Full information is available HERE

Nine attend inaugural national talent identification camp  10/23/2010

The first in what is planned as a nationwide series of talent identification and development camps is taking place in Calgary, Alberta, this weekend. Team Smart, the 2010 provincial champions, and 4 curlers from Edmonton are taking part.

The camps are an attempt by the CCA to reach out across Canada to ensure that every talented curler has the opportunity to make themselves known to those in charge of the national team.

As part of that effort, national coach Wendy Morgan has put together a booklet outlining "National Wheelchair Program Expectations" that includes an extensive variety of drills.

The drills come with a proviso that there are a 'work in progress' that will be revised and improved as field testing occurs.

"We need to ensure they are valid and reflect the current standard of play," says Gerry Peckham, the person in overall charge of Canada's high performance coaching.

You can view the booklet HERE.

Norway sweeps to win at Kinross International  10/21/2010

Norway completed their sweep of the competition at the Kinross International, earning big wins over Wales and Scotland 4 (who gave up a 6 in the 2nd) before finishing with a 7-4 win over Rosemary Lenton's Scotland 1.

Norway   -   0  2  3  0  1  1   -  7
Sotland1  -  2  0  0  2  0   0  -  4

Norways full results and some photos can be viewed HERE

Jim Armstrong pleads guilty to "intent to mislead or defraud"  10/21/2010
Jim Armstrong, skip of Canada's gold medal winning Paralympic wheelchair curling team, today changed his plea to guilty of distributing pills with an intent to deceive. The trafficking charges outlined in the original indictment are presumably dropped and the trial scheduled for Monday October 25th will not take place.

He faces up to three years prison, though the plea agreement, which does not bind the sentencing judge, recommends that he be fined $50,000, perform community service hours and be sentenced to the time he already served in U.S. Custody. Sentencing is scheduled for January 28th before Judge Martinez of the US District Court.

Here's part of the United States Attorney’s Office press release.


Counterfeit Drugs Shipped from China and India to Blaine Post Office, Distributed in Canada

            JAMES PETER ARMSTRONG, 59, of Richmond B.C. Canada, and his son, GREGORY JAMES ARMSTRONG, 28, also of Richmond, B.C., pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to selling and dispensing counterfeit drugs with the intent to mislead or defraud.  JAMES ARMSTRONG is a retired dentist and was a member of the Canadian Paralympic curling team.  The men face up to three years in prison when sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez on January 28, 2011.

Read the full release HERE

Two teams unbeaten midway through Kinross International 10/20/2010

Team Norway, with some new faces and refound enthusiasm after the disappointments of the past couple of years, are tied at 3-0 with Scotland 1 at the midpoint of the Kinross International.

Coach Thoralf Hognestad, back in charge after a year away, says the team's spirits are high and skip Rune Lorentsen is enjoying the game again. Certainly the results have been decisive: a 7-2 win over what on paper looked a formidable Scotland 2 side (Aileen Neilson, Tom Killin, Angie Malone and George Ewan), and overwhelming defeats of Scotland 3 and Switzerland.

For Norwegian speakers there is a web page with today's action HERE.

Norway introduced two new players, Runar Bjørnstad and Paralympic skiier Per Fagerhøi, though they had to borrow local club player Maria Duncan as they were unable to travel with a female player.

Runar and Per are alternating games in Kinross, but next month at the Prague Open, Rune and Jostein will play with two more newcomers; Tone Edvartsen and Terje Rafdal.

Rosemary Lenton, a late cut from the 2010 British Paralympic squad, has skipped Scotland 1 to a 3-0 start and will play Norway in the final draw Thursday at 3pm local time.

The teams and schedule can be found HERE.

CCA launches Team Canada Talent Identification programme  10/19/2010

It's the start of a new quadrennial, and the CCA is aware that procedures for consideration for Team Canada training have appeared less than transparent.

Does this mean they plan to follow the lead of US A and (more significantly) Scotland by holding open tryouts? Well, not exactly, but they are slowly moving in that direction and promising this year a more public process.

The CCA's Wendy Morgan, in partnership with provincial organizations, is holding a series of national talent identification camps with the aim of allowing every wheelchair curler with the ambition and ability to perform to national team standards, the opportunity to be assessed by national coaching staff.

Read Wendy's plan outline HERE.

How do you ensure a place? That will depend on the policy of your provincial association. The initial CCA guideline was to invite to the camp last year's provincial champions plus 2 or 3 others deemed deserving. In Alberta this is what will happen in Calgary this coming weekend. Team Smart (the 2010 provincial champions) will be joined by 3 curlers from Edmonton.

In Manitoba invitations were issued to 10 curlers, "all our wheelchair curlers with experience," according to provincial coordinator Elaine Owen. Saskatchewan is running the camp in conjunction with their provincial team selection camp, open to everyone qualified to play for the province.

Atlantic Canada will hold a competition and camp on January 14th and will be inviting everyone who has appeared at a National Championships or wheelchair curling camp the past two seasons.

Every province has a wheelchair curling coordinator who will be responsible for deciding who will be invited to attend their camp. The names are listed at the end of this post. Some will have been actively involved with wheelchair curling, and others only in an administrative sense.

There has been a lot of grumbling in the past by people who felt their skills had been overlooked. This time round, they at least have the opportunity to know who is doing the choosing, and where and when.

Gerry Peckham agrees that no one wants a situation where participation depends on who you know rather than what you can do on the ice. If you think you have the skills to challenge for a Team Canada place, it is up to you to make sure an invitation comes your way.

Provincial coordinators:

Helen Radford - Atlantic Canada

Alan Smith - Quebec

Tom Ward - Ontario

Dave Kawahara - Northern Ontario

Elaine Owen - Manitoba

Amber Holland - Saskatchewan

Kathy Odegard - Alberta

Heather Beatty - British Columbia

3rd Annual Kinross International underway  10/19/2010

Bob Cowan reminds me that the 3rd Annual Kinross International got underway today.

Last year it attracted six Paralympic squads in a nine team field but will still host seven teams, with Switzerland and Norway joining Wales and four Scottish teams for play through Thursday.

Sudbury CC program begins October 24  10/14/2010

Wheelchair curling in Northern Ontario adds another venue with Sudbury CC hosting wheelchair curling Sundays beginning October 24. Call 705-560-3309 for more information.

Quebec's Team Lessard has a blog  10/11/2010

Team Lessard, who have reorganised this season and now play out of the Magog CC under new coach Germain Tremblay, have started their own blog.

You can post an online greeting or comment and follow the team's progress at ÉQUIPE LESSARD. (Introductory post also in English)

Team USA's Patrick McDonald out for season 10/7/2010

Patrick McDonald, the lone west coast member of Team USA, will undergo surgery for a chronic shoulder problem and will miss the entire season.

"He had hoped it could wait till next Spring," team leader Marc DePerno told me, "but it requires immediate attention. We'll select a replacement at a later date."

Team USA have just completed their trials and had nominated a USA "B" team, so will have opportunities to see how prospective replacements perform, initially at the USA Open in Utica, NY, November 12 - 14.

Patrick broke into the squad in 2009. He played as an alternate at the 2009 Worlds, but saw more playing time during the Vancouver Paralympics.
Lakeshore CC (NS) begins Saturday sessions on October 16th  10/6/2010
The holiday weekend has delayed the start of the Lakeshore CC wheelchair curling sessions for a week. They will begin Saturday October 16t, 2.45 till 5pm.

Cost is $4 and no experience is necessary. Able-bodied friends who are prepared to use a delivery stick, are also welcome.
Nanaimo program off to a promising start  10/6/2010

As mentioned a couple of days ago, the newly accessible Nanaimo Curling Centre has programmed wheelchair curling for Wednesday mornings, and six wheelchair users showed up on the first day.

"Three were first timers and three had some experience," club manager Denise Wood told me. "Two have decided to play in one of our regular curling leagues, and we're hoping to attract nine or 10 regulars as the season progresses."

As for the change from club to centre, she explained: "The design (above) was a result of local design students presenting their concepts to our membership."

Stranraer ramp lets you drown your sorrows  10/6/2010

Stranraer Ice rink, which celebrated its 40th birthday this year, now has a ramp that extends from the bar to the changing rooms, making the entire facility wheelchair accessible.

Michael McCreadie told Bob Cowan: "It is quite long and goes from the top of the stairs at the bar down to the middle door leading to the changing rooms. As wheelchair users we can go independently anywhere on the ice rink. Congratulations on their foresight and no doubt when word gets round more wheelchair users will use this great venue."

Richmond Spiel needs one more team or may move to 2on2 format 10/5/2010

The Richmond Centre for Disability, an active supporter of wheelchair curling for many years, had hoped to celebrate their 25th Anniversary International with a big field for their December spiel.

They have extended the application deadline to October 15th, hoping to add at least one more team and reach the minimum five entries needed to run the tournament with four person teams.

The organizers hope the event will run as a 2on2 if no more entries are received.

The competition runs from December 1 - 4, with practice ice available November 30th. Entries are $250 for up to 12 teams with half payable by the registration deadline of October 15th.

For more information and a registration form contact Rich Green.

Nanaimo CC now fully accessible 10/5/2010

The eight-sheet Nanaimo Curling Centre (the CCA has been trying to get clubs to rebrand as centres, hoping to sound more inclusive) is now fully accessible to wheelchair users after the addition of an elevator.

Time has been set aside for wheelchair curling on Wednesday mornings, though there's no reason why wheelchair users should not do what the general public does; jump right in and join a "fun" league, even if you lack experience.

The club manager is Denise Wood who'll be happy to arrange ice time for wheelchair users to try the sport.

Events calendar   10/01/2010

I get frequent emails asking whether I know the dates of this or that wheelchair curling event. When I am given the information, I put it on the calendar page of this website.

If you know of an event that may be of interest to those who follow wheelchair curling, please send it to me at eric@wheelchaircurling.com and I will make it available to everyone.

Do you want to curl on the GB Paralympic team?  9/29/2010

British curling has been an exclusively Scottish endeavour at the elite level, but attempts are being made to identify the best UK athletes with the proficiency and desire to compete for a place on the GB Paralympic Curling Squad.

A series of events, all at Scottish venues, have been arranged where weight control and accuracy will be assessed. The organisers warn: this complex system is aimed at elite level athletes and is not for beginners as a “come and try event”.

Applications (deadline October 1st) are available for download HERE and information packs can be obtained from Amber Thomson.

More details on the program and eligibility can be seen HERE.

I found the link on Bob Cowan's Skip Cottage Curling blog, in a post detailing his visit to Sterling's recreational wheelchair curling program. Details and photos HERE.

A letter from Team Cameron (ON)  9/29/2010

I received a very encouraging letter from Team Bradford. You can read it, and my reply, on the blog.

3rd Annual Wetzikon Invitational October 30-31, Zurich SUI  9/29/2010

Closing date for applications to compete in the 3rd Annual Wetzikon Invitational in Zurich, Switzerland, is October 2nd.

There will be a maximum of 12 teams, playing in two pools four games guaranteed. Entries are CHF280 (approx. $300 Canadian) and includes the Saturday banquet.

Full event details are available (in German and English) HERE.

No change for Team USA after trials 9/27/2010

Team USA 2011 will be represented by the same five athletes that brought them so close to medals at the last Worlds and Vancouver Paralympics.

Augusto 'Goose' Perez (East Syracuse, N.Y.) will skip James Pierce (North Syracuse, N.Y.), Jacqui Kapinowski (Point Pleasant, N.J.), James Joseph (New Hartford, N.Y.) and Patrick McDonald (Orangevale, Calif.). (as in photo above)

Athletes named as alternates for Team USA include Tammy Delano (Rome, N.Y.), Penny Greely (Green Bay, Wis.), Laura Schwanger (Mantua, N.J.) and Bob Prenoveau (Chittenango, N.Y.). The alternates will compete in events and train as Team USA B. [USA Curling press release]

Twelve athletes attended this weekend's open tryouts at the Green Bay CC in Wisconsin. While there is promising talent among those not selected, the downside to working with a small national squad is that they provide a receding target to a newcomer hoping to displace them.

One trialist undaunted by the challenge, was Green Bay native Penny Greely. She told WBAY TV 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. I hope to remain part of the curling club, get on some leagues. And hopefully making the national team some day," she added.

Some do's, don'ts and things to try during practice  9/26/2010

The three elements to delivering the stone, speed, direction and rotation, are the same for everyone, and rely on consistency. This is why it is important to  .... [read the article]

Shake-up at Team Manitoba  9/26/2010
It will come as no surprise to anyone who watched Manitoba play last March in Kelowna, BC, that the team has split up after three successive national championship bronze medals. They did not look happy on or off the ice.

This season Chris Sobkowicz and third Dennis Thiessen will each skip a team and compete against each other in the Manitoba playdown.

Chris will play with 2010 teammates George Horning and Terry Lindell and has been practicing at Winnipeg's Assiniboine CC with several players who may make the team.

Dennis Thiessen will reconnect with Michael Alberg, a teammate on the 2008 and 2009 Manitoba team, along with Effie Loubardias and a newcomer to wheelchair curling, Heather Mowat. They will play out of the East St. Paul CC in Winnipeg and compete at the 6th Annual Cathy Kerr Memorial the third week in November.
It is encouraging that there are enough participants in Manitoba that teams can reform. Expectations are that three teams will compete in the 2011 provincials. No word as to whether long-time provincial lead Arlene Ursel will play this year.
Chris Daw inducted to London (ON) Hall Of Fame  9/23/2010
Team Canada skip Daw, 40, who won three national wheelchair curling titles, silver and bronze at the Worlds and a gold medal at the Turin Paralympics, has been inducted into the London, Ontario, Hall Of Fame.

He attended the Western Fair ceremony with his wife Morgan and their infant daughter Arouyn.

“This is the culmination of everything,” he told Steve Green of the London Free Press. “The day it was announced that I was being inducted, I called my mom (Eleanor). The very next day, she passed away.

“Throughout my entire career, she and my father were my greatest supporters and my greatest advocates. This means just as much as Turin because not only is it the recognition of my achievements, it’s the recognition of their support.”

The London Hall Of Fame video citation can be viewed at this link.

Ottawa's RA Curling Club's curling begins this Saturday 25th  9/23/2010

Bruce Cameron writes to say that wheelchair curling will be starting at the RA Curling Club in Ottawa this Saturday, September 25th, 3 - 5 pm.

All wheelchair users are welcome. No previous experience necessary. Yearly memberships are $10, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Ontario Champions Team Cameron will be on hand for a meet-and-greet on Saturday 2nd Oct 2010, and will give a demonstration before being presented the Team Ontario provincial banner they won at last season's Dominion Provincial Championship.

Team USA tryouts in Green Bay, WI this weekend 9/23/2010

Twelve athletes will be attending the Team USA tryouts this weekend in Green Bay WI, including all five members of the team that finished fourth at the 2009 Worlds and the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics.

Making the Team - The 2011 U.S. Wheelchair Curling Team Selection will take place Friday through Sunday at the Green Bay (Wis.) Curling Club. The individual skills tryouts will help select the national team for the season to compete in various international and national competitions as well as wear Team USA at the 2011 Wheelchair World Championship in March in the Czech Republic. Twelve athletes are competing to be named to the roster, including all five members of Team USA's wheelchair curling team from the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.

From USACurling

Mike Fitzgerald is CCA's Male Athlete of the Week 9/23/2010

[from the CCA profile] Michael Fitzgerald has built himself quite a resume, both on and off the ice.

On the ice, he’s been a dominant force in Nova Scotia wheelchair curling; he’s claimed the last three provincial titles and has represented the Bluenose Province at the last three national championships, in 2008 at Winnipeg (3-4 record), 2009 at Halifax (3-6 record) and 2010 in Kelowna, B.C. (4-5 record, just out of the playoffs).

As well, Fitzgerald has worked behind the scenes to help wheelchair curling; he’s a Level 1 coach specializing in the wheelchair discipline, and has instructed many new wheelchair curlers in Atlantic Canada. Add to that his upcoming duties, volunteering at the 2011 Canada Winter Games (he’ll be an accessibility representative at the Mayflower Curling Club, which will host the curling competition) and you get the picture about Fitzgerald’s commitment to the Roaring Game.

Read the full profile.

Lethbridge AB invites wheelchair users to curl  9/23/2010

Wheelchair users in Lethbridge AB will have the opportunity to curl this season in a program promoted by the Alberta Health Service as part of its theraputic recreation initiative to keep wheelchair users active during the winter.

To find out more about the program, or to volunteer to coach, contact Community Recreation Therapist Carolyn Matthews at 403.388.6348

Team Sweden, Vancouver bronze medalists, break up  9/18/2010

Team Sweden, winners of the bronze medal at the Vancouver Paralympics, are breaking up.

Swedish skip Jalle Jungnell writes:

"After playing with Glenn Ikonen and Anette Wilhelm for 10 years at international level, the time has come to quit. Anette wants more time for her two young children, and I have still not recovered from last December's spine surgery.

"After our silver medal at the 2009 Worlds, we had high hopes for a repeat of the result in Vancouver, or even better. Things where looking really good during the fall, with a new coach (Tomas Nordin) and good results, with a win in Switzerland.

"Then I suddenly start losing strength and feeling in my hands, and was rushed to emergency surgery, and was hospitalized in Denver for a month. I returned to the ice only 4 weeks before Vancouver, and 10 weeks practicing without a skip didn’t do the team any good.

"We recovered from an 0-3 start to win 7 of the last 9 games and take bronze. Any medal in the Paralympics is big, and we were happy, but there were mixed feelings. This journey includes so much pain and struggle that we all felt pretty exhausted - happy with the result, but definitely not with our performance.

"A couple of bronze and a silver in my career is fun, but the highlight of my curling is definitely all the nice people we have met through the years. The spirit and friendship between nations is just exceptional. I’ll miss all Mikaels, Sonjas, Runes and Nadias, and so many, many more."

Lead and 2009 sportsmanship award winner Anette Wilhelm added: "It was a difficult and somewhat sad decision to take, but all things come to and end."

Jalle has retired before, and is still young enough to make another come-back, though back pain and neurological problems with his hands persists. He would like to return "and show everyone that Sweden can play" but acknowledges his health is not good enough, at least at present.

His retirement is a big loss not only to Sweden but to the game internationally. Jalle realised that his job was not just as an athlete, but also an ambassador for the sport. He did not hide himself away as did the Canadians and Scots and many others during the 2009 Worlds where I met him, and was happy to talk wheelchair curling to anyone interested.
Team Sweden's future is now in doubt, as would any program that relied on a tiny core group of players year after year. Glenn Ikonen's 6-month suspension for using a banned blood pressure medication, ends September 22nd but he does not have a team.

If Sweden do not compete at the Worlds in Prague, three teams will qualify from the upcoming World's Qualifying Tournament.

Marcus Sieger replaces Jens Jäger as skip of Team Germany 9/16/2010

Jens Jäger, who skipped Germany to a bronze medal at the 2009 Wolds, and also skipped at the Vancouver Paralympics, is out of the national team. He has been replaced by his 3rd, Marcus Stieger.

