Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cormack out, Roy in as Team Canada squad prepare for 2010

BC lead Jackie Roy March 2009
photo - Ian Readey

Canada's Paralympics squad includes a third female, Jackie Roy, who takes the place of fellow British Columbian Gary Cormack.

Coach Wendy Morgan said that the decision had been made to include two females in the final team. This reflects program director Gerry Peckham's concern that having only one female posed an unnecessary risk of default were she unable to play.

Given this concern, a third female makes sense, both to provide backup and some competition for places until the team is announced late this year.

Jackie Roy has high performance competition experience as a summer sport Paralympian, and has twice won gold at the Canadian Nationals, playing lead for Jim Armstrong. Team Canada coach Joe Rea said in February that there was little to choose between Roy and other members of the national squad.

Curlers outside of BC, especially Albertans, may be disappointed that the squad was not widened geographically, especially after Bridget Wilson's All-Star performance as lead for Team Alberta.

Team Canada are looking for someone who can throw reliable up-weight stones at lead. While Ina Forrest has that ability, the coaches prefer her at second. Sonja Gaudet is reworking her delivery to add weight, and I am not sure that Jackie Roy offers a challenge in that regard. But then neither does Alberta's Wilson.

My feeling is that given that whoever was chosen to be third woman is unlikely, absent injury, to make the final cut, the decision to pick Roy was a pragmatic one. She is a more than competent lead, has "big game" experience, plays regularly with Armstrong and Neighbour, and lives close to where most of the training is likely to take place.

Gary Cormack, a Torino gold medallist, loses his squad place, though Gerry Austgarden and Bruno Yizek have "based on the last 3 years of evaluation" been invited to "try out" for the team.

I have in the past quoted Peckham as saying that each of the eight squad members will have an equal opportunity to compete for a Paralympics team spot once training begins in July. Whether that assurance has survived the post-season evaluations remains to be seen.

The current carding cycle, the mechanism by which five curlers receive a full and one a development monthly stipend to support their training, ends in June. It will be interesting, and probably indicative of future prospects, to know who has been chosen to receive funding through 2010. 

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