The new Team Germany, who will compete at the 2011 Worlds in Prague, is Marcus Sieger (Skip), Jens Gäbel, Christiane Steger and newcomer Stefan Deuschl. Helmar Erlewein continues as national team coach.

Jens has a new team, the Mainhattan Ice Wheelers, who competed in last weekend's Danish international spiel at Taarnby, finishing fourth.

Sports Day in Canada September 18 9/15/2010
Canadians are invited to experience first-hand various Paralympic sports during hands-on sport demonstrations in Ottawa (ON) and Richmond (BC) on the first-ever Sports Day in Canada, September 18.

Paralympians Chris Daw and Darryl Neighbour will be among those attending the Richmond Oval in BC from 11 - 2, and there will also be an Ottawa event at Lansdowne Park, Ottawa.

Read the Canadian Paralympic Committee's media release HERE. 

Per Christensen back as Denmark's Coach, but Norway win opener 9/14/2010

The 4th Annual Danske Internationale Kørestole Curling Cup 2010 was held this past weekend at the Taarnby Curling Club. Teams from host Denmark, Finland, Czech Republic, Germany, Russia and two teams from Norway competed.

German Paralympic team skip Jens Jager is no longer part of the German national team, but brought a new team, the "Mainhattan Ice-Wheelers" made up of players from Frankfurt and Schwenningen. Norway split their Paralympic squad with Rune Lorentsen and Geir Arne Skogstad skipping.

Rune's Norway 1 went unbeaten to win the tournament, with Denmark 2nd and Finland 3rd.

Full results are available HERE.

Per Christensen, a Dane who took over from Thoralf Hognestad as coach of Norway for the Paralympics before handing the team back to Thoralf after Vancouver, is back as coach of the Danish national side.

"After a long down period for the Danish team, it seems that they are on their way up," Per told me. Denmark had failed to qualify for the Worlds in 2008 and 2009.

"I think that it has been an advantage for them to have the break," he added. "We used the tournament as practice for the World Champoinship Qualification Tournament in Lohja Finland, November 6-12."

Kinross WCC holding a "come and try" session September 25  9/13/2010

The Kinross Wheelchair Curling Club, formed in 2001, is holding a "come and try" session at 12.15pm on Saturday September 25 at The Green Hotel, Kinross (SCO). No experience necessary.

The club has 15 curlers competing in league play, and a full schedule of events. Their fundraising Ceilidh at the Windlstrae Hotel brought in 100 people and raised almost a thousand pounds.

More information about the club can be found at their website.

Two national champs pair up to win Osoyoos 2 on 2  9/13/2010

Gary Cormack and Vince Miele, continuing the form that saw them win a national title last March, won the 4th Annual Olsen Curling Supplies Osoyoos 2 on 2. They beat fellow teammate Rich Green and Team Canada member Bruno Yizek 7-4 in the final of the two day event to win cash, and a curling jacket and pants.

Team Canada members Darryl Neighbour and Sonja Gaudet finished 3rd in the five team field.

UK to offer Introduction to Coaching Wheelchair Curling course  9/11/2010

The Royal Caledonian CC, the national governing body for curling, is offering a 3-4 hour course for current RCCC qualified coaches, intended to introduce them to the sport and enable them to instruct a beginner who uses a wheelchair.

The course will cover delivery styles, safety awareness and include the coach using a wheelchair during the course and thus "gaining valuable insights into the perspective of a wheelchair user."

Team Quebec players and coach part ways 9/10/2010

The members of Team Quebec and the coaches who have been instrumental in establishing wheelchair curling in their province, have parted ways.

The team has been centred at the Lennoxville CC under the guidance of Quebec's Club Coach of the Year Al Whittier and Dan Janidlo. Tension arose when skip Ben Lessard, 3rd Carl Marquis and 2nd Denis Grenier chose to leave the 2010 Nationals in Kelowna before the banquet, without prior discussion of their decision with their coaches. Although this breach of protocol fractured the coaching relationship, it did not result in CCA imposed sanctions, though rules for 2011 are likely to make banquet attendance mandatory.

Magog CC coach Germain Tremblay has agreed to work with the team on a part-time basis whenever his schedule permits.

Carl will practice at the Magog Club which is closer to his home, while Ben will continue to play at Lennoxville. They are likely to be joined by newcomer Sebastien Boisvert, described as a "natural" by a coach who saw him play at the Cape Cod Summerspiel. Lead Johanne Daly lives some distance away in Montreal.

The team plans to compete at the Cathy Kerr in Ottawa and the US Open in Utica NY, and are hoping that funds can be found for travel to the Richmond BC International in December.

Al Whittier will continue to promote recreational wheelchair curling at Lennoxville. Dan Janidlo will maintain his Lennoxville connections, but will also be checking for wheelchair access at clubs closer to his new home in Montreal.

Canada shifts from internationals to national athlete development 9/8/2010

Sometimes no news is good news, and sometimes no news means that everyone is holding their breath and hoping not to be crushed when the elephant sits down.

With skip Jim Armstrong awaiting trial, presently scheduled for October 25 in US District Court in Seattle, for trafficking counterfeit pills, there has been no Team Canada activity over the summer.

After a four year campaign ending in gold medals at the 2009 Worlds and 2010 Paralympics, there was always going to be a slower pace to this season as plans are made for the next quadrennial, with a switch of emphasis from international competition, to encouraging domestic competition.

While Joe Rea remains national team coach, Wendy Morgan has been appointed National Program Manager for wheelchair curling. This will entail working with each province's designated wheelchair curling coordinators. I am assured that each province has such a person and I will publish their names as soon as I have them.

The CCA's involvement in wheelchair curling will continue to be split between the Discover Curling Program run by Danny Lamoureux and responsible for grassroots development, and "long term athlete development" which will be assisted by the national coaching staff and national program athletes.

While there is an argument that this separation is artificial and obstructive of grassroots development, it fits the existing determination of CCA staff to keep national team membership and training under their close control.

Wendy Morgan says: "The current National Team will train independently and attend a couple of training camps (TBD). They will compete in the Richmond Invitational in December. (ed. December 1-4 - entry deadline September 30)

It is likely that a group core of athletes from the current National Team will represent Canada at the World championships in Prague in 2011."

There will, however, be a nation-wide series of "Talent ID/Development Camps with the intention to recruit talented/promising wheelchair athletes to the National Team Program while making a positive contribution to local wheelchair curling programs."

What that means for ambitious curlers outside of the present program, is that either by winning your provincial championship, or by gaining the sponsorship of your provincial coordinator, you will have the opportunity to at least make yourself known to national coaching staff.

A provisional list of potential venues includes St. John's NFLD, Halifax, Ottawa, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg/Regina, Calgary, Richmond and Whitehorse.

Norway's Thoralf Hognestad returns as national team coach  9/8/2010

Thoralf Hognestad took charge of Team Norway after the Torino Paralympics, and led them to back to back world Championships in 2007 and 2008. Work commitments after the 2009 season prevented him from leading the team at the Vancouver Paralympics. Per Christensen, previously coach of his Danish national team, took over but failed to improve on the previous year's disappointing performance.

This season Thoralf is back with an increased squad and a full schedule of early season competition.

"We have some exciting new players who I hope will be challenging for team places when we choose the team for the Worlds," he told me.

One change that he doesn't expect to make is at skip, where Rune Lorentsen has had a couple of difficult years.

"Rune has his confidence back," says Hognestad. If that's true, it's bad news for the rest of the world.

Norway will be taking two teams to Denmark this coming weekend, and then are scheduled to travel to Inverness in Scotland in October, and Berne, Switzerland, in November. They'll also be competing in regular local bonspiels.

Michael McCreadie leaving national team  9/2/2010

Team Great Britain skip Michael McCreadie was a notable absentee from the list of individual athletes selected to the British Wheelchair Curling Squad for Season 2010 - 2011. Gregor Ewan, Jim Gault and Michael McKenzie join recent team members Tom Killin, Rosemary Lenton, Angie Malone, Aileen Neilson and Jim Sellar.

There was no mention whether Tom Pendreigh remains as coach.

Bob Cowan reports Michael saying, "I have decided to take a season out of international competition and re-assess next season."

Expectations of success are as high in Scotland as in Canada. Michael was unable to repeat, as leader of the generously sponsored program, the success he enjoyed as vice to Frank Duffy, and admits the pressure of the past couple of years affected his enjoyment of the sport. Read Bob's report HERE.

Osoyoos 2 on 2 spiel begins Saturday Setember 11 9/2/2010

The 4th Annual Olsen Curling Supplies 2 on 2 Bonspiel will begin at 9 am this Saturday, September 11 at the Osoyoos CC just north of the BC/Washington State border.

Team Canada members Sonja Gaudet, Darrryl Neighbour and Bruno Yizek will be playing, with Team BC members Gerry Austgarden, Frank LaBounty and Alison Duffy, national champion skip Gary Cormack with his team members Rich Green and Vince Miele.

There's an odd number of teams registered, so a last minute arrival would not be unwelcome. Give Gerry a call at 250-979-3030 (work) or 250 768-0751 (home).

Armstrong trial put back to October 25th 8/31/2010

At yesterday's status update hearing before Judge Martinez in the case of USA v. James Armstrong and Gregory Armstrong, the prosecution requested a continuance until October 25th.

While there may be further delays, a jury trial is presently scheduled for that date. Background to the case can be found in a previous post HERE.

Armstrong court case update 8/29/2010

US government prosecutors and Team Canada skip Jim Armstrong and his son Gregory will appear in a Seattle courtroom at 10am tomorrow (Monday August 30) for a Status Conference/Hearing before US District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez. The conference is scheduled for 30 minutes.

Background to the case can be found in a previous post HERE and a link to the judge's schedule is HERE.

Let's start over 8/28/2010

If the WCF were structuring wheelchair curling from scratch, using the experience of the past ten years, the sport would, or perhaps more personally, should look very different. How different? Find out by reading the rest of the column HERE.

The secret to success in curling 8/27/2010

Want to know the secret of success in curling? It's not all about how hard you kick it, how fast you run and then how good you are at tackling: it's all about .......    (find out at this video)

What's happening in Nova Scotia  8/27/2010

Nova Scotia is holding a Give-It-A-Go day at the Lakeshore Curling Club on October 3rd from 10 till 2. First timers or those with limited experience are welcome. Wheelchair curling is a mixed sport with both males and females participating.

They are also looking for volunteers to assist at the weekly Saturday afternoon curling sessions at the Sackville Sports Stadium on Glendale Avenue in Lower Sackville.

To register or just to get more information call, Laughie Rutt at 864-2737 in the evenings or Lakeshore Curling Club at 869-CURL. Please feel free to leave a message. You can email laughierutt@eastlink.ca.

Chester CC is holding similar sessions on October 17, 24, 31 and November 14, 2010 from 11am-1pm For information on this clinic, please contact Trendal Hubley Bolivar at Hubley-Bolivar@hotmail.com.

For more information on wheelchair curling read Issue 2 of their newsletter.

Curling Quebec recognises Al Whittier as Club Coach Of The Year 8/27/2010

Al Whittier, the driving force in establishing Quebec's first wheelchair curling program at the Lennoxville CC, has been named Club Coach Of The Year by Curling Quebec.

Here is the citation in French, and below is a Google translation.

Le comité de sélection souhaite encourager et soutenir l’initiative de monsieur Alfred Whittier, du club de curling de Lennoxville. Au printemps 2008, monsieur a présenté, pour la première fois, le curling à des athlètes handicapés. Ce ne fut pas sans obstacle et avec l’appui de plusieurs partenaires, monsieur Whittier et son équipe a su rendre ce sport accessible en adaptant les installations du club pour ses athlètes. Ceux-ci ont d’ailleurs participé à deux championnats canadiens de curling pour athlètes en fauteuil roulant. Avec l’aide de son collègue Daniel Janidlo, le programme a grandi et les athlètes participent désormais à des évènements locaux. En 2009, monsieur Whittier a d’ailleurs remporté le Donald Patrick Award de la ville de Lennoxville pour son travail avec les athlètes handicapés.

The selection committee wants to encourage and support the initiative of Mr. Alfred Whittier, of the Lennoxville Curling Club. In spring 2008, Mr. Whittier presented for the first time, curling to athletes with disabilities. It was not without obstacles but with the support of several partners, Mr. Whittier and his team managed to make the sport accessible by adapting the club facilities for its athletes. They have also participated in two national wheelchair curling championships. With the help of his colleague Daniel Janidlo, the program has grown and athletes now participate in local events. In 2009, Mr. Whittier won the Donald Patrick Award from the City of Lennoxville for his work with disabled athletes.

Curling down under gaining momentum  8/25/2010

The wheelchair curling program at Melbourne's (Australia) Ice House in the Docklands is going frm strength to strength and organizer Jim Oastler is hoping to add two teams to the regular Monday evening league. The facility has ice all year round, so play will continue through the coming summer for the first time in Australia.

Friday December 3rd marks the International Day of People with a Disability and Melbourne will be hosting their 2010 Disability Sport and Recreation Festival 7am to 2 pm at Federation Square. Jim will be promoting wheelchair curling at the event. Details of the day's activities on this flier.

Does your (Canadian) club need $$$ for access renovations? 8/25/2010

The Federal Government has an "Enabling Access" program where grants of up to $75,000 may be awarded to projects aimed at increasing access for the disabled to community resources.

This program issues occasional invitations for proposals and bids must be in bu September 10th.

For information o the scope of the program and how to apply for funding go HERE

Team USA looking for help at Trials   8/25/2010

Tryouts for the coming season's Team USA are being held in Green Bay WI from September 23 to 26.

The coaches are looking for 3 volunteers to help with the assessment processes. Previous experience with wheelchair curling is not necessary but the panelists must be able to pay attention to detail, as most of the skills competitions will involve scoring and interpretation of results. A deep knowledge of curling is not essential, but the panelists will need to be able to observe one-on-one competitions and determine if the strategy being used is at least valid.

For more details see THIS LINK on the USA Curling website.

5th Annual U.S. Open Wheelchair Bonspiel November 12-14  8/8/2010

Utica CC in New York is once again hosting the US Open bonspiel. Entries are $300 per 4 person team, with transport to and from Syracuse Airport and to and from the hotel in New Hartford available for $500 a team.

Up to 8 teams will play in a round robin, starting 9.30am Friday Nov 12 and finishing 2.30 pm on Sunday Nov.14.

Full details are HERE. For more information contact Marc Deperno by email or call 315-737-2459

Competition begins in BC at the Osoyoos 2on2 September 11-12  8/8/2010

The 4th Annual Olson Curling Supplies 2 on 2 Wheelchair Spiel will be held at the Osoyoos CC the weekend of September 11-12.

New curlers are welcome. This is a fun event in an ideal format for wheelchair users. Team Canada members will participate, and the event hopes to field 8 teams.

Entry details can be seen on the flyer HERE. Registration requested by September 1st. For more information email Gerry Austgarden or call him at 250-979-3030

USA Trials to be held in Green Bay WI, September 24-26  8/8/2010

USA Curling is holding a weekend of trials for participation on Team USA, at the Green Bay CC the weekend of September 24-26.

This is an open camp. To register contact Marc Deperno by email or call 315-737-2459.  The Trials will consist of individual skill events, mini games and personal interviews.  Coaches will be evaluating skill, game knowledge and strategy, team dynamics, leadership and potential. 

For more information visit the USA Curling Association website.

Goose Perez skips international team to Cape Cod win  7/28/2010

Team USA skip Goose Perez skipped an international team of Tammy Delano and Ottawa's Katie Paialunga to victory in the 4 day Cape Cod CC Wheelchair Summerspiel, lifting the Colaccio Wheel Challenge Trophy after beating Carl Marquis and Team Quebec in Sunday's final.

Club coach Tony Colaccio, who saw 4 years of fundraising and renovation effort come to fruition with this inaugural wheelchair spiel, told the Cape Cod Times he hopes the event will grow. "Then the problem will be finding accessible accommodation."

You can read a report from the event HERE and see a gallery of photos HERE.

Massachusetts Summerspiel attracts international field  7/24/2010

The inaugural Wheelchair Summerspiel at the Cape Cod CC in Falmouth MA attracted 6 teams, including Team USA, Team Germany and Team Quebec. The four day event began on Thursday (22nd) and featured a full round robin with the final for the Colaccio Wheel Challenge Trophy to be played Sunday 25th at 9.30 am.

Past president Tony Colaccio and president Mary Colaccio began working in 2006 to raise the funds to make the club accessible, and it is encouraging to see their commitment not only bring local wheelchair users into the club, but also attract such an international field to a summer event.

Nova Scotia wheelchair program gaining recognition  7/12/2010

Team Nova Scotia 3rd Laughie Rutt was nominated by the NSCA as Nova Scotia Male Athlete of the Year, and Team Nova Scotia coach Glen McClare received a nomination for Coach of the Year.

Wheelchair curling begins at the Lakeshore CC on Sunday October 3rd with an open "Give-It-A-Go" session from 10am till 2pm. The provincial team will attend and the session is open to any wheelchair user interested in finding out what it's like to curl. Able-bodied curlers interested in starting a program at their club, or volunteering at the regularly scheduled Saturday afternoon sessions, 3-5pm starting October 9th, are also welcome.

Contact the club at 902-864-CURL, or Laughie at 902-864-2737 and ask to be added to his email news and announcement list.

Open clinic and try-out at Green Bay CC July 30-August 1 7/8/2010

The U.S. Curling Association is sponsoring an open weekend wheelchair curling camp at the Green Bay CC. Present Team USA members will be in attendance, and wheelchair users will be able not only to learn about the sport but also discover what it takes to try out for Team USA.

For more information contact Marc DePerno and download the event brochure from this link.

Jim Armstrong jury trial set for August 30  7/8/2010

Team Canada skip and Paralympic gold medalist Jim Armstrong's jury trial before Judge Martinez has been put back to August 30 at the U.S. District Court in Seattle WA.

Armstrong is charged with his son Gregory with trafficking in counterfeit goods and selling and dispensing counterfeit drugs with the intent to mislead or defraud. He was arrested at a mail service in Blaine WA in April when picking up a package containing 2,800 fake Viagra and Cialis pills, and is free on $20,000 bond. The charges carry a maximum 10-year prison sentence and $2-million fine.

For background on the case see the links on this post.

Paralympic success brings funding increase   7/5/2010

Against their expectations. the CCA says funding from both Own The Podium and Sport Canada will increase for the coming season.

"This means," said a very happy Gerry Peckham, the CCA high performance coach in overall change of the program, "that we will be able to enhance both grass root and high performance development via expanded programs and services."

No details as yet.

The top six wheelchair athletes at the end of the assessment year in June receive funding for the following year through the carding system; a monthly training stipend. The five members of the gold medal team receive full cards: Jim Armstrong, Darryl Neighbour, Ina Forrest, Sonja Gaudet, and Bruno Yizek. Bruno trades places with Chris Sobkowicz who now receives funding at "development" card level.

Sport Canada will monitor Jim Armstrong's future eligibility as events relating to his upcoming trial unfold.

Braehead curlers in charity wheelchair push   6/29/2010

Bob Cowan reports that members of the Braehead WCC held a sponsored 10 mile wheelchair push to raise funds for Erskine Hospital.

Michael McCreadie said, "For the past five years we have raised money for our own club. However, this year we felt it appropriate that another worthwhile organisation should benefit."

Gaudet and Forrest honoured by their community  6/29/2010

Team Canada teammates Ina Forrest and Sonja Gaudet were co-winners of the North Okanagan Athlete Of The Year Award in Vernon sponsored by Dan and Jamie Currie of Tim Hortons.

“The (award) committee took a long time to make their decisions. The choices were not easy," chair Mel Briggeman told the Vernon Morning Star, "but in the end we went with the best front-end curlers in the world."

Forrest, a mother of three who lives and runs a business in Armstrong, said she appreciated getting some exposure at home.

"It's very nice recognition from our community," she said following the outdoor ceremony at Tim Hortons on Highway 97. "We don't often play in our own community on our national team so it's nice to be recognized in your community for accomplishments away from your community."

Gaudet, who won the award last year, echoed that sentiment. "No, it doesn't get old, but you appreciate the support and being noticed by your community. It's just as special (as last year) definitely. Ina and I are great teammates and we bring the best out in each other so I'm happy that we got this award together."

Promising start for Aussie program in Melbourne  6/23/2010

The Victorian Curling Association followed up its successful initial give-it-a-go session last month by attracting ten wheelchair users onto the ice for what will become regular learn to curl sessions leading to wheelchair users joining regular play.

The sessions are being held at the Ice House in the Docklands area of Melbourne. James Oastler, who has been a long-time advocate for Aussie curling, reports: We worked on weight control and then played an 8 end game. Next month we'll use the video camera on their delivery with time out to view and discuss their approach. If we can maintain interest we will run the sessions fortnightly.

For more information contact James Oastler.

Hopes dashed for Team Canada discussion at CCA's AGM  6/22/2010

Bruce Cameron reports that the topic of team selection for Team Canada was not discussed at this weekend's AGM of the Canadian Curling Association.

While disappointing to those hoping for at least an acknowledgement of the issue, it was not surprising given the administrative hurdles involved in bringing a topic to the floor without months of preparation and due notice.

Athlete empowerment, bringing wheelchair curlers into the decision making process in all areas of the sport, takes organisation and effort, even when there is broad agreement on goals. Wheelchair curling is no more than a pimple on the backside of the sport as a whole, and it will take a lot for the CCA to change present processes that bring reflected glory via podium success.

There has been a very productive discussion in earlier blog comments about the issues and possible ways forward. For those wanting change, ignore the naysayers who claim nothing can be done; ignore those who call dissatisfaction with the present system mere whining.

Change can come if athletes force it. So, form a wheelchair curling association within your province and affiliate with your provincial association (PA). Set your policy about Team Canada selection. Make your policy known to your PA and find out how to make it provincial policy, at a minimum by making it a topic for their next AGM.

If most wheelchair curlers are represented at the provincial level, a national association might be a next step.

If enough provincial associations have, as policy, a change to the Team Canada selection process, then there will be the support necessary to put it on next year's CCA agenda.

There are delegates to the CCA's AGM that are willing to help. They need the tools, and only action by wheelchair curlers themselves can supply them.

I've added Bruce Cameron's report to the comments section of the blog post, which is open to positive suggestions for ways forward. If your point of view is that nothing can or should be done, that thread is not the place to express it.

Halifax's Mayflower CC to be made wheelchair accessible  6/20/2010

The Mayflower CC in Halifax NS has been awarded a grant of $20,000 towards making the club accessible to wheelchair users.

“We have provincial, national and world titles and soon enough we hope to have a wheelchair curling title,” Paul McDonald, past President of the club, told the Metro News.

Wheelchair curling is huge now across Canada, and Mayflower wants to be able to offer it, McDonald added in an interview with The Chronicle-Herald.

A ramp and accessible bathroom are the first improvements planned, with a lift from the main floor onto the ice shed level.

A letter from Team Bradford (ON)  6/11/2010

I received a very encouraging letter from Team Bradford today. You can read it, and my reply, on the blog.

Richmond (BC) International Bonspiel Dec 1-4, 2010  6/11/2010

The Richmond Centre for Disability has been very active in its support for wheelchair curling over many years. This year they are celebrating their 25th Anniversary and are planning the 2010 International Bonspiel to be the biggest yet.

The competition runs from December 1 - 4, with practice ice available November 30th. Entries are $250 for up to 12 teams with half payable by the registration deadline of September 30.

They are currently negotiating hotel accommodation, and would appreciate an expression of interest in attending ASAP.

For more information and a registration form contact Rich Green.

Ontarians favour national champs in Worlds the following year 6/11/2010

The results of the Ontario Curling Association's survey on the Team Canada selection process produced a large majority for Option 3 - the Canadian national champions representing Canada at the World Championships the following year.

This option allows up to a year of preparation time and has been used previously at the Junior level. It was chosen by 68% (19 of 28) of the respondents to the survey.

Full survey results (options are detailed in the previous post).

Option 3 - 68% (national champs go to following year's Worlds - 19 of 28)
Option 2 - 18% (use Brier/Scotties system - 5 of 28)
Option 4 - 10% (best of 5 playoff for Worlds - 3 of 28) 
Option 1  - 4% (present system - 1 of 28)

Ontario  seeks input on Team Canada selection process  6/9/2010

The Ontario Curling Association has polled their competitive wheelchair curlers and coaches on their views on their preferred methos of Team Canada formation.

The poll asked for four selection methods to be ranked, and promised that the results would be tabulated and shared with the other provinces at the CCA's Annual General Meeting next week. We now know that this issue is being raised by at least two provinces.

Option 1: Continue the current selection process as run by the CCA with their National Coaching staff selecting the 5 members of Team Canada from any province.

Option 2: Have the winner of the Canadian Wheelchair Championship represent Canada at the World Championship in the same season that the World Championship is held. Note: this option requires changes in scheduling of Provincial and National Championships.

Option 3: Have the winner of the Canadian Wheelchair Championship represent Canada at the following year’s World Championship. Note: this option allows the winning Canadian Championship team to receive additional coaching/training and competition for up to one year before competing at the World Championship.

Option 4: Have the winner of the Canadian Wheelchair Championship play a best 3 of 5 games playoff against the “selected” Team Canada for the right to represent Canada at the World championships.

If you haven't already done so, you might want to browse the opinions expressed in the thread "Team Canada - time for a change?" to familiarise yourself with some of the issues. Then please add a comment  and your ranking, with any explanation for your choices, to the comments on the blog version of this post.

Frank LaBounty wins CurlBC's Athlete with a Disability Award 5/27/2010

Prince George resident Frank LaBounty was selected by CurlBC's Awards & Recognition Committee to receive the Athlete with a Disability Award for he 2009-2010 season.

The award is for accomplishments in events recognized by Curl BC. Winners must have competed at the national or international level or have shown outstanding achievement at the provincial level.

Frank played third for Gerry Austgarden, winning the BC provincials and earning a silver medal at the National Championships won by Gary Cormack, also from BC.

Last year's winner was Jim Armstrong. While Frank has been a stalwart in BC wheelchair curling since the beginning, it is perhaps surprising that he beat out all nine BC residents who won Paralympic and National gold medals last season.

Team GB's Aileen Neilson wins S. Lanarkshire Sports Award 5/27/2010

Aileen Neilson was crowned the South Lanarkshire Female Sports Performer of the Year. As well as competing in the Vancouver Paralympics, the Bent Primary School teacher was also in the rink which won the Scottish Championships in October and the British Championships in September.

The 38-year-old told the East Kilbride News: “I’ve had a great time this year and I’m delighted and honoured to have won this award. Although the team didn’t return home from Vancouver with a medal, this award shows our hard work and dedication in the sport of wheelchair curling has still been recognised by South Lanarkshire Leisure.”

Team Canada - time for a change?  5/26/2010

I've been getting emails asking whether the current selection process for Team Canada should be changed to the traditional "win to play" system used in the able-bodied game: if you win a national championship you become Team Canada with the perks and responsibilities that go with that title.

We have just finished a funding cycle where the importance of winning a gold medal overrode all other considerations, though proponents of selection dispute that there is a useful distinction between what is good for Canada's medal prospects and what is good for the sport as a whole.

As we approach a new quadrennial, there is an opportunity for participants in wheelchair curling to say whether there should be change. [read more]

Edmonton's Jasper Place CC to host  2011 Canadian Nationals 5/19/2010

Cathy Craig, manager of the Jasper Place Curling Club in Edmonton, Alberta, tells the Edmonton Journal that the club will host the 2011 Canadian National Wheelchair Curling Championships, March 20 - 27.

The club will be undertaking a two-stage renovation made possible by a $263,200 grant from the federal Recreational Infrastructure Canada program. Phase 1 will include an elevator to the viewing area, and accessible bathrooms.

Team USA receives Congressional Award  5/16/2010

WKTV reports that the U.S. Paralympic Curling Team was honored with a Congressional Record Statement Friday. The statement, presented by Congressman Michael Arcuri, was presented at the Sitrin, New Hartford, the team's sponsor.

Armstrong pleads not guilty - trial date July 6  5/13/2010

The Victoria Times Colonist reports that Jim Armstrong entered a plea of not guilty to charges of trafficking in fake Viagra pills. A date was set for trial in US District Court in Seattle for July 6.

Armstrong was arrested April 15 after collecting a package containing 3,000 fake pills, and has been free on $20,000 surety bond. Armstrong’s son Gregory, 28, is also named in the indictment and a bench warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Wheelchair curling down under - Melbourne, May 24 5/13/2010

The Victorian Curling Association in Melbourne, Australia, is sponsoring a "come and try" session on May 24 from 6pm at the Icehouse in the Docklands. You can download the event poster from the link on this page of their website.

Though Jim Oastler has for many years been promoting curling in general and wheelchair curling in particular in Australia, he's hopeful that the attention garnered by the Paralympics will provide the catalyst to gain wheelchair curling a toe-gold in a country obsessed with sport .

"We are also eager to expand wheelchair curling through the Australian Curling Federation. We will continue to offer come and try sessions at the Curling Nationals; and plan return visits to Queensland and New South Whales to establish wheelchair curling with those state curling associations."

Chris Daw to be inducted to London ON) Sports Hall Of Fame 5/10/2010

The London Free Press is reporting that Chris Daw, skip of Canada's gold medal winning team in Torino 2006, will be inducted into the London (ON) Sports Hall Of Fame this fall at a date to be announced.

Ina Forrest honoured in her community  5/8/2010

Team Canada Paralympic gold medalist Ina Forrest was honoured by the Mayors of Armstrong and Spallumcheen. Mayor Chris Pieper and colleague Mayor Will Hansma presented Forrest with recognition of excellence awards from both communities in front of both councils Monday in Spallumcheen.

Read more from the Vernon Morning Star's report HERE.

Accessible sports demo in Sault Ste Marie, Sunday May 9 5/4/2010

There's an afternoon of accessible sports demonstrations including wheelchair curling being held in the John Rhodes Centre in Sault Ste Marie ON this Sunday May 9th from noon till 4 pm.

The event has been organised by the newly formed Sault Ste Marie Accessible Sports Counci with a grant from ParaSport Ontario.

Team Shinshu wins Japan National Champonship 5/3/2010

The Shinshu team from Nagano went undefeated in an 8 team field to win the 6th Japan National Wheelchair Curling Championship, held at the Sapporo Olympic Stadium in the Mika Hotai-ikukan April 9-11.

Japan will compete at the World Qualifying tournament later this year where the top two teams will join the top eight teams from the 2009 Worlds, for the 2011 World Championship, February 21 - March 3 in Prague.

Armstrong and son indicted by US grand jury  4/30/2010

UPDATE: May 8. The Arraignment, scheduled for May 6, was postponed. No word on when, or if, it will be rescheduled.

UPDATE: May 2. The U.S. Attorney's office issued a press release Friday. It can be read HERE.

More reporting by Bob Mackin of 24Hours HERE

CTV News website is reporting that Team Canada skip Jim Armstrong and his 28 year old son Gregory have been indicted by a grand jury in Seattle. They are accused of trafficking in counterfeit goods and selling and dispensing counterfeit drugs with the intent to mislead or defraud.

The charges carry a maximum 10-year prison sentence and $2-million fine. The two men have been released from custody on bonds, and are scheduled to appear in court again on May 6 for arraignment.

The complaint filed in USA vs. James Peter Armstrong   4/22/2010

The Vancouver.24hrs.ca website has a link to the formal complaint filed in US District Court, Case #MJ10-171 USA vs. James Peter Armstrong.

Armstrong skips lunch with Canada’s P.M.  4/22/2010

The Globe and Mail reported that Jim Armstrong decided not to travel with his team mates to Ottawa where they were scheduled to have lunch with Prime Minister Steven Harper prior to a special presentation to medalists from the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Coach Joe Rea told the Globe and Mail, “I thought it was a joke to begin with,” he said, adding that he received an e-mail from Mr. Armstrong when he arrived at work Wednesday saying everything was going to be okay and that he was going to be cleared.

“It's a very unfortunate situation right now, but I think he's going to sort through it.”

Team Canada skip arrested for trafficking in counterfeit goods 4/21/2010

Team Canada skip Jim Armstrong was arrested at a mail box service in Blaine Washington attempting to pick up a package containing 2,800 erectile dysfunction pills. He was charged with trafficking in counterfeit goods and accused of helping to distribute Chinese-made pills labelled as Viagra and Cialis, according to a report at seattlepi.com picked up by The Curling News.

"Speaking with investigators, Armstrong allegedly admitted to bringing multiple shipments of the drugs into Canada. He is alleged to have claimed he provided the drugs to another man, who in turn sold them at clubs in the Vancouver area.

Jailed following his arrest, Armstrong was released after posting bond on $20,000 bail. He is expected to return to U.S. District Court on April 30 for a preliminary hearing."

Were the charges to result in a conviction, it may affect Armstrong's future ability to travel to the USA.

Paralympic silver medalists inspire Olympian's $$$ donation 4/19/2010

Saying that she has cried for joy twice this year--when she won the gold medal at the Vancouver Olympics and when the Korean wheelchair curling team won the silver medal at the Vancouver Winter Paralympics - Olympic figure skating champion Kim Yu-na plans to donate her fee for appearing in a radio campaign for the rights of the disabled to the Korea Foundation for Persons with Disabilities.

Thank you  4/18/2010

I'd like to thank those who have made a donation to support the wheelchair curling website and blog. Because of you, most of the expenses of putting them online this year have been covered.

If you have been thinking about making a contribution in any amount, it's not too late. You can donate by credit card by clicking on the link on the front page of this website, or you can email me at eric@wheelchaircurling.com for my address if you'd prefer to send a cheque.

Knowing that my efforts are appreciated makes a difference not only to what I can do, but also to how motivated I feel to do it.



Cape Cod MA hosting summer spiel July 22-25 4/18/2010

A couple of years ago the Cape Cod CC undertook an extensive renovation of its 40 year old building, specifically to offer the opportunity for wheelchair users to participate in the club's activities.

This summer the club is hosting an international spiel and Team USA and Team Germany have already committed to attend, as well as several domestic American and Canadian teams.

Entry deadline has been extended and will now close May 9th. Contact Marc DePerno 315-737-2459 if you have any questions.

The club is situated in Falmouth, MA, 70 miles south of Boston. CLICK HERE for event details

Proposed rule changes need further study  4/18/2010

Prior to the World Curling Federation's meeting in Cortina April 7th, a lengthy document was circulated detailing proposed changes to the eligibility rules for wheelchair curling. The document attempted to describe in highly tyechnical language exactly what degree of disability would be necessary for an athlete to become eligible to compete in WCF sanctioned events such as the World Championships and the Paralympic Games.

The document attempted to draw a line somewhere between full-time wheelchair user and able-bodied, that included everyone with a significant disability affecting their lower limbs or gait such that a wheelchair would be necessary for them to curl.

The regulations would have to be sufficiently specific and clear to allow eligibility of athletes to be determined by a classifier, but also in the event of a dispute, provide objective criteria for an appeal panel to judge a classification decision.

At present there is no appeal protocol: the original classifier's opinion is final.

Under the new proposal, curlers would be given a designation of qualified, or not qualified, or qualified subject to future review. Decisions to accept or reject an athlete could be appealed to a panel of two classifiers not involved in the original decision.

It has, however, proven more complicated than expected to draw up clear and acceptable eligibility criteria, and the language in the original proposal was not accepted at the meeting and will be reviewed. The delay may mean that the new WCF rule book, due in June, will again not contain a procedure for appeal of an eligibility assessment.

This issue should be seen in the context of Michael McCreadie's concerns that wheelchair curling is fast becoming a sport played by amputees and low level paraplegics to the exclusion of more significantly disabled wheelchair users, and against the guiding principles of Paralympic sport.

Is it better for the future of wheelchair curling that the widest possible pool of potential participants be eligible to compete, or should it be. at least at the international level, a sport inclusive of a range of disabilities requiring wheelchair use? Is the decision different for countries with few facilities than for Canada with many?

Wheelchair curling administrators are already discovering that the definition of wheelchair user is complicated and subjective; and that's just the beginning.

News from British Columbia   4/18/2010

The Cranbrook Daily Townsman reports that Kimberley will host the 2011 BC Wheelchair Curling Championship from Feb. 3-6, 2011

"It's a natural fit," said club president Gord Jenkins, "given the types of improvements the club has made since its building was condemned a few years ago.

“When we did the renovations, we said, ‘Let's make this a barrier-free facility.'”
[read more]

The 2010 championship banner will hang in the Richmond CC as four of the five team members play there. The 2011 Worlds are scheduled for Prague February 21 - March 3, so it is possible that Sonja Gaudet, Ina Forrest and Jackie Roy will be available in 2011, potentially doubling the number of teams that may compete.

National silver medalist Alison Duddy was profiled in the Quesnel Cariboo Observer.

"For my first time out to the nationals, I’m happy,” Duddy said.“But at the same time there is a little bit of bittersweet.”

The sweet side of getting the silver medal Duddy said, was the one − two finish for the B.C. teams, and they did it on home ice in front of family and friends.

“[But] we had our chances in the gold medal game, unfortunately we just couldn’t pull it out.”

Duddy also acknowledged the play of opposing skip Cormack, particularly in the gold-medal game, as one of the highlights of the tournament.

“In one end we were sitting six and he had to make a perfect shot and he did to count one,” Duddy explained, adding Cormack did the very same thing in a subsequent end with her team sitting with five counters in the rings. [read more]

CurlBC is inviting applications for its High Performance program which is open to all players and coaches in BC. Details can be found HERE.

Finally, with Team Canada and the national championship final virtually all-BC affair, to what do you attribute BC's success, and what must happen outside of BC to broaden the spread of competitive honours?

Is it simply success breeding success? The presence of Jim Armstrong? What do you think?

News from the Scottish Wheelchair Curling Association  4/18/2010

The Royal Caledonian Curling Club, the national governing body for curling in Britain, has posted news from the AGM of the Scottish Wheelchair Curling Association.

After detailing changes in committee membership, the post continued:

There were interesting points made on various topics which will be followed up by the Committee.

The meeting closed with a vote of thanks to the Chair, and was followed by afternoon tea kindly hosted by South Lanarkshire Wheelchair Curling Club.

Alas, no mention of what was in the sandwiches.

Marc DePerno, USA team leader, wins Spirit Award  4/18/2010

Marc DePerno, team leader for the 2010 Paralympic wheelchair curling team, has received an O.C. Tanner Inspiration Award after being nominated by James Joseph.

The O.C. Tanner Inspiration Award honours those frequently left behind the scenes. Those who ignited the spark. Encouraged the dream. Awakened the quest for glory. It honours those who will never receive a medal of their own. But instead made it possible for someone else.

Read Jimmy's nomination letter.

Big win for wheelchair curlers at WCF meeting  4/7/2010

The World Curling Federation's semi-annual meetings have been held in Cortina this week, during the Men's World Championships. There were several important issues discussed that directly affect wheelchair users, and one indirect decision that may be just as influential in the long term.

First, the current ban on power wheelchairs has been lifted. As has been discussed on our blog, the ban served no equitable purpose. Power wheelchairs proffered no advantage to the athlete and imposed no burden on the ice. Removing the ban, in the absence of evidence that it served an explicable purpose, was overdue.

I do not have any details beyond the announcement, but I do know that the CCA was fully supportive of a lifting of the ban. I also know that the British team had been asked their opinion, and also supported allowing the use of power chairs in WCF competition.

While this decision is unlikely to mark an immediate influx of power chair users, it will have an impact on decisions made by national coaches. In my pre-Paralympic discussion with Team Canada coach Joe Rea he mentioned that the ban at WCF events influenced his decision about whether to work with power chair users at the national level.

Some time ago Great Britain skip Michael McCreadie circulated a discussion paper suggesting that rules changes needed to be made to ensure that a wider range of level of disability is represented in national teams. The power chair decision may indicate that his arguments are being heard.

The most dramatic news from Cortina was that sitting President Canadian Les Harrison has been deposed by his vice-President Kate Caithness of Scotland. While Les Harrison was cordial when I spoke to him last year, he referred all discussion of wheelchair curling to Kate Caithness.

There was also a detailed revision of eligibility rules for wheelchair curling presented at the meeting, but no news has surfaced yet.

Photos from the 2010 Canadian National Championships   3/29/2010

Scott Thompson took photos at the Championship and has posted them HERE.

A look back at the Paralympics  3/24/2010

Canada won their gold medal, Korea reawakened to the form that saw them runners-up at the 2008 Worlds, Sweden persevered past a miserable start and a tie-break day suspension of their last rock thrower, and USA did not quite go-all-the-way. The Richmond press hailed the Darryl and Jim show, while the Okanagan press celebrated Ina and Sonja and we all see what we want to see.

Read the rest of the article.

Looking back on the 2010 Canadian Nationals  3/23/2010

Ten teams of wheelchair curlers present significant logistical challenges to any venue hosting a Canadian National Wheelchair Curling Championship. Every organising committee works long and hard, fielding friendly and enthusiastic volunteers. This year's co-chairs Gerry Austgarden and Deanna Tuokko had the advantages of proximity of the host hotel to the curling club, the space for 50 plus wheelchairs to manoeuvre inside the club, a schedule that avoided a three draw day, and almost perfect weather.

Experience showed in the results. The top three teams all had ex-Team Canada members throwing fourth stones, and it was probably no co-incidence that the BC teams, Manitoba and Alberta, the teams that reached the play-offs, have the longest record of participation in the Championship, with mostly players experienced in week long competition. [read the rest of this article]

Canada repeat as gold medalists at Paralympics  3/20/2010

Canada saw off the semi-final challenge of a weakened Swedish team in the morning semi-final and then raced out to an early 8-1 lead at the break against Korea in the final. Then Korea took two, stole one, stole another one and were lying two with Canadian skip Jim Armstrong's last rock to come.

Four year's ago at Torino, Great Britain had last rock needing an open hit to win gold against Canada. In Vancouver, Armstrong needed an open hit to win the gold medal. The ParalympicSport.tv cameras focused on his face as he took his shot, and it took several seconds for the smile to appear as he realised that it was on line. Ina Forrest slapped him on the back in congratulation as Canada took out a Korean stone, giving up another steal, but posting an 8-7 win.

Sweden beat USA for the bronze.

Full results can be viewed on our Paralympics page

The BC Host team crowned National Champions  3/20/2010

The BC Host team won the all BC final of the 2010 Canadian National Wheelchair Curling Championships at the Kelowna CC this afternoon.

Gary Cormack (skip), Rich Green (3rd), Vince Miele (2nd) and alternating leads Corinne Jensen and Samantha Sui had the best record in the round robin, with their only loss to Nova Scotia. They also beat BC in the 1 vs 2 game in a testament to the depth of talent among wheelchair curlers in BC.

In the battle of Torino gold medalist 4th rock throwers, Gary Cormack's 63% shooting out-shone BC's Gerry Austgarden, and picked up a team that was outscored at every other position. He also saved them from disaster and a possible early exit in the second when his last rock came through a narrow port for shot with BC were lying 6.

You can read our notes as the play happened, on our blog.

Full results are available on our Nationals page.

Updates from Nationals and Paralympics 3/20/2010

Just back from the Nationals banquet, where Chester Draper of Northern Ontario won the Sportsmanship Trophy, and Arlene Ursel, Dennis Thiessen and Chris Sobkowicz of Manitoba and Martin Purvis of Alberta won places on the All-Star Team. Photographs are HERE.

The Nationals and the Paralympics results pages are up-to-date. News and commentary will be added later.

Brief notes from the Page playoff games at the Nationals can be found on the blog HERE.

Congratulations to Team Canada who held off a late rally by Korea to win the gold medal at the Paralympics. Final score 8-7.

The Nationals semi-final will begin 9.30 Sunday with the final at 2pm.

Swedish 4th rock thrower thrown out of Paralympics 3/19/2010

Glenn Ikonen, who began the Paralympics throwing third stones for Sweden before changing places with his skip Jalle Jungnell after Sweden's 0-3 start, has been banned for two years for failing a drug test. Though the ban is subject to appeal, he has been withdrawn for the remainder of the competition.

As reported in the Vancouver Sun, the news came just hours before the Swedish team was due to take on Italy in a tie-break to decide who faces Canada in Saturday's semi-final.

Alternate Patrik Kallin threw second, with Jungnell returning to 4th stones. Despite the off-ice drama, Sweden beat Italy 6-5, stealing 2 in the final end. With Sweden sitting shot on the 4 foot and second shot back 12, Italy's skip Tabanelli chose a takeout for the win rather than a draw to the 12 for a tie, and crashed on a front stone.

“Of course we were totally shocked and sorry for Glenn who played so well for us in the round robin,” said Jungnell “He felt he had done everything right about the medication. But Patrik [who shot 75 per cent] came in and did a good job for us. He plays for us in our normal club games back home. We knew he was a good player.”

Canada vs Sweden and USA vs Korea take place 10am Saturday, with the medal games beginning at 3.30.

For tables and schedule see our Paralympics page.

Nationals - Final Round Robin Draw  3/19/2010

On the final round robin day at t he Canadian Nationals in Kelowna BC it could have been a host committee nightmare 5-way tie for the fourth playoff spot, but at the end of the day only Alberta posted the necessary two wins to join BC Host, BC and Manitoba.

BC Host and Manitoba fought a war of attrition in the last draw, with singles all the way to the eighth end when suddenly the Host team were sitting 4 and Manitoba had to draw to the four foot to save the game. Chris Sobkowicz's draw was a little light and BC Host stole two for a 5-4 win. We watched the game and there are a few notes at the end of this post.

BC Host (8-1) will play BC (7-2) in the Page playoff 1 vs 2 game tomorrow, the winner going straight through to Sunday's 2PM final. The loser will play the 9.30AM Sunday semi-final against the winner of the 3 s 4 game, Manitoba (6-3) vs. Alberta (5-4).

Page playoff games start at 2pm Saturday.

For full scores and table go to our Nationals page.

Nationals Day 5 - Last playoff spot still open  3/19/2010

BC, BC HOST and Manitoba have qualified for Saturday's Page Playoffs at the 2010 Canadian Wheelchair Curling Nationals in Kelowna, BC.

In the battle of the top teams, BC HOST beat BC 7-1, stealing their way to a 6-0 lead after four. Manitoba dispatched Newfoundland and Labrador 12-0 and still have a chance to make the 1-2 Page Playoff game if they beat the host team this afternoon.

All the teams that entered the day with a chance to make the playoffs are still alive. Saskatchewan missed an opportunity to post a fifth win when they fell to Quebec 11-2. When we asked Quebec coach Al Whittier what he'd fed his team for breakfast, he said, "Good Quebec poutine."

Alberta beat Ontario 10-2 and Nova Scotia beat Northern Ontario 10-3. Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, with a win this afternoon, are guaranteed at least a tie-breaker. Ontario and Northern Ontario need all three of those teams to lose to have a four- or five-way tie-breaker.

Tie-break to decide who plays Canada in semi  3/18/2010

Italy played themselves into a tie-break with a spectacular last shot 8-7 win over Canada in the final round robin draw. In a replay of yesterday's game against Korea, Canada had shot stone on the button, and Jim Armstrong's attempt at a guard slightly over-curled. But while the Korean skip over-threw his take-out sending the stone wide, Italian skip Tabanelli threw a controlled weight hit and stick to score the winning point.

The result didn't change Canada's position as they were already guaranteed first place. They will play either Italy or Sweden, the only two teams to have beaten Canada this week.

Ina Forrest, who led all seconds during round robin, sat out to give her sore shoulder a rest and Alberta's Bruno Yizek had an opportunity to play.

Italy earned a tie-break game against a resurgent Sweden, who saw off Germany 10-3. Jens Jager sat out to give his alternate a game. Marcus Sieger skipped.

Great Britain finished on a win, 10-4 over Japan, with Michael McCreadie sitting in favour of alternate Jim Sellar. It's been a very disappointing tournament for the all Scottish rink, and hopefully Michael will not have ended his curling career on the bench.

Switzerland lifted themselves from the foot of the table with a win over Norway 10-4.

The tie-break game is at 2pm Friday, with the semi-finals on Saturday at 10am and the medal games at 3.30pm

Canadian Nationals - Draw 7 3/18/2010

Saskatchewan beat Chris Sobkowicz's Manitoba despite being 5-0 down at the break. Single steals in the 6th and 7th and a steal of 2 in the 8th brought a mighty cheer from the Saskatchewan supporters glued to the upstairs lounge window. Saskatchewan 2nd Marie Wright shot a game best 58% to her province in the fourth playoff spot. With two draws to go tomorrow, when they will play Quebec and Ontario, they are looking good to at least claim a tie-break.

Leaders BC were completely befuddled by inconsistent Alberta who stole a 6-0 lead after 5 ends. They almost let BC back into the game in the 5th when with BC sitting one behind a pile of front stones, Alberta skip opted to hit the BC shot stone rather than give up the one with a guard. His shot promoted a second BC stone, Gerry Austgarden pushed another into the rings through the opened port and with BC sitting 3 and a stone to come, Alberta were looking ruin in the face.

But Smart's last rock draw was just wide and heavy enough to wick off a stone at the edge of the 12 and roll to the button for shot, and another steal.

Ontario, flush from their morning trophy victory, took 5 in the opening end and spent the rest of the game giving it back, losing 9-7.

N. Ontario gave Quebec an early 3 point lead then posted a four and a couple of steals in an 8-6 win. BC Host went off to a 5 point lead against Newfoundland and Labrador, and won 6-4.

The two BC teams are guaranteed a playoff spot, with Manitoba needing to win just one of their games to join them. Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec are the only teams mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

For full scores and table go to our Nationals page.

Cameron wins John McCrae Trophy in battle of Ontarios 3/18/2010

A Canadian National Championship is a fine thing, but pride was at stake when Northern Ontario played Ontario, or Southern Ontario as the Ficek rink called them, for the John McCrae Trophy. This year Bruce Cameron's team repossessed it, winning 7-5 on the strength of a 4 spot just before the break.

BC continued their unbeaten cruise to the playoffs, 10-2 over slumping Newfoundland and Labrador. Alberta continued to disappoint their traveling fans, losing to a very serious and self-possessed Manitoba side 7-5.

Saskatchewan scored the last 9 points of the game, overcoming a 7-1 deficit to beat Nove Scotia, and BC Host, despite swapping 4 in the opening end, ran out easy winners over Quebec, 12-5

Canada and USA qualify for playoffs 3/17/2010

In a game that would decide who stood at the top of the table with one day of round robin play to go, Canada (7-1) beat Korea (5-3) by a somewhat flattering score of 6-4.

Canada's steal of one in the second, when a Korean attempted pick buried a Canadian stone on the button, was the difference until the final end. Canada had shot stone buried behind seven stones. Korea called time out. Their options were a fancy double run back, or throw a bomb onto the pile and see what happened.

Korea have the reputation for throwing big weight though they have succeeded by drawing when they had to. This time they chose the big weight option. and they managed to open a port to shot stone.

Jim Armstrong attempted to block it but his draw over-curled. A straight hit and stick by Korea would have left Canada with a tricky shot to save the game. But skip Haksung Kim, revved from his previous shot, over-threw when what was needed was a controlled weight take-out. The shot sailed wide and Canada could smile for the first time in the evening.

USA (6-2) lost a rock on a measurement in the second against Japan, but still posted a six and won 8-2. Italy ruined Norway's hopes of a playoff spot, despite throwing away a 7-2 lead in the eighth. They took 2 in the extra to win 9-7.

Korea, Sweden, Germany and Italy will play for the remaining playoff spots tomorrow. For tables and schedule see our Paralympics page.

Draw 5 Nationals - Team Canada alumni leading the way 3/17/2010

The teams with Team Canada players throwing last rocks remain at the top of the table as we pass half-way of the Canadian National Championships in Kelowna BC.

Quebec had a chance to upset unbeaten BC. They went into the 4th end break 2-1 ahead and in the 6th were lying 4 with skip stones to come. BC coach Al Moore, husband of TV curling pundit Linda Moore, was waving frantically at the upstairs window signalling for his team to call a time-out (rules state that time-outs can only be called on the ice). Gerry Austgarden's attempted draw was short of the front guards.

Quebec skip Ben Lessard attempted to throw a guard but hogged his stone, and Austgarden made no mistake with his final stone, coming into the rings for shot. Lessard attempted to hit it, but threw wide, giving up a steal and a lead that BC never surrendered. Final score 5-2, with BC stealing singles in each of the last 4 ends.

Alberta struggled for most of their match against the tournament's tough luck side, Nova Scotia. Jack Smart showed his lack of confidence in his draw weight when in the 4th he attempted a tap with half the house open. "It was a good choice, it was lined up," coach Tony Zummack said, though it resulted in a Nova Scotia steal.

Nova Scotia had taken one in the first and then stole the next four ends to go ahead 6-0. Alberta took their 4 points in the 6th when Smart played a tricky hit to promote 3 stones into scoring position. It was Alberta's one success as they came up on the short end of a 6-4 scoreline.

When Saskatchewan win they win big, 11-3 over Newfoundland and Labrador who have come back to earth with a bump after opening the competition with a 13-3 win.

BC Host relied on a 4 in the sixth to counter a series of singles by Ontario. Their 6-5 win keeps them tied with Manitoba, who beat N. Ontario 8-5, a game back of BC.

For full scores and table go to our Nationals page

Draw 4 Canadian Nationals BC keep rolling; Quebec get a win 3/17/2010

BC are showing the depth of their curling talent, posting their fourth win without their skip and lead from the two previous years. Mind you they do have Torino gold medalist Gerry Austgarden throwing last rocks and adding his experience to the game calling.

This morning they beat Nova Scotia 7-5 on the strength of a 4 in the 3rd. Nova Scotia pulled to within one with a steal of two in the 7th but could not repeat as BC took their single, and the game, in the final end.

Nova Scotia, after a first round walloping by Newfoundland and Labrador, have played tough, with a win over Gary Cormack's BC Host side, and narrow losses to BC and Manitoba, both very experienced sides.

Quebec were blown out in their first two games, but took Alberta to an extra end in Game 3 and this morning went one better. 5-4 over Newfoundland. A three in the 3rd helped in a game of singles.

BC Host beat Sakatchewan 9-5 and share second spot in the table with Manitoba, who stole 5 in the 2nd against Ontario and won 10-3.

N. Ontario beat Alberta 8-4, two steals of two making the difference.

For full scores and table go to our Nationals page

Canada back on top with 15-1 win over Switzerland 3/16/2010

Canada (5-1) weren't affected by less than 50% shooting from their skip as the rest of the team shot better than 70% in the 15-1 dismantling of Switzerland (2-4). A 5 just before the break started the rout and a 6 in the 6th ended it early.

Norway (3-3) beat Japan (2-4) 11-3 and Germany (3-3) stole a single in the 8th to edge Italy (2-4) 7-6.

In the evening draw USA (4-2) blew a chance to at least tie their game against Sweden in the eighth. Sitting one with skip stones to come, they chose to chase the Swedish 2nd shot stone that was on the edge of the 12, rather than coming anywhere full 12 to sit two. The stone flashed and Sweden hit shot stone to run USA out of rocks.

Sweden (3-3) have won three in a row; beating Norway, Canada and USA to work themselves very much back into contention. Promoting Glenn Ikonen to 4th stones appears to have worked, as skip Jalle Jungnell continues to struggle, but no longer with last rocks.

Great Britain (2-4) avoided a 5th defeat, beating Germany  9-2 and can still say they have a chance at a playoff spot. Korea (4-2) pulled level with USA and one game behind leaders Canada beating Italy 9-3, and Japan edged Switzerland (2-4) 6-5 in an extra end.

With three matches to play in the round robin, every team still has a chance of making the playoffs.

Line scores and tables on our Paralympics page

Day 2 - Canadian Nationals Draw 3  3/16/2010

Ontario (2-1) stole the first 4 points to go ahead of Newfoundland and Labrador (1-2) 5-3 at the break. Whatever it was they ate, it came back to bite Newfoundland as Ontario scored another 9 points for a 14-5 win.

BC (3-0) continued their unbeaten record. They stole 2 in the 4th to go ahead of Saskatchewan (1-2) 4-2 and gave up just a couple of singles in the second half while scoring 3 and winning 7-3.

BC Host (2-1) stole 2 in the 5th and 1 in the 6th to beat N. Ontario (1-2) 6-4. Third Mark Wherrett was the only N. Ontarian with better than 50% shooting, but he was bested by opposing 3rd Rich Green who shot 59% for the host team.

Quebec (0-3) finally found the rings and took an early 5-1 lead over Alberta (2-1) but gave back 5 in steals in the second half. They scored 3 to tie Alberta in the 8th but in the extra end without the hammer, conceded a single and lost 9-8.

Manitoba (2-1) with steals of two in ends 2 and 3 opened an early 5-0 lead over Nova Scotia (1-2) but a steal of 3 in the 5th brought the bluenosers level. They couldn't hang on though, dropping a 7-6 decision.

For line scores check our National Championship page.

Day 2 - Canadian Nationals - Draw 2  3/16/2010

Defending champions BC had all they could handle in their morning draw against the rookies from Ontario and the decisive play was with skip stones in the 8th end.

Ontario had hammer down one, and were sitting at least 3 with no obvious way into the house for BC. After a timeout, BC decided on a long run back, which though didn't threaten shot stones, did open a narrow port.

Ontario attempted to block it with a guard that was over-curled enough to widen the port, and Gerry Austgarden threw an up-weight hit on shot stone back 4. He had to stick and he did. Bruce Cameron attempted to follow him down to at least force an extra end, but was light and BC won 8-6.

Though his overall statistics were not impressive, Austgarden made key shots and saved the game. For Ontario, Doug Morris at 3rd threw an impressive 69% to set up his skip, but it came down to a single tough but makeable last rock that didn't reach its target.

BC are the only team to have won both their matches, while Quebec are still looking for their first win after being blanked by Manitoba 9-0.

In other games Nova Scotia beat BC Host 8-6, Alberta downed Saskatchewan 8-4 and N. Ontario brought Newfoundland and Labrador back to earth with a 10-1 win.

USA tied at top of table as Canada crash to Sweden 3/15/2010

It too an extra end after USA surrendered 3 in the 8th against Great Britain (1-4), but USA (4-1) pulled out an 8-7 win to tie Canada at the top of te table at the end of Day 3 at the Paralympic Games.

Canada (4-1) surrendered their unbeaten record in an 8-4 loss to Sweden. Read match report HERE. Norway stopped Korea's momentum, winning 9-6 and Germany lost to  Switzerland 9-3.

Michael McCreadie said after the team's 4th loss (to USA) "It can be a cruel game at times. Although we are losing the team dynamics remain strong. Aileen is an excellent last rock thrower. There's such a small margin between winning and losing, but we are still thinking playoffs if we can win the rest of the way. The ice was very swingy today, but we just have to adapt to the conditions."

Read article on McCreadie by Lyndon Little HERE

Heavy ice was also on Swedish skip Jalle Jungnell;s mind,though he pulled off wins over two favoured sides today (Norway and Canada). "We tried to play our normal game, "he said, "butwe've been struggling with the ice. It's so heavy."

That was a sentiment echoed by Norwegian skip Rune Lorentsen. “It’s tricky ice. I don’t know the feel of the rocks. We do the same things as other teams but our rocks don’t behave the same. It makes us a little unsure. [Against Sweden] we always play crappy matches. No good play and we were very nervous.”

Table leaders Canada and USA each play a single game tomorrow; Canada against Switzerland in the morning and USA against Sweden in the evening.

Full details of all the draws can be found by following the links on our front page.

Day 1 - Nationals - BC and Manitoba play an extra end 3/15/2010

Defending champions BC defeated Manitoba 7-6 in the opening game of the Canadian National Championships in Kelowna. We posted some notes on the blog as we watched the game. The ice grew steadily heavier until it was taking 11 second hog to hog to come just short of the rings.

The extra end saw an empty house as every stone fell short until Austgarden managed to get the last rock of the game through the pile and get it to stop just touching the rings back 12 to score the winning point.

The BC Host team skipped by Gary Cormack swapped singles with Alberta until a steal in ends 7 and 8 saw them pull ahead 6-3.

Saskatchewan landed a 5 on N. Ontario in the 6th en route to a 10-5 win. Newfoundland took 5 in the 1st against Nova Scotia and never looked back, winning 13-3, the same score Ontario, the one totally rookie squad posted against Quebec.

Full details of all the draws can be found by following the links on our front page.

BC vs Manitoba marquee matchup Day 1 of Canadian Nationals 3/15/2010

BC, the only provincial team to have won a Canadian National title, will open their defense against last year's bronze medalists Manitoba in the opening draw, 7.30 PM at the Kelowna CC.

Last year's BC skip, Jim Armstrong, is playing for his country in Vancouver so Torino gold medalist Gerry Austgarden will be throwing last rocks for the BC provincial champions. Frank LaBounty throws third with skip Whitney Warren at second and rookie Alison Duddy replacing Jackie Roy at lead. Austgarden is holding the broom the first two ends with Warren holding for 3rd and 4th stones.

"Everyone knows what they're doing, what their role is," LaBounty assured me at the players' reception last night.

Manitoba will be looking for the breakthrough that get's them into a final game. They have Chris Sobkowicz at skip, who made Team Canada at last year's Worlds at the expense of Austgarden and BC Host skip Gary Cormack. George Horning comes in at second replacing Michael Alberg.

Other machups: BC Host vs Alberta, Quebec vs Ontario, Newfoundland vs Nova Scotia, and N. Ontario vs Saskatchewan.

Tonight draw begins at 7.30 after the opening ceremonies. There will be two draws a day tomorrow through Friday at 9.30 and 2 pm.

Student reporter tells Team Canada stories 3/15/2010

Lisa Odland, a Students Live reporter, has posted the back stories of the Team Canada members on her West Coast Kid blog, including a short video interview with Sonja Gaudet. Read and watch it HERE.

Inside the head of Team USA skip Goose Perez  3/15/2010

Last season the rap on the American skip was that he was a talented thrower who was perhaps too much of a prima donna for the good of the team.

That seems to have changed this year as he has grown into his role and learned more about the game. The increasing role of no-nonsense Army vet Patrick McDonald in the team may also have had an influence.

It's certainly a more humble Perez who appears in this interview, which gives a good insight into what goes through his mind as he skips his team. Read it HERE.

Canada not distracted by Norway's pants  3/14/2010

Norway entered the ice wearing turquoise and white checkered pants that the late Payne Stewart would have been proud to wear at the 19th hole on a sunny day. They have always played Canada tough, and today was no exception as they went out to an early 3-0 lead after 3 ends and held a one point advantage with hammer going into the 8th.

Jim Armstrong threw a perfect guard with his first stone and then came around with his last stone to sit two. Norwegian skip Rune Lorentsen crashed on the guard to give Canada a 6-4 win. Match report HERE

Lindon Little's report in the Vancouver Sun suggests that Canada needed every bit of Jim's ice-reading experience to counter difficult ice conditions; heavy with huge late swing. Norway protested the result of a measurement, a protest that was denied after video review.

USA played Germany, the team that robbed them of a medal at last year's Worlds. Germany stole the first 4 points, but USA played patiently and scored singles in the last three ends to take the game 6-5. Match report HERE.

USA skip said: "I have nothing but praise for our team. In the second end we made some mistakes and missed an easy draw. But I said to the guys that we have to believe we can still make it, even though we were four points down. If we get steals of one or two, we'll be fine."

A disappointed Jens Jager bemoaned his last shot: "On my last takeout I was too slow. It was a good match and we had control. I was just too slow on the last one."

Korea beat Japan 7-5 and Italy brutalised Switzerland 13-4 in six ends in the other morning draws.

Switzerland didn't fare any better in the evening against Great Britain who finally posted a win, staying close through the break before stealing a key four points in the fifth end and winning 10-2.

Italy posted their second win of the day, 9-1 over a hapless Swedish side struggling to find their first win and the form that won silver against the same teams a year ago.

For full results and line scores visit our Vancouver Paralympics page.

The Canadian Nationals - who's going to win?  3/14/2010

Bookmark the 2010 Nationals page for results

The 2010 Canadian Nationals begin tomorrow with nine provincial and one host team making up the field.

Defending champions BC do not have Jim Armstrong or Jackie Roy, but have added Torino gold medalist Gerry Austgarden at 4th stones. BC's host team also figures to be stronger than previous hosts with another Torino Paralympian, Gary Cormack, at skip.

Ontario are the rookie team but went through the most challenging qualifying championship, and have also made an effort to travel as a team to gain competition experience. Skip Bruce Cameron has worked as hard as anyone to further the cause of wheelchair curling and beat tough opposition to get to Kelowna, but is untested in a long event

Alberta is also a team that traveled this season, competing in the Richmond Cashspiel. Anne Hibberd returns to the side after being unable to travel to last year's event. She replaces Bruno Yizek who is watching Team Canada from the bench.

Kenoran Wayne Ficek again defeated his Thunder Bay rivals and has had a year to build experience. Manitoba have one change this year, with George Horning replacing Michael Alberg.

Newfound and Labrador's Joanne MacDonald is the one female skip, moving from 3rd to take the place of Chris Daw, now commentating on Paralympic TV. Saskatchewan make one change, at alternate, and Nova Scotia have a new lead, Debbie Earle. Quebec brings two females in the squad that welcomes Ben Lessard back from injury.

So who will win? There has only ever been two winners of the Canadian National Championships; Team Canada through 2006 and then Team BC. Is this the year to see Manitoba step up? They looked unhappy at times last year and have a new coach this year. Alberta have the experience but Anne Hibberd has to show she can play third.

BC have experience despite their rookie lead. If they can work out whose team it is and what role each player has, they'll do well. And Northern Ontario have the fire to improve on the disappointment of last year's playoff loss.

Comments are open for who you think will make the playoffs.

Paralympics - Day 1  3/13/2010

By the end of the first day of competition, many of the questions that had invited speculation in the build-up to the Vancouver Paralympic Games seemed settled.

Jim Armstrong was not only fit to play, but his team avoided the shaky start that nearly cost them at last year's Worlds. They hammered Great Britain 9-2 in the opening draw, and then ran ahead of USA in the evening 8-2 at the break before closing out a 10-5 win to post a 2-0 record.

Great Britain had something to prove; that their delivery position experiment could pay dividends a year after a disastrous Worlds, and that the combination of Michael McCreadie skipping from 3rd while Aileen Neilson threw last rocks, could produce wins.

Their decisive loss to Canada and the narrower last end loss to Norway will not help their confidence, though it will have come at a good time for Norway who in Draw 1 threw away a 6-4 lead over Germany by giving up 6 in the 7th end of a 10-6 loss.

Sweden came in with a new coach, Tomas Nordin, and it was to be seen whether he could add the missing ingredient that might convert last year's solver medal into gold. They suffered a 7-6 loss to Switzerland in the early draw, then played Korea tight through 5 ends before falling apart, and suffering a total meltdown in the final end. Down 2, they threw 5 complete misses and left looking dejected, losing 8-4. It will take all Nordin's experience to rebuild  the smiles from the team who last year at least looked as though they were enjoying themselves.

USA, despite giving up two 3-enders stole a comfortable 9-6 win over Korea in the opening draw, and while it is never pleasant to give up a 4, and 4 more to consecutive steals playing Canada, who they beat in round robin play last year, they will probably feel their day was worthwhile, and their biggest hurdle behind them.

Germany played just one game and must feel, with their winning 6-spot, that their luck has carried over from their last shot at the 2009 Worlds. And in the battle of the unknowns, Japan, with 75 year old Takashi Hidai at second, beat Italy 9-6.

Canada play Norway in Draw 3 their only game on Day 2.

New to wheelchair curling? Watch this video  3/13/2010

BBC Sport has a series of videos introducing wheelchair curling and also the members of the wheelchair curling team.

Michael McCreadie, skip of Team Great Britain, was the only curler to be given the honour of carrying his nation's flag at the Opening Ceremonies of the Vancouver Paralympics.

In the video [see blog] he gives a full explanation of how wheelchair curling is played, ending with encouragement for people to come out and try the sport. There's lots of people who will help, he says, concluding:" Give me a call and I'll turn up also."

One interesting note from the video: they edited in the last rock thrown by Frank Duffy from the Torino Games, where Great Britain had an open hit to win gold. It starts at 2.00 into the video.

Other videos including video profiles of Team GB curlers, can be found HERE.

Team USA give lessons in Robson Square  3/12/2010

The coach and members of Team USA gave some lessons to on-lookers in Robson Square.

[from Inside Vancouver blog] Out on the Robson Square ice, members of the Team USA wheelchair curling squad were giving a demonstration and free lesson. Onlookers with disabilities made their way into the rink and formed a circle of wheelchairs around the American coach, who explained the basics of “rocks,” “houses” and keeping score. Watching the demonstration – with kids in wheelchairs and on crutches taking turns slinging 42-pound curling stones down the ice – I got a glimpse into a little of what Paralympic competition is about: inclusion, optimism and improvisation.

Information pages for Paralympics and Nationals  3/12/2010

I have created pages for the statistics of the matches played at the Vancouver Paralympics and the Kelowna Nationals.

I will attempt to update them at least daily. I will also write and link to news items as I have time. Those will likely appear first on the wheelchair curling blog.

There will be some coverage of wheelchair curling on Paralympic Sport TV where 2006 gold medal skip Chris Daw will be providing commentary. The CCA have announced they will be posting information on Team Canada on their website. They also have a space on their site for information from the Nationals.

The best way to keep in touch with what coverage may be available on this site and the blog, is to follow WheelChairCurl on Twitter.

Highland Wheelchair CC give-it-a-go in Inverness March 16 3/12/2010

Highland Wheelchair Curling Club are inviting wheelchair users and those with mobility impairments to a come and try event at Inverness Ice Centre on Tuesday 16th March between 1.30-3.30pm.

Those taking part will be given an introduction to the sport, a lesson on the ice, while also having a go at the Hot Shots competition, which is part of the Try Curling initiative that is being run this month by the Royal Caledonian Curling Club.

For further information, or to book a place at the event contact Mo Simpson, secretary of Highland Wheelchair Curling Club, on 01463 716227 or 0779 871 0404.

Gaudet and Armstrong make Macleans Top 10 3/12/2010

Team Canada lead Sonja Gaudet and skip Jim Armstrong make the Macleans.ca 10 Paralympians to watch.

Takashi Hidai, at 75 this year's oldest Paralympian  3/11/2010

[Information from the Tokyo Five blog]

Takashi Hidai plays 2nd for Japan and at 75 years old is not only the oldest person to ever join the Japanese Paralympics Team, but will be the oldest competitor at the Vancouver Games.

When he was 31 years old, he was working in Tokyo as an electrician on a construction site when a crane fell on him, paralyzing him from the waist down.

He credits the love of his wife and daughter (who was three years old at the time) with helping maintain his positive attitude after his tragedy.

He is an accomplished archer, traveling to England in 2005 to compete in the World Archery Championship.

“Being 70 years old (at the time), I was really surprised to make it to the World Championships!” he said.

About five years ago, an acquaintance who participated in a local Wheelchair Curling workshop suggested Mr. Hidai try curling. He doubted that he would be able to maneuver his wheelchair on ice at the age of seventy, let alone compete against people forty or fifty years younger than him, but now excels at it.

Takashi Hidai lost his daughter, whom he said constantly encouraged him with a smile, nineteen years ago from cancer. She was only 28 years old and had just became a mother.

He wishes she was still here to encourage him when he plays at the 2010 Paralympics in Canada next month.

"If I don’t have headache, I didn’t think hard enough" - Perez 3/11/2010

Team USA's Augusto 'Goose' Perez says he loves skipping. “It makes me think. If I don’t come off the ice with a headache, I didn’t think hard enough,” he told Grant Granger of the Abbotsford News. Read the article HERE.

The USA team trained at the Abbotsford CC at the invitation of Linda Kirton, who will be taking the oath on behalf of the officials at the Paralympic Opening Ceremony tomorrow evening.

Goose took (friendly) exception to my suggestion in the Paralympic preview that he loves the hero shot.

"If we end up wih a tough shot either because of misses or errors in game calling on my part, then i am ready to take responsibility. I have always avoided the hero shot which may win you games but not championships. The fact is that in the past by our own mistakes, probably mostly in errors of mine in calling the game, we have found ourselves in a spot to throw not the shot we wish but the one we had to. One thing is right, if it needs to be thrown i don't shy away if that's the only choice we see. Remember most heroes end up dead!"

Team Newfoundland & Labrador at RE/MAX Centre tonight  3/11/2010

Joanne MacDonald, the onlu female skipping a provincial team, will be demonstrating wheelchair curling at the RE/MAX Centre, home of the St. John's CC, this evening.

Aileen Neilson's Paralympic Diary  3/11/2010

Team Great Britain's Aileen Neilson, who throws 4th stones for skip Michael McCreadie, will be writing a diary for the East Kilbride News.

"It was quite a surreal moment, but this was when I knew I had arrived at the Paralympic Games.

Picking up my accreditation card for the Games was an amazing feeling and when I saw my name on that card with the Paralympic emblem on it, I knew I was ready to enjoy and savour every moment of my time in Vancouver."

Read the rest of the first instalment HERE. Great Britain play Canada in the opening draw this Saturday (March 13) and I know I'll be looking for that entry.

World Curling Federation media coverage of Paralympics 3/11/2010

The World Curling Federation will not have their media person at the Paralympics. Joanna Kelly, who took over from The Curling News' George Karys, is in Flims Switzerland covering the World Juniors. Dan Field will be the WCF media person in Vancouver.

Here's their Paralympic Preview media release.

Paralympic preview and predictions 3/10/2010

Play begins at the 2010 Paralympic Games on Saturday when host team Canada takes on the nine nations with the best record over the past three World Championships. Japan, mostly on the basis of a 5th place in 2007, replace China, late-comers to international play, in the one change from the ten teams who competed at the 2009 Worlds in the same venue.

Read my analysis of the teams and their prospects on the blog entry  HERE, where you can also view some photos and add your own predictions to the comments.

Your support does make a difference  3/10/2010

With the Paralympics and the Canadian Nationals almost upon us, I've had several emails asking what I will be doing for the benefit of those family and fans unable to attend the events.

Nothing's free, even if sometimes it feels that way. Had 10% of the regular readership donated $10 at some point this season, Cate and I would be going to Vancouver and giving you the insider perspective that comes from painstakingly building relationships with the coaches and players of all the countries, not just Canada.

So will we be covering the Nationals instead; after all they are taking place just down the road?

That would just be a couple of hundred hours of Cate and my time. What's that time worth to you?

If you'd like to express your appreciation for the past five years of the website, and the past two years of the blog, click on the Donation button on the front page to send a donation in any amount via Cate's PayPal account.

Armstrong hoping exposure will boost sport  3/9/2010

"We'll probably enjoy a bit of spinoff ... and get some exposure that otherwise might have taken years to get. And wheelchair curling is a very entertaining game, it truly is," Jim Armstrong told the Canadian Press.

Read the full interview HERE.

Armstrong wins Sport BC Harry Jerome Comeback award  3/8/2010

Sport BC today announced that Jim Armstrong, skip of the reigning World Champion and defending Paralympic Champion wheelchair curling team, has been awarded the Sport BC Harry Jerome Comeback award.

"Each year the recipient embodies the qualities that make sport so compelling,” said Rick Christiaanse, Executive Vice-President of Sport BC. "Jim Armstrong is no exception. Throughout his athletic career, Jim’s knowledge, sportsmanship and dedication to his sport have elevated the level of both able-bodied and wheelchair curling.”

“We are proud to present him with this award as a tribute to his journey.”

The award will be presented March 31, 2010 at the 44th Annual Sport BC Athlete of the Year Awards. Armstrong will be honoured for his long road back to amateur sport alongside 19 other athletes, coaches, and officials who represent BC’s best.

You can read full details of the announcement HERE.

Jim has known about the award for a couple of weeks, but asked me not to publicise it. "I'm hoping they'll wait till after the Paralympics," he told me, "so it won't be a distraction."

It may be a distraction, but it's certainly an honour.

Coverage of Paralympic wheelchair curling  3/8/2010

Last year at the 2009 Worlds, Cate and I live-blogged and reported every Canadian match. We were able to do that because the CCA helped with our expenses.

We had hoped to do something similar at the Paralympics, but despite approaching every possible source of funding, we were not able to cover accommodation and on-site costs. A couple of offers of accommodation did not materialise, so although we have media accreditation, it doesn't look as though we will be attending Canada's defence of their Paralympic gold medal.

The television consortium that covered the Olympics will be producing 25 hours of English language Paralympic programming, almost all devoted to sledge hockey and an evening highlight show.

As far as I know, the only live media coverage of wheelchair curling will be on Paralympic Sport TV

The schedule is on a pdf document at this link.

While it is personally disappointing not to be able to continue the work we bagan at last year's Worlds and take advantage of the relationships we established with athletes and coaches from all the teams, we can't force perceptions of value where they don't exist.

The website and blog have been around just long enough for the service they provide to be taken for granted. We have several thousand readers every week, and no income.

So it goes.

Jim Armstrong "his sport and what it's taught him about life" 3/8/2010

Canada skip Jim Armstrong tells the Vancouver Sun's Yvonne Zacharias: "Yeah, I'm crippled."

Q: What have you learned about yourself and life from this journey?

A: Everybody in the program has their own story. Some have had experiences most of us don't have to deal with in a lifetime. But the silver lining is everybody leaves their ego at the door. You have that common thread of how we got into that position of whatever disability it is. There is that common bond. It just makes everybody that much closer.

Read the interview HERE

Ina Forrest and Sonja Gaudet talk about the Paralympics  3/7/2010

Team Canada 2nd Ina Forrest tells The Vernon Morning Star these Games will mean so much more because her family will be there to watch her. She relished having that experience last year at worlds.

“It was fabulous to have your family attend and see what it is you do. It makes it that much more exciting for yourself.”

Lead Sonja Gaudet says “The experience I had in Torino is a benefit for me. Until I went there I didn’t know how I was going to react in those (big game) situations.

“I’m pretty good at that anyway, blocking out distraction and using distraction in a positive light. To me that’s all good.”

Read what else they had to say HERE

Toronto Star - There's no hard and fast rule for who can play  3/7/2010

Toronto Star reporter Daniel Girard re-works the "curling's healing power" storyline covering Jim Armstrong's re-emergence from the ashes of a career blighted by physical injury.

He also acknowledges controversy over how Jim gets around, "because, unlike most other wheelchair sports, curling's international governing body does not have a hard and fast rule for who qualifies."

WCF eligibility rules, or ambiguous written guidelines? You decide.

GB's McCreadie hints at retirement (again)  3/6/2010

Four years ago, just after Great Britain saw the gold medal they had been favourites to win, flash away with their last rock. skip Frank Duffy and 3rd Michael McCreadie announced their retirement from competitive wheelchair curling.

Frank did quit, but Michael, who'll be 64 on March 16th, soon re-stoked the competitive fires. Next week extends a Paralympic career that began in the pool 38 years ago in ago in Heidelberg, Germany, and continued with bowls, wheelchair basketball and now curling.

"It's good to know that talent is still there from way back then," he told The Press Association's Matt McGeehan.

"(Vancouver gold) would be one of the greatest achievements of my career and maybe a good time to say bye-bye."

Read the interview HERE.

Team Korea training in Mission, BC 3/4/2010

The high demand for ice time shunted the Korean team from their usual Richmond or New Westminster training sites, inland to Mission BC this week, prior to the team moving into the athlete's village over the weekend.

Moo Lee, a Canadian-Korean immigrant who has been helping Korean teams train and compete in Canada, told bclocalnews.com that the team was happy that not only were Missionites hospitable and friendly, but their ice is up to the quality that Olympians expect.

Watch USA train in Abbotsford March 9  3/4/2010

Team USA will again be using the Abbotsford Curling Club as a pre-competition training facility and will hold an open practice session on Tuesday March 9 from 9am till 2 pm with a short break for lunch.

"It's a big deal for our club," said Club Manager Tracy Sones, telling the Abbotsford News that the team had visited her club prior to the World Championships last February.

Canadian wheelchair curlers win Team Of The Year Award  3/3/2010

The Canadian wheelchair curling team was named Team Of The Year after winning the 2009 World Championship.

The True Sport Foundation's award was presented at the 37th Canadian Sports Awards, March 3rd in Toronto, recognising the country's top amateur athletes. The winners were chosen by an independent jury and were selected over the men’s IIHF world championship squad and the national women’s water polo team.

Ina Forrest, Chris Sobkowicz and Team Leader Wendy Morgan attended the luncheon.

Canada lead Sonja Gaudet to carry torch  3/3/2010

The Canadian Paralympic Committee has selected Team Canada lead Sonja Gaudet as one of 25 torch bearers to take part in the Paralympic Torch Relay for the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.

"These individuals have been selected for their outstanding contribution to the Paralympic Movement.

"Sonia Gaudet is on the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic wheelchair curling team and is the only returning member of the Canadian team that struck gold in Torino, Italy when wheelchair curling made its debut at the 2006 Paralympic Games. Since Torino, she has continued in her winning ways by taking home a gold medal from the 2009 World Championships. She is an ambassador with the Rick Hansen Foundation, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, and VANOC, where she uses the power of sport and her experience of overcoming challenges to motivate and inspire people of all ages."

Click HERE for full list

Wheelchair curling "so much friendlier than regular curling" - Armstrong  3/3/2010

"Everybody is here after going through their own personal difficulties," Armstrong, who was a dentist but sounds like a fair psychologist, told The Vancouver Sun's Kent Gilchrist. "They've been through some of life's reality, and egos are checked at the door.

"It's so much friendlier than able-bodied curling."

Read the whole interview HERE.

The man behind Armstrong's re-emergence 3/2/2010

Canwest's Kent Gilchrist adds a twist to the now familiar story of Team Canada skip Jim Armstrong's return to the ice, suggesting Gerry Peckham, an old teammate and now CCA High Performance Director, will deserve a medal for recruiting Armstrong to the program.

"He may not be on the podium with Armstrong .. but he won't be far away with a block-wide grin pasted on his face. For Peckham, who hooked up with Armstrong to win back-to-back B.C. men's able-bodied titles in 1973 with Jack Tucker skipping and in '74 with Armstrong on the teeline, is as responsible as anyone for getting Armstrong out of his easy chair and into wheelchair curling."

Read the article HERE

When it was announced that Jim would join the training squad, initially as an on-ice consultant, Peckham expressed surprise that any Canadian would object. Two year's later Peckham can indeed take credit for persevering past initial eligibility doubts, and injecting 40+ years of experience at skip, in a sport not yet a decade old.

USA's Jimmy Joseph hoping for gold for daughter's birthday 3/2/2010

Jimmy Joseph told the Herkimer Evening Telegram the Paralympic final falls on his daughter’s third birthday. “Hopefully, I’ll be playing for a gold medal to bring her home as a present,” he said.

Read the full profile HERE

Learn to curl in Austin, Texas  3/2/2010

Last weekend's Learn to Curl session at the Chapparral Ice Center in Austin, Texas, brought out over 400 people, so the club is holding another session Sunday March 7th at 9.30 am.

“I think there’s potential here just to try a sport that really works for every age group or physical ability,” club member Janet Hunter told The Daily Texan. “We have people curling from age 8 to 80, even wheelchair curling.”

Read more about Austin’s Lone Star Curling Club.

Gary Cormack to talk about his Torino gold medal  3/1/2010

Gary Cormack, who played second for Team Canada 2005-2008 and won a gold medal at the 2006 Torino Paralympics, is giving a talk about his journey to the podium.

The multimedia presentation for the whole family is at the Surrey (BC) Museum on Saturday, March 6 from 1-2 p.m. Details HERE.

Cormack was drafted into the Chris Daw led team in 2005 when Ontario's Bruce McAninch left the program. In addition to his Paralympic medal he won a Canadian national title with Team Canada in 2006, and also participated in the 2007 and 2008 World Championships.

He will skip the 2010 BC Hosts team at the Canadian Nationals in Kelowna BC starting March 15th.

BBC Sport introduces GB's professional wheelchair curlers 2/27/2010

The BBC sent a reporter to Stirling to watch Team GB prepare for the Paralympics. As he mentions, curling is the winter Olympic sport that captures the attention of the British public, and after the struggles of the GB Olympic teams, the pressure will be on the McCreadie rink, described as professional wheelchair curlers.

You can watch the video HERE

In the video you can see them delivering from in front of the hack as opposed to near the hogline. WCF rules say that the stone at delivery played from between the hack and the top of the rings, must touch the centre line. Stones played between the top of the rings and the hogline can be up to (approx.) 6 inches from centre, the outer edge of the stone within 18 inches of the centre line.

GB's McCreadie "quietly confident of gold" 2/26/2010

Team Great Britain skip Michael McCreadie told reporters assembled at the team send off celebration at their teams home ice at Braehead: said, “We’re quietly confident of bringing home the gold medals.”

Bob Cowan reports Michael saying: "If we play at our best we will be a real handful for any country in the world .... The GB Paralympic teams work just as hard all year round and prepare for our winter games just as much as the competitors who are presently out in Vancouver for the Winter Olympics.”

You can read the rest of Bob's report HERE.

Also a report from the Paisley Express.

Though the GB team, all Scots, have as much experience and as many medals as any team in the world, for the past two years they've been undertaking what Tom Pendreigh their coach calls a "skill acquisition project." This has included throwing from the top of the rings rather than the near hogline.

Pendreigh expressed surprise when I contacted him last week at the skepticism his project has provoked from those outside his program. He's certain of its advantages and feels his team has overcome "expected and managed" performance dips in the run up to the Paralympics.

GB plays Canada in the first draw, and a good result will give McCreadie, who is still inexperienced at skip, all the confidence he needs to reach the podium.

Wheelchair curling coming to New Brunswick  2/22/2010

The Canadian Paraplegic Association of New Brunswick are working with the Fredericton Curling Club to introduce wheelchair curling to the province.

"Several of our clients said, 'What about wheelchair curling?' New Brunswick and P.E.I. are the only provinces in Canada that haven't fielded wheelchair curling teams to the national championships. Our clients were saying it would be nice to formally introduce it in New Brunswick," the CPA's Haley Flaro told The Daily Gleaner.

"When the Fredericton Curling Club moved into the coliseum, we now had a relatively accessible rink. That was an opportunity to try and get something going."

The give-it-a-go day is Saturday February 27.

Read the article for more information

Team GB putting on a demo Feb 24 at East Kilbride  2/22/2010

Team Britain will demonstrate their sport at the East Kilbride Ice Rink, East Kilbride centre, on Wednesday 24 February, 12noon-1.00pm.

CLICK HERE for details.

Lessard sees off Victoria CC challenge at Quebec Provincial  2/21/2010

Benoit Lessard skipped his Lennoxville CC team to a sweep of the challengers from the Victoria CC in Quebec City. He won the third match of the best of 5 series 11-4, settling down after going behind 4-0 on steals in the first two ends.

The big end was again the downfall for Jean-François Sylvestre, who allowed a steal of 5 in the 4th.

Lessard   0 0 1 5 1 2 2 X - 11
Sylvestre 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 X - 4

The Quebec champions round out the ten teams that will contest the Canadian Nationals in Kelowna BC, March 15-21. It will be their second appearance, after going a very respectable 3-6 in their rookie year.

Team GB enter and win Scottish Championships 2/21/2010

Team Great Britain, all Scots, were one of ten teams competing in this weekend's Scottish Championship at Aberdeen. They went unbeaten, stealing in the 5th and 6th to take the final 7-2 against Jim Elliot. (thanks Bob Cowan)

Full results are HERE

It was never a possibility that Team Canada would compete in a national championship prior to the Paralympics, though Jim Armstrong, before his latest injury, had told me he was open to competing in his provincial championship had not the Nationals been forced to schedule at the same time as the Paralympics.

Hosts Team Lessard 2-0 in best of 5 Quebec Provincial 2/20/2010

Ben Lessard led his Lennoxville CC rink to a 2 game lead in their best of 5 series against Jean-François Sylvestre of the Victoria CC in Quebec City.

The Lennoxville team has only been curling for a couple of seasons, but that experience showed in comfortable 16-4 and 11-2 wins over the rookie visitors.

"The difference for our team was in not giving up big ends," explained assistant coach Dan Janidlo. "The second game was close until we scored 4 in the 7th."

Teams: Lennoxville - Benoit Lessard (skip), Carl Marquis (3rd), Denis Grenier (2nd) and Johanne Daly (lead) with Nicole Huberdeau (5th), coach Alfred Whittier assisted by Dan Janidlo.

Victoria CC - Jean-François Sylvestre (skip), Michel Verreault (3rd), Allan Burridge (2nd), France Sévigny (lead) with Maxime Aubé (5th), and coachesJacques Palasse, Pierre Morneau and Jacques Deschênes.

Championship information can be found HERE

Ottawa's Cameron wins Dominion Ontario Championship    2/20/2010

Bruce Cameron's rink curling out of the RA Curling Club brought Ottawa its first provincial title when he beat three time champion Chris Rees from Toronto 8-3 in the final of the Dominion Ontario Championship.

Cameron lost his third to surgery just before the event but steered his side back from a 3-1 deficit after 2 ends to post four steals in an 8-3 victory.

Cameron 1 0 1 1 1 2 2 X 8
Rees 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 X 3

His win doubles the number of rookies (8 excluding alternates) slated to appear at the Nationals in Kelowna BC, March 15-21, with the final team, Quebec, to be decided tomorrow.

Full championship details can be found HERE

Quebec holds first Provincial Championship  2/19/2010

Wheelchair curling in Quebec began at the Lennoxville CC where Al Whittier, assisted by Daniel Janidlo moulded a group of established athletes accomplished in other disciplines into a team that represented their province for the first time in 2009.

This year a late challenge from Qubec City has meant that there will be a Quebec provincial championship with the winner earning their passage to the 2010 Nationals in Kelowna March 15-21.

The best of five matches series is scheduled for this weekend in Lennoxville. Games times are Saturday February 20, 1pm and 4pm, and Sunday 21st at 9am and if necessary noon and 3pm.

Rees crushes Gregory's hopes of repeat Ontario title  2/19/2010

3-time Ontario champion Chris Rees (Toronto) booked his place in the final of the 2010 Dominion Ontario Provincials by beating defending champion Ken Gregory (Bradford) 10-1 in the semi-final. Gregory, who had relied on a last end 4 in the morning's last round robin draw to squeak into afternoon play, had no answer for Rees, who took 2 in the first and then stole to 9-0 lead after 5 ends.

The Rees rink, with Carl Bax (3rd) Dal Wrigley (2nd) and Shauna Petrie will hope to revenge an extra end round robin defeat, when they meet Ottawa's Bruce Cameron in Saturday morning's final - 10.30 am at the Collingwood CC.

The semi-final loss will disappoint a team that had travelled to Utica for the US Open (as did Bruce Cameron) to gain competition experience. Frank Cannarella (3rd) will also lose his record of appearing in every national championship, an achievement he shared with 2010 Team BC skip Whitney Warren.

Lines scores can be found HERE

Final end 4 puts Gregory in Ontario semi-final  2/19/2010

For most of the game it looked like defending Ontario champion Ken Gregory would become entangled in a three-way tie of 1-3 teams for third place in the Dominion Ontario Provincials at the Collingwood CC this morning.

Down 5-3 after 6, he gave up a steal in 7 but then posted 4 in the final end to give Ottawa's Bruce Cameron his first defeat 7-6. He closed with a 2-2 record, good enough for this afternoon's 2 vs 3 semi-final against Toronto's Chris Rees who beat Richard Fraser 9-4 to finish 3-1.

Cameron (3-1) went straight through to Saturday's final having stolen a 9-8 win over Rees in round robin play.

Final camp and exhibition matches for Team Canada  2/18/2010

Team Canada have their final training camp this weekend at the Richmond CC.

Their last tournament game was in December, but they have brought invitees like Alberta's Jack Smart and Manitoba's Chris Sobkowicz into camp to play alongside Jackie Roy and Bruno Yizek for practice sessions. Last weekend they won 2 of 3 three matches against Whitney Warren's Team BC.

This weekend I am told the Richmond CC has arranged games for Friday and Saturday though I do not have details. The team will attend Friday evening's Olympic women's draw.

for those looking for team news I have this from Team Leader Wendy Morgan:

Team Canada is very excited about the upcoming Paralympic Games in our home country!

We do not feel pressure to compete in Canada, we welcome that opportunity as a rare privilege!

'Home field advantage' for us, will be having family and friends to share this experience with...to celebrate the wins, have comfort after losses and live support in the stands.

Team Canada has been focused on team building, refining strategies, enhancing communication skills and technical tweaking for the last 2 months.

We have had several practice games at our 2 January camps and our final camp this weekend, in Richmond, will focus on final details of competition and event readiness.

We recognize the presence of expectations...that is the reality of sport at the highest level. The roster of countries and players competing in 2010 is one of experience, talent, and this 2010 field is very level.

Team Canada is healthy, anxious to play and most eager to put the Maple Leaf on our backs!

Our primary goal is make the playoff round. Our focus however is one game at a time.

We look forward to cheering on our Ladies and Men's Olympic teams this week in Vancouver.

Go Canada Go!

I also had a lengthy and less general conversation with Coach Rea that I will use in a future post.

Ottawa's Cameron through to Dominion Provincial final  2/18/2010

Bruce Cameron's Ottawa rink rolled to a third victory on Day 2 of the Dominion Ontario Provincials at the Collingwood CC. beating Tpronto's Chris Rees 9-8 on a steal in an extra end. At 3-0 he is assured of a first place finish in the 5 team round robin, and will go straight through to the final.

Bradbury's defending champion Gregory lost to 2008 champion Rees 7-5 in the morning draw but registered his first win in the afternoon, beating Iderton's Claus 11-3. Claus beat Ottawa's Fraser in the other morning game; his team's first ever competitive win.

Cameron plays Gregory in the final round robin draw with Gregory needing a win to assure at least a tie-break. If Rees beats Fraser he'll go into the 2 vs 3 semi-final. If Fraser and Gregory win tomorrow, there will be a three way tie for second. If Cameron and Rees win there's a 3 way tie for third. If Rees and Gregory win they'll face off again in the semi-final.

Cameron vs Gregory
Rees vs Fraser

Standings after 4 draws
Cameron 3-0
Rees 2-1
Fraser 1-2
Gregory 1-2
Claus 1-3

You can find line scores HERE

Cameron takes early lead at Dominion Ontario Provincials  2/17/2010

Bruce Cameron's Ottawa rink won both their games on the opening day of the Dominion Ontario Wheelchair Curling Championships at the Collingwood CC. Cameron, out of the RA Curling Club beat fellow Ottawan Richard Fraser from the North Greenville CC 9-6 in the morning draw despite giving up a steal of 4 in the 3rd. In the afternoon Cameron posted a 14-1 win over Iderton's Lance Claus

Cameron's rink suffered a blow when their third, Doug Morris. underwent a scheduled back surgery yesterday. Jamie Eddy moved from second, replaced by rookie Andre Beaudin, who has been practicing with Team Cameron all season.
Eddy is in his fourth season of curling and the second on Team Cameron. He represented Canada at sledge hockey in the Lillihammer and Nagano Paralympics. He is legally blind and uses binoculars and a CCA approved guide light to assist his accuracy.
Defending champion Ken Gregory lost his opening draw to Fraser 10-9, after going behind by 6 after two ends. Fraser took 2 with hammer in the eighth for the victory.

In the day's other game, Toronto's Chris Rees, the 2008 champion, beat Claus 13-2.

You can find team members and line scores HERE

it would take a gun to keep me out of the line-up now! - Armstrong 2/16/2010

Want the definitive word on Jim Armstrong's injury status? The message is the same as already described on the blog, but here it is, as requested, from Jim himself.

Hi, Eric:

Thanks for inquiring about my health again. As we had discussed a few weeks ago, I certainly did aggravate my surgerized left shoulder. Ironically, I strained it lifting a box, because the shoulder was actually feeling good enough, I actually forgot to be as careful as I should. I had it medically assessed, and, given the time frame, further surgical repair, even if needed, would be impractical, and would certainly have taken me out of the Paralympics.

Fortunately, our Program now has on staff a tremendous physiotherapist, Paige Larson. Paige has huge professional experience providing treatment for Team Canada at a number of Olympic and Paralympic Games. I have been getting treatment regularly, every two or three days, and I am certainly improving week to week.

As you have indicated, I am struggling with everyday mobility, but it is now more of an inconvenience than a threat to my ability to play. I know it still looks worse than it is, since my neck tends to accommodate for the shoulder tenderness, and I am now dealing with neck stiffness.

The entire team and staff are ready to rock, and it would take a gun to keep me out of the line-up now!

All the best, and keep up the good work, Eric.

When I mentioned Jim's health to national team coach Joe Rae earlier today, he said; "I'll shoot him if I catch him lifting heavy boxes again before the Paralympics."

Had the team prepared for the possibility of Jim's absence? "We have prepared for all eventualities, for the absence of any of our players. And no, I'm not going to say what those plans are."

If I were Joe, neither would I.

Team Gregory looking beyond 2010  2/12/2010

Katie Paialunga, who plays second on Ken Gregory's Bradford based Ontario championship team, admits to looking beyond 2010, to the 2011 Nationals where she hopes the winner will be declared Team Canada, breaking the current selection process.

“We’d like to win the provincial this year,” Paialunga trold Dan Plouffe of the Orléans Star. “However, it’s not our overall goal.”

The next goal for the Gregory rink is to win a national title in 2011, which would then lead to an appearance in the world championships. After being passed over in favour of British Columbia-based individuals to represent Canada at the 2010 Paralympics, the long-term goal Paialunga holds is to compete in the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

“We’ve got another four years to get working on being the best team,” she added.

Now she just has to help her team past four other competitors in Ontario's Dominion Provincial Championships at Collingwood CC February 17-20.

Top secret biomechanical research aids TC shooting accuracy  2/12/2010

Team Canada's wheelchair curlers have been part of a top secret research program out of the University of Alberta that has been analysing and subsequently fine tuning delivery motions using computer analysis of high speed photography.

Phys. Ed. lecturer Pierre Baudin said that the research on wheelchair curling was significant because it had not been explored before.

“Probably the biggest impact we had was on the wheelchair curlers. Nobody had ever done research on wheelchair curlers before and so we were starting from scratch there and a lot of the things they were doing were biomechanically incorrect [...] we changed a number of things for all the curlers.”

Read the article HERE

There's a lot that goes into a successfully thrown stone and certainly a biomechanically efficient delivery is an important element. But so too are being disciplined about where you place the stone, and the chair in relation to the stone, and the broom in relation to the chair and the stone, in addition to being able to regulate the speed of the throw when contact with the stone is measured in fractions of a second.

Working out what motions best accommodate a particular wheelchair users muscle set can help, and if the analysis breeds confidence, so much the better.

Armstrong injury update  2/12/2010

Several people have mentioned to me that from their observation, Team Canada skip Jim Armstrong is carrying the injury to his non-throwing shoulder with obvious discomfort. While there has been no official comment from the team, my understanding is that the injury is uncomfortable, and does affect his mobility, but is not expected to be an issue as far as playing is concerned.

Jim is fortunate in that he can use his legs in addition to or in place of his non-throwing arm, to brace his delivery.

Experienced users of manual wheelchairs know what a strain is placed on shoulders. Throwing rocks from a chair compounds that strain. So it is no great surprise that Jim, with body already worn from decades of sweeping, may be feeling pain, particularly if he felt the need to play catch-up in training after being inactive after last year's shoulder surgery and car accident.

Though Canada would prefer a fully fit Armstrong throwing fourth stones, his major contribution to the team is not the ability to throw takeout weight. Were his injury to worsen, they could easily let him skip from lead. Were that to happen though, would they just move Sonja, Ina and Darryl up the order, or would they bring in Bruno at third and sit Sonja?

And who would skip were Jim not able to play? Canadians, especially the coaches, hope these questions will never need answers, but what would you do?

Canada's only female skip bringing her team to Halifax  2/8/2010

Newfoundland & Labrador's provincial team will play a series of exhibition games at the Halifax CC this weekend, February 13-14, against Team Nova Scotia. Both teams finished at 3-6 at last year's Nationals in Nova Scotia.

Newfoundland & Labrador lost their skip when Chris Daw relocated to Vancouver, so Joanne MacDonald steps up from 3rd and will become the first woman to skip a provincial side. Darlene Jackman, Lanie Woodfine and Felix Green all return from last year's rookie provincial squad.

Team Nova Scotia have added Debbie Earle to last year's team, and the exhibitions will be their first opportunity to compete as a provincial unit.

Games are at 9am and 1pm on February 13th, and 11am and 3.30pm on the 14th.

Team Canada finalists for True Sport Foundation's Team of the Year 2/7/2010

Team Canada are one of three finalists for the True Sport Foundation's award of Team of the Year, to be presented at the 37th Canadian Sports Awards, March 3rd in Toronto.

They are up against the men’s IIHF world championship squad and the national women’s water polo team.

“The annual Canadian Sport Awards is the ideal time to honour our amateur athletes,” said Victor Lachance, executive director of the True Sport Foundation. “It will be a great way to cap off the thrill of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and get revved up for the Paralympic Games.”

Read the press release here.

Meet the new champs, same as the old champs   2/7/2010

It was deja vu all over again in Edmonton and Kenora as Jack Smart and Wayne Ficek successfully defended their Provincial titles.

Smart's Calgary rink, with Anne Hibberd and Bridget Wilson maintaining their record of making every Alberta provincial team, beat Edmonton's Cliff Nuspl 11-2, completing a tournament where they averaged 8 point winning margins in their 5 games.

It was a much tighter affair in Kenora, where local favourite Ficek faced Thunder Bay's Carl Levesque, 7-4 winner over Dawid in Saturday's semi-final. It was a back and forth game with Levesque stealing an early lead but being held to a single with hammer in the 8th, forcing an extra end.

In the extra the play was in the four foot with Ficek second Chester Draper drawing to the top of the 4, and Thunder Bay's Ron Brunelle playing a tap back. Ficek 3rd Mark Wherrett drew to the four foot but Levesque, facing two, put his last rock in the four foot just behind the t-line to sit shot.

Ficek, with his last rock, drew down to it to win by a measurement. Final score 7-6.

Ficek    0 0 2 0 3 0 1 0 1 - 7
Levesque 1 1 0 1 0 2 0 1 0 - 6

Alberta and N. Ontario Provincials Day 2  2/6/2010

In Edmonton, Jack Smart finished round robin play with a 13-3 defeat of Edmonton's Donaldson in just 6 ends at the Alberta Provincials. Nuspal beat Keith 12-3 in 7 ends setting up an all Calgary (Smart and Keith) and all Edmonton (Donaldson and Nuspl) semi-final.

Both semi-finals ended in early 6th end handshakes, as Smart beat Keith 14-1 and Nuspl beat Donaldson 9-1, setting up a north vs. south final, 12.30pm at the Jasper Place CC.

In Kenora, Wayne Ficek beat Richard Dawid 6-3 to advance to Sunday's N. Ontario provincial final against the winner of the Levesque/Dawid semi-final. Results will be posted HERE.

Alberta and N. Ontario Championships underway  2/5/2010

Current champion Wayne Ficek took 6 in the 3rd end of a 9-3 victory playing Thunder Bay's Carl Levesque on home ice in the opening draw of the Shoppers Home Healthcare 2010 N. Ontario Championship at the Kenora CC.

Levesque had a chance to get back on track in the evening draw, facing fellow Fort William curler Richard Dawid. Steals in end 3, 4 and 5 saw him cruise to a comfortable 11-2 win.

Results will be posted HERE.

Wayne Ficek - Skip, Mark Wherrett 3rd, Chester Draper 2nd, Cindy Hoffstrom & Denise Miault alternate at lead, Tom Wherrett - Coach

Carl Levesque - Skip, Ron Brunelle 3rd, Rick Bell 2nd, Sharon LaFroye - lead, David Kawahara - Coach

Richard Dawid - Skip, Gino Sonego 3rd, Terry Lynch 2nd, Linda Kontunen - lead, Mike Bergquist - Coach

In the Alberta Championship at the Jasper Place CC, Edmonton, defending champion Jack Smart beat Edmonton's Nuspl 8-3 in the opening draw, and fellow Calgarian Keith was doubled up by Edmonton's Donaldson 7-14.

In Draw 2 it was Smart over Keith 14-2 and Nuspl over Donaldson 8-4.

Jack Smart - Skip, Anne Hibberd 3rd, Martin Purvis 2nd. Bridget Wilson - Lead
Tony Zummack - Coach

Dale Keith - Skip, Bruce Matthews 3rd, Ron Pawlyk 2nd, Wanda Pizzinato - Lead, Curtis Junor - Alternate, Glen Brunelle - Coach

Cliff Nuspl - Skip, Warren Fleury 3rd, Mike McMullan 2nd, Shawna Walsh - Lead,
Romeo Johnson - Alternate, David Jerke - Coach

Don Donaldson - Skip, Doug MacEachern 3rd, Don Munroe 2nd, Bonna Gerlitz - Lead, Marie Laframboise - Alternate, Wanda Crawford - Coach

Championship weekend for Alberta and N. Ontario 2/4/2010

Two teams from Calgary will travel to Edmonton's Jasper Place CC to challenge two Edmonton teams for Alberta's Provincial Championship. Jack Smart's Calgary champions make one forced change. Last year's 5th, Martin Purvis, replaces Bruno Yizek who'll be on Team Canada duty during the Nationals. They'll play with the confidence of knowing that they have represented their province at every national championship, coming within a whisker of gold in 2009.

The second Calgary team has Dale Keith at skip, Bruce Matthews at third, with rookies Ron Pawlyk at second, Wanda Pizzinato at lead and Curtis Junor as the alternate.

This will be Keith's third appearance at the Provincial Championship, his first as Skip. Matthews is also making his third appearance at this event. The team is Coached by Glen Brunelle, Coordinator of the Calgary Wheelchair Curling Association.

The Shoppers Home Healthcare 2010 N. Ontario Championship sees 2009 champion Wayne Ficek fielding an unchanged team, as his Kenora club hosts Thunder Bay rivals Carl Levesque and Richard Dawid from the Fort William CC. These three teams have just returned from the Ontario Parasport Winter Games, where Levesque took silver and Ficek took bronze.

Team USA works with non-profits to boost adaptive curling  2/3/2010

Team USA is based at the Utica CC and works closely with SITRIN (Success Through Adaptive Recreation and Sports) which has joined forces with The Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and United Cerebral Palsey to raise funds to enable all their patients curl.

USA Team Leader Marc DePerno, a SITRIN employee, told the Utica Daily News curling has become a competitive sport for some, but it's also a fun and dynamic rehabilitation tool.

"First and foremost," DePerno said, "it's about collaboration -- friendships, getting out and about; adaptive sports provide an avenue for you to improve your quality of life and self esteem, and make friendships. It's a chance to excel in an area of life you didnt realize you could, and when a person comes to try it, they usually get hooked."

Physically, adaptive curling is excellent, too, DePerno said.

"The great thing is, it does not require as much physical mobility as other adaptive sports," DePerno pointed out. "Curling basically opens the door to a whole other area of disabilities."

Read the whole article.

USA's McDonald has another chance to represent his country 2/3/2010

Californian Patrick McDonald, the only Team USA curler not competing out of the Utica CC, is profiled HERE.

What’s the coolest thing about being a Paralympian?

“I get to represent our country again,” says the patriot, who served as a Cavalry Scout 19 Delta from 1989 to 1992.

Karen Blachford named as 2010 RBC Olympian  2/3/2010

Karen Blachford, a member of the original Team Canada and who retired from the national squad after winning a gold medal at the 2006 Torino Paralympics, has been chosen by the Royal Bank of Canada to be a 2010 Olympian.

Their website description of the program: "The RBC Olympians program hires both Canadian Olympic and Paralympic athletes as community ambassadors who bring Olympic messages of excellence and leadership to Canadian communities.

Athletes are provided with the opportunity to gain valuable skills that will help them prepare for life after sport, while also receiving much-needed funding to help them realize their Olympic and Paralympic dreams."

CLICK HERE for details of her citation.

Whitney Warren skips to BC provincial title  1/31/2010

Prince George's Whitney Warren, one of only two players to have appeared in every National Championship, will this year skip the defending national champions on home ice. His team of Frank LaBounty (3rd), Gerry Austgarden and rookie lead Allison Duddy beat Gary Cormack 7-1 in the final of the three team championship.

Cormack, with Rich Green, Vince Miele and Corrine Jensen blanked the first three ends before taking their single point at the half-time break. Warren scored two in the fifth, stole one in the sixth and made it handshake time with a steal of four in the seventh.

Both teams will compete in Kelowna at the Nationals, March 15-21, with Cormack's team playing as BC Hosts to round out a ten team field.

It is worth noting that both Warren and LaBounty are quads who use power chairs. They have also won gold at the previous three national championships, twice with Jim Armstrong at skip and in 2007 with Darryl Neighbour skipping.

Full provincial championship details HERE

Norway complete sweep in Perth  1/31/2010

Norway finished the final pre-Paralympic tournament with a six game sweep against major opposition in Perth, Scotland. The beat Great Britain, Sweden, Germany and Switzerland and two Scots development teams.

The final table is HERE.

Though Norway's new coach Per Christensen has not officially announced his Paralympic team, it appears from Bob Cowan's photos of the event that the team may be the one that competed at the 2009 Worlds.

Cormack advances to final of BC provincial 1/30/2010

Paralympian gold medalist Gary Cormack's CVCG Avengers, with Rich Green (3rd) Vince Miele and Corrine Jensen advance to the final of the BC Provincials after beating Whitney Warren and Cyril Kinatkin in the three game round robin.

Whitney, with fellow multiple National Champion teammate Frank LaBounty (3rd), Torino gold medalist Gerry Austgarden and rookie Allison Duddy will face Cyril Kinatkin in a semi-final.

The semi-final is at 10am and the final at 2pm Sunday January 31. The losing finalist will become the BC Host Team.

Results can be found here.

Team Canada coach Joe Rea talks to his hometown paper   1/30/2010

Team Canada coach Joe Rea tells Jason Peters of the Prince George Citizen that coaching the national team has fulfilled the dream of wearing a Team Canada jacket that eluded him as a player.

"To have this opportunity to go to a Paralympics in your own country and represent your country is the biggest honour I'll ever have," he said.

Read the interview HERE.

Norway pull ahead of strong Paralympic field  1/30/2010

Norway posted two more wins against Paralympic contenders on the second day of competition at Perth, Scotland. The defeated Sweden 6-4 and Gemany 7-6. They also beat Scotland I 6-4 to end the day 5-0, two games ahead of Great Britain (3-0).

Results can be found HERE.

Norway start strong at season's last pre-Paralympic spiel 1/29/2010

Five national teams and a couple of Scottish development squads are competing at the Dewar's Centre in Perth, playing alongside teams competing for the Scottish Ladies' Championship.

Norway started well, beating Scotland II  9-7 and then Great Britain 6-4. Their coach, Per Christensen, who has yet to officially announce his Paralympic side, had said he didn't want his team to peak too early and Norways performances too date have been patchy. But they have been the side that Canada has found difficult to beat when it mattered.

Great Britain straddled their loss with comfortable wins over Scotland I and Scotland II, with Aileen Neilson reportedly throwing fourth stones.

In other matches, Sweden beat Switzerland 6-3 while Scotland I overcame Scotland II 6-4.  Results can be found HERE.

Using the Paralympics to publicise the sport  1/28/2010

Team GB third Aileen Neilson gave an extended interview to Paul Thomson of the East Kilbride News. She talks about her life before her disability, how she came into wheelchair curling, how she has prepared for Vancouver and her hopes for success.

Scots curlers, who make up the Great Britain team, are generously financed by the government and appear to see publicity as part of their responsibility to the sport. I have recently linked to articles mentioning every member of their team.

Team USA also feature regularly in the press and media, as the USA curling authorities understand that the national team is their best advertisement for increasing participation. Again I have linked to articles on all the team.

Canada has instituted a pre-Paralympics media protocol explicitly discouraging informal press (including me) contact with team members, and insisting that all requests for interviews be cleared with a "media liason officer." Standard procedure. apparently, but just one reason why you'll find so little information about the team on this blog, or read mainstream media stories covering anything other than Jim Armstrong's phoenix-like rise from the ashes of a ruined able-bodied curling career.

Team Canada, also funded by public money, should be doing everything in their power to court publicity, realising that often means not only going out of their way to contact media with stories, but supplying journalists, notoriously lazy, with material.

Instead they issue no press releases, or invitations to watch the team prepare. They don't train in different locales while inviting local curlers to interact with the team, which would attract local TV.

You can call it necessary focus, and claim that gold in Vancouver wipes away all objections, but making a two year campaign solely about winning a gold medal puts everything in just one basket, and we can only hope it's a sturdy one.

To be successful a sport has to make its audience care about the participants. If all Canadians are asked to care about is a gold medal, then it's a disaster getting anything less. But more, once the competition is over, people will stop caring, and that's no way to nuture a sport and provide for the future.

USA skip in "I compete clean" TV anti-doping campaign  1/28/2010

Team USA skip Augusto Perez, and his photogenic family, are part of the US Anti-Doping Agency's latest media campaign. See blog for video.

Premier championnat provincial de curling en fauteuil roulant 

Curling Québec est fier d’annoncer la tenue de son premier championnat provincial de curling en fauteuil roulant qui sera présenté les 20 et 21 février prochain sur les glaces du club de curling Lennoxville, dans la région de l’Estrie.

Le directeur général de Curling Québec ne cache pas son enthousiasme face à cette annonce : « Nous sommes particulièrement excités d’assister à ce moment historique du curling au Québec. La plupart de nos championnats provinciaux existent depuis plusieurs années, certains datent du début du siècle dernier. Par contre, de vivre la première édition d’un événement qui perdurera dans le temps demeure quelque chose de spécial ».

« L’an dernier, nous avons identifié et envoyé pour la première fois une équipe du Québec au Championnat canadien de curling en fauteuil roulant. Cette année, cette équipe devra remporter le titre québécois pour mériter ce privilège » mentionne M. Berthelot.

Précisons que l’équipe championne représentera le Québec au Championnat canadien de curling en fauteuil roulant qui sera présenté du 16 au 21 mars à Kelowna en C.-B.

La directrice générale de l’Association québécoise de sports en fauteuil roulant (AQSFR), Mme José Malo, applaudit cette initiative : « Le curling est un sport inscrit au Jeux Paralympique d’hiver et gagne a être connu puisqu’il peut être pratiqué par la majorité des personnes en fauteuil roulant. Il a été important pour nous de supporter les clubs qui ont initié cette pratique au Québec. Je tiens aussi à souligner le dynamisme et la grande réceptivité de Curling Québec dans ce mouvement. Grâce à ce travail d’équipe cet événement deviendra une tradition québécoise ».

Pour la première édition, deux équipes s’affronteront dans une série 3 de 5. L’équipe qui a représenté le Québec l’année dernière au championnat canadien et aussi représentante du Club de curling Lennoxville est composée du capitaine Benoit Lessard, Carl Marquis (3e), Denis Grenier (2e), Johanne Daly (1ère) et Nicole Huberdeau (5e). Cette équipe est entraînée par le duo formé d’Alfred Whittier et Dan Janidlo.

Ils seront opposés à l’équipe représentante du Club de curling Victoria (Québec), formée de Jean-François Sylvestre (capitaine), Michel Verreault (3e), Allan Burridge (2e), France Sévigny (1ère) et Maxime Aubé (5e). Leurs entraîneurs sont Jacques Palasse, Pierre Morneau et Jacques Deschênes.

Les parties débuteront le samedi 20 février à 13h. La cérémonie d’ouverture sera présentée à 11h et pour l’occasion, nous procéderons au dévoilement du trophée qui sera présenté à l’équipe championne à la fin de cette compétition.

Rick Mercer curls from a wheelchair  1/27/2010

Canadian comedian Rick Mercer filmed a segment on wheelchair curling shown on Canadian TV last year.

For those who missed it, you can
view it on our blog

No change in WCF attitude to powered wheelchairs  1/27/2010

When issues concerning wheelchair curling arise at the World Curling Federation, the executive looks to their vice-President Kate Caithness, for guidance. Wheelchair curling is very much "her baby.'

To see how closely and emotionally involved she is, you have only to read the Autumn 2009 issue of Paralympian Magazine (pdf). Without her, not only would wheelchair curling not be standing on a world stage; it is doubtful that Canadian wheelchair users would be playing at all.

The CCA created a team so that Canada would be represented at the World Championships. Then BC, under Linda Moore, were determined that Ontario wheelchair curlers, who made up the original team, would not go unchallenged so CurlBC spent money to create a team. Eight years later we have eight provinces and nine provincial teams, represented at our own national championships.

So we owe Kate Caithness a debt of gratitude for pushing the sport into existence. Her latest project has been to re-examine eligibility and assessment procedures that may bring even more participation.

Which makes it all the more puzzling why the WCF stands by its recommendation that powered wheelchairs be banned from WCF sponsored competition, including World Championships and the Paralympics.

Here is a link to my January Wheelchair Watch (Issue 4) column which outlines the issues as I see them.

GB's Jim Sellar to retire if successful in Vancouver  1/27/2010

Team Great Britain's Jim Sellar, the likely fifth in Vancouver, told the Bellshill Speaker that he will retire from competitive sports if successful in Vancouver. Sellar (53), who is also a champion bowler, has curled for nine years and has represented Scotland at five World Championships, winning gold in 2004.

Read the article HERE.

Gregory takes gold at Ontario Parasport Winter Games 1/24/2010

Ken Gregory's Bradford rink rebounded from a morning final round robin draw defeat by beating Thunder Bay's Carl Levesque in an extra end of the gold medal tie-break game at the Ontario Parasport Winter Games at the Kingston CC.

Gregory went out to an early 5-0 lead with a steal of 4 in the second, but gave back a steal of 3 in the fourth. Levesque took 2 in the eighth to force the extra, but conceded a single to lose 8-7 to the far more experienced Bradford team.

Levesque 0 0 3 1 0 1 0 2 0 - 7
Gregory   1 4 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 - 8

Team Gregory will now be favourites to repeat as Ontario Champions at the Provincials February 17-20 at the Collingwood CC.

Scores are HERE.

In sign of maturing sport, 7 of 9 provinces hold playdowns  1/23/2010

Nine provinces have agreed to send teams to the Canadian Nationals taking place in Kelowna, BC from March 15-21, the same dates as the Paralympics.

It had been hoped to have 10 provincial teams, but PEI made a late decision to wait another year before competing. BC will supply an additional "host" team to make up the numbers as happened last year in Nova Scotia.

In a very positive sign of the maturing of the competitive side of the sport, seven of the nine have held or will be holding playdowns to choose their representatives. Team Saskatchewan were chosen last December, but Team Sobkowicz in Manitoba and Team Fitzgerald in Nova Scotia have already won their berths.

Team formation in BC has been limited by the three females remaining after Sonja Gaudet and Ina Forrest made Team Canada and three-time gold medalist Jackie Roy, who trained with the national team, chose to stay in Vancouver to support them. Three teams compete for the two slots at the Juan de Fuca Centre, January 29 - 31. Ex-Canada teammates Gary Cormack and Gerry Austgarden will be opponents, though neither will skip. Teams are HERE and draw details HERE.

Alberta are holding a four team round robin with playoffs February 5-7 in Edmonton at the Jasper Curling Club. Two teams will be from Calgary and two from Edmonton. Calgary's Jack Smart came within an inch of taking the title from BC at the 2009 Championship, but this year will be without Bruno Yizek who'll most likely be bench warming in Vancouver. Anne Hibberd, who was unable to play last year, steps in at 3rd while Martin Purvis continues at 2nd.

Curling in Quebec has been centred on the Lennoxville CC, but they received a late provincial challenge from the Victoria CC in Quebec City. Lennoxville will host a playdown February 20-21. They will hope to have their skip, Ben Lessard back from the serious injuries he sustained in a water-skiing accident last summer. He'll play with Denis Grenier and Carl Marquis. Competition for the two female slots will be decided at a try-out session between Johanne Daly, Johanne Poulin and Nicole Huberdeau.

Kenora hosts Northern Ontario's three team playdown February 5-7, with local Provincial Champion Wayne Ficek hoping to again upset the Fort William CC's Team Levesque and Team Dawid from Thunder Bay.

Ontario have avoided the angst of last year by agreeing not to penalise areas supporting more than one team.This year the OCA agreed to allow participation up to the total team limit allowed regular curlers; so five teams will compete at the Collingwood CC from February 17-20. Bradford's 2009 Provincial Champion Ken Gregory will face Toronto's Chris Rees, Ottawa's Bruce Cameron and Richard Fraser, and Ilderton's Lance Claus, skipping a rookie squad coached by Ernie Comerford, who jump-started wheelchair curling in Alberta.

Chris Daw commenting from the sidelines  1/23/2010

The Vancouver Sun's Lyndon Little, in an interview posted on Kelowna.com, talks to ex-Team Canada skip Chris Daw about his new life as manager of the Vancouver CC and his thoughts on Canada's Paralympics prospects.

Little writes that Daw insists the last thing he wants to do is to put any undue pressure on the team wearing the Maple Leaf.

"All I'm saying is that I feel this team has every opportunity to hit the podium," assesses Daw. "Having been there before, my advice is they can do it as long as they keep their energy levels up and that their focus on the process remains level. They can't afford to look at the prize before they have it."

Read the full article HERE.

PEI sponsoring another wheelchair curling clinic  1/23/2010

The PEI Curling Association is sponsoring a free demonstration and workshop at the Crapaud Community Curling Club on Sunday January 31. A similar event was held in December, but the inclement weather kept many people from attending. It is hoped that representatives from all PEI curling clubs can attend these sessions.

The wheelchair curling demonstration will be held from 10.00am-1.00pm. Those interested in participating should contact Gayle Johnston at 902-368-1071.

“We are delighted to be able to put on this workshop and clinic,” said Gayle Johnston, Technical Coordinator for the PEI Curling Association. “We encourage anybody who uses a wheelchair, to come out and see what it is all about. Curling is the most social of sports, and disability should be no barrier to participating and having fun.”

PEI had hoped to field a provincial team at this year's Nationals, but have decided till 2011.

Final international during Scottish Men's Championships  1/23/2010

Bob Cowan reminds me that Great Britain will host the final international spiel before the Paralympics when they share the ice with the Scottish Men's Championships at the Dewar's Centre in Aberdeen.

Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Norway will compete in the seven team field that includes two teams from the Scottish Wheelchair Curling Association's performance pool.

The wheelchair event begins January 29th and you can find the draw HERE.

GB 3rd Aileen Neilson is interviewed in the East Kilbride News HERE.

Team Gregory 4-0 at Ontario Parasport Winter Games   1/23/2010

Ken Gregory's Bradford rink is leading the six team field at the Ontario Winter Games. With one draw to play they have a 4-0 record, and having already beaten Carl Levesque's 3-1 Thunder Bay squad, look set to take home gold regardless of the outcome of tomorrow's draw. They play Kenora's Wayne Ficek, and may be looking for some revenge after the 13-0 drubbing the were handed in a tie-break at he 2009 Nationals.

Scores are HERE.

2010 Ontario Parasport Winter Games - Jan 22-24  1/19/2010

The Royal Kingston CC is hosting the curling component of the 5 sport 2010 Ontario Paasport Games from January 22-24. Six teams wil be competing: Ficek (Kenora), Levseque and Dawid (Thunder Bay), Rees (Toronto), Gregory (Bradford) and Cameron (Ottawa).

The first draw of the round robin event is 10am Friday Jan. 22 with the final scheduled for 2.30pm Sunday Jan. 24. Tie-breaks will only be held in the event of a tie for gold.

The complete Games schedule can be found HERE. Results wll be posted on the Ontario Curling Association's website.

(The Nordic skiing has been cancelled because of lack of snow.)

Team Fitzgerald win Nova Scotia playdown 1/17/2010

Team Fitzgerald beat Team Brown 3-1 in a best of 5 series at the Lakeshore CC today to become Team Nova Scotia.

The series was tied at one overnight, but Fitzgerald stole one for a 5-4 win in an extra end in Draw 3 and, up one without the hammer in the 6th and final end of Draw 4, stole 2 to win 7-4.

Mike Fitzgerald, Laughie Rutt and Trendall Hubley-Bolivar, who all played in the 2009 Nationals, will be joined by rookie Debbie Earle at the Nationals in Kelowna March 15-21.

Four sport Paralympian Tom Killin profiled  1/16/2010

Tom Killin, expected to play second on Team Great Britain in Vancouver, began his Paralympic career at Arnhem in 1980. Now 59, he has competed in four Olympic sports at the games over a 30-year period, including basketball, fencing and table tennis.

"It takes you right round the world, you see some amazing places" Tom told Adam Morris. "I'm away somewhere every month, it's a full-time job now."

Read the complete profile HERE.

Team Great Britain officially announced  1/16/2010

The Royal Caledonian CC, the governing body of British curling, announced a familiar five names as the official Team Great Britain. Michael McCreadie will skip an all Scot squad that includes two other members of the team that suffered the heartbreak loss to Canada in Turin., Angie Malone and Tom Killin. They are joined by Aileen Neilson who took a leave of absence from her teaching job to train ful-time, and Jim Sellar who has attended four World Championships.

Said Michael McCreadie: "It is an honour for me to Skip the British team at the Paralympics in Vancouver. I make up 20% of the playing Team and there are four others who are truly world class performers. We have worked extremely hard to get back into winning ways, with the results from this year's tour clearly indicating we are on the right track. Preparations have gone really well and we plan in the next nine weeks to hone ourselves into a formidable adversary ready to take on the rest of the world."

Read the official announcement HERE.

Curling is expanding in the San Francisco Bay area  1/16/2010

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that curling is coming to downtown Oakland. The San Francisco Bay Area Curling Club is expanding beyond San Jose and Fremont, with a curling Open House at the Oakland Ice Centre on January 30th.

It being California, the rocks are cooled before use.And with one of the largest populations of young and active physically disabled people living in neighbouring Berkeley, there's lots of candidates for wheelchair curling.

Curling began with mostly Canadians, but now it's mostly locals with plans to get local High Schools involved. Read the whole article HERE.

"Don't hold back," says Team USA skip 'Goose' Perez  1/16/2010

Action Online, the magazine of the United Spinal, includes Team USA's Augusto Perez in a group of athletes asked to talk about their outlook on life. As befitting his style of play on the ice, Goose is forthright and positive.

“The first thing is to get over the idea that people look at you because of the chair or any other device. People got better things to do than to worry about how we look, and if they do it is their problem not yours,” Perez says.

Read the rest of his refreshing outlook on life HERE.

Brown and Fitzgerald tied after first day of NS playdown  1/16/2010

Two three man teams are playing a best of five series to decide who claims Debbie Earle and represents Nova Scotia at the Nationals in Kelowna. [see 1/7/2010 post below]. In draw 1 it was Fitzgerald 8-2, with reuslts reversed in the evening as Brown won 7-3. There will be two draws Sunday (17th) and a decider Friday January 22 if necessary.

CLICK HERE for Ian Readey's photos of the day's play.

Team Sobkowicz takes Manitoba playdown   1/16/2010

Chris Sobkowicz will represent Manitoba for the fifth time at the CanadianNational in Kelowna, March 15-21, after defeating Richard Dudek in a best of three playdown at the East St. Paul Curling Club. He made one change from the 2009 team, George Horning replacing Michael Alberg. Alberg played for the challengers, with Don Kalinsky and Effie Loubardias. 

Manitoba are an experienced side and will be favoured to improve on the bronze medals they won at the previous two Nationals; especially with with BC losing JIm Armstrong and Alberta losing  Brno Yizek  to the Paralympics.

Italy take the 2010 Identa Cup  1/10/2010

Andrea Tabanelli skipped Team Italy to a 6-0 record to win Germany's 2010 Identa Cup. Italy was one of two Paralympic teams in the seven team field. Jens Jager's Germany finished 4th with a 3-2-1 record.

At the 2009 Worlds Italy lost their opening draw to Germany, but then won four consecutive matches, including a 9-5 defeat of Canada, before fading to a 4-5 record overall.

Click HERE for full line scores and the final table.

Nova Scotia playdown winner gets the girl  1/7/2010

Making wheelchair curling a mixed gender sport was, according to WCF VP Kate Caithness, a key selling point in the campaign to join Paralympic Games. Recruiting female curlers, however, has been a struggle in Canada.

Nova Scotia came up with a creative solution by having a two team 3 on 3 playdown with the winner claiming Debbie Earle, the lone female, as their fourth member.

The playdown will be best of five games played January 16 and 17, and 22 if necessary at the Lakeshore CC in Lower Sackville, site of the 2009 Nationals.

Team (Richard) Brown has Terry Cousineuau and Keith Williams and Team (Michael) Fitzgerald has Laughie Rutt and Trendal Hubley-Bolivar.

The Lakeshore CC program has been going a few years now and has an active core of players who participate in regular league play and also the stick curling league. A new group is getting started at the Halifax CC, meeting on Sunday afternoons at 3.30 and supported by the Canadian Paraplegic Association. For more information contact Darrell Robar.

Team Saskatchewan selected  1/7/2010

The five person team that will represent Sakatchewan at the 2010 National Championship in Kelowna next March has been selected. There is one change from the 2010 team, with Terry Hart replacing Calvin Bird.

The team: Del Huber (Regina) Gil Dash (Wolseley) Marie Wright (Moose Jaw) Darwin Bender (Regina) and Terry Hart (Regina). The team will again be coached by Lorraine Arguin (Moose Jaw) assisted by Bob Capp (Regina).

Official Team Canada profiles online  1/6/2010

Did you know that Darryl Neighbour has 13 siblings? Find out more about the Team Canada members on the Canadian Paralympic Comittee's website.  Jim Armstrong - Darryl Neighbour - Ina Forrest - Sonja Gaudet - Bruno Yizek

Jim Armstrong interviewed on Shaw TV  1/6/2010

Team Canada skip Jim Armstrong gave an interview to an old friend, Fanny Keifer of Vancouver's Studio 4 Shaw Cable broadcast. Sitting in a regular studio chair, he talked about his transition to wheelchair curling, how strategy in the wheelchair game is different from regular curling, and stumbled into describing eligibility for wheelchair curling in terms of what the rules may become next April.

You can watch the 14 minute interview HERE

2010 Identa Cup in Schwenningen, Germany January 8-10  1/4/2010

Jens Jäger's Team Hunters, who will represent Germany at the Vancouver Paralympics, are hosting the 2010 Identa Cup in Schwenningen, January 8-10.

Seven teams will compete, including squads from Switzerland, Italy and the Czech Republic. The draw is HERE.

Curl at the Callie  1/4/2010

Things may be looking up for wheelchair users in Saskatchewan as I have been contacted twice since Christmas by people involved in promoting the sport. 

At the moment activity is centred on the Callie CC in Regina and wheelchair users have ice time on Monday afternoons. Darwin Bender and Del Huber of 2009 Team Saskatchewan, who finished a very creditable 4-5 in their first appearance at the Canadian Nationals in 2009, are part of a wheelchair team that plays in an Open League Wednesday evenings.

Click on links for earlier news
April 29, 2007 - December 31, 2008
September 2005 - April 13, 2007


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