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    Saturday, June 13, 2009

    Danish coach Per Christensen takes over Team Norway

     
    IN - Denmark's Per Christensen
    .

    Out - Norway's Thoralf Hognestad
     
    Thoralf Hognestad, says: "Due to a new work situation, I have resigned as coach of Team Norway."

    Thoralf joined the team after they narrowly lost to Canada in the semi-final at Torino, a game he feels Norway should have won. His team did win the World Championship in 2007 and 2008.

    Thoralf's teams were known for winning, not for statistical accomplishment. He selected athletes of proven ability in other sports and moulded them into repeat world champions. "We don't play the able-bodied game," he'd say. "We play the wheelchair game, and we always have a back-up plan." He put down the lack of success in 2009 to the lack of a local training facility for the entire season. "We just couldn't practice enough," he said, though Norway were still able to defeat Canada in a meaningful last round robin draw.

    He has struggled to balance coaching and work commitments for some time, and hands off to Denmark's Per Christensen. Per, 53, has been coach of the Danish national wheelchair curling team since 2004 and attended the 2009 Worlds as an observer. He shared my surprise that so few teams came into their games against Canada with a specific plan to win.

    "I would for sure, tell my team how to play the Canadian team. It was for me easy to see how it could be done," he told me, without divulging the details. In Team Norway he has curlers who have proved they know how to win. We'll see how good his plan is, and how well they implement it in Vancouver next March.

    60 comments:

    Anonymous said...

    So how wil he beat Team Canada. Jim is going to personally improve, and that will improve the entire team. And does he think Norway will out-skip Armstrong??????

    Canada won this year by ice reading and strategy.

    Anonymous said...

    Per's comment about knowing the simple way to beat anada would have to include kidnapping Jim Armstrong.

    Sounds like he has thrown a challenge out to Canada, and I can't ee him being successful.

    Anonymous said...

    I can't wait to see Per coach Norway past Armstrong's skipping and on-ice coaching.....not going to happen

    Anonymous said...

    So what is Canada's achilles heel? Per sounds pretty sure of himself for a coach that couldn't get his initial team into Paralympics.

    Anonymous said...

    Didn't I hear a few days ago that Jim Armstrong was offered the coaching position in Norway?

    Anonymous said...

    So, now it's all about "how to beat Canada"........what a difference a year makes.

    I guess selection seems to work

    Anonymous said...

    Team Norway has the history, but I think Team Canada has the future.

    Anonymous said...

    Sounds like a Norway challenge...let's see how the fall schedule works out....my money is on Canada

    Anonymous said...

    If selection is so great then why are they always afraid to play the national winner for the top spot?

    Anonymous said...

    I understand that im Armstrong is in favour of a national winner/Team Canada playoff, but don'tknow how that will sit with the CCA stakeholders.

    Anonymous said...

    CCA stakelolders will not allow this, and, ironically, it will be Jim's presence that now will give them the record to prove the program works.

    If Jim wants to see this, he will have to rign from Team Canada, assemble a team, and challenge them

    Anonymous said...

    Playdown will not occur until at least after 2014.....

    Face it folks, until then it is a selected team.

    and I don't care who likes it or not including Jim Armstrong.

    The powers that be......the money givers like it the way it is.

    Anonymous said...

    I think Armstrong will press for a playoff post 2010.

    He doesn't like anything that appears biased.

    It will be interesting to see how much impact he has on the Powers that be....CCA

    Anonymous said...

    If selection lasts to 2014, it will last until Joe Rae retires.

    And now, why should he? His "program" just resulted in a World Championship, and likely many more trinkegts in the near future....oh, sorry, PERHAPS the success of the program is the result of Jim Armstrong being able to save their collecive a__es.

    Anonymous said...

    So Per has the answer on how to beat Team Canada.......

    How can anybody in their right mind make such a foolish statement?

    Anonymous said...

    When will the CCA admit they lucked out. Armstrong's inclusion in the program has legitimatized hundreds of thousands of dollars spent.

    Without this oddity, Canada is middle of the pack, regardless of money spent, and their "selection process" would look like hell.

    Eric Eales said...

    I think any national coach worthy of their title will have a plan to defeat any opposing team. Whether they have the athletes to put that plan into motion is another matter.

    What surprised Per, and surprised me, is how few players we spoke to (and between us we had spoken to a lot) had a specific plan to beat Canada. "We just play our own game," was a typical comment.

    At other levels of international competition, Canadian coaches predominate, but not so far with wheelchair curling. I think it would be fair to say that most national programs do not have the financial resources, or the depth of coaching experience (and with Armstrong, the playing experience) available to Canada.

    But Canada can be beaten, even with Armstrong, as their 4th best 5-4 round robin record at the 2009 Worlds showed. That record included a final game loss to Norway when Canada's playoff place had not been assured.

    So I think that anyone who studied Canada's performance at the Worlds could easily see where their weaknesses lie and could draw up a plan to exploit them. But then that plan would have to be executed and with the sport at its current level technically, there's only so much a coach can do to ensure that.

    How would I have tried to beat Canada at the 2009 Worlds? Put pressure on the front end's hitting game. Then force Armstrong to make his shots by playing into the middle, knowing that if he struggles, so does the team, especially Neighbour.

    Will that plan work next year? I don't know. But I do know from observation that Canada likes to keep the front open for skips stones, so that's where my 2010 plan would start. And I am sure that with his experience Per has just as viable a plan for Norway.

    Anonymous said...

    Eric:

    I think your strategy is right as far as you go. If you allow Armstrong to dictate the type of game, you will lose, pure and simple. However, Jim will dictate and control the game unless you take significant chances, forcing the game to a bump and grind in the four foot. The problem is that if you continue to ignore the outside to force the game to the middle, he will eventually make you pay by counting the points in the twelve foot. That is Canada's big advantage.......there will be NO strategy mistakes in a game that can be won by strategical advantage.

    Anonymous said...

    The other point is that Jim was on his own self-professed "learning curve" of his first real international competition at the Worlds 2009. He will be much better, and, obviously so will the rest of the team. His strategy is second to none, and this, linked with improved shooting, wil makd Team Canada VERY difficult to beat.

    Anonymous said...

    Hey, check it out........

    Our rookie skip, in his first real competition, hits gold, and by his own admission, was on a learning curve. No team, with whatever coaching will be better equipped....and his game will improve????? And this will raise the game of the rest of the team?????

    Good luck, Norway....

    Anonymous said...

    Okay, good for Per for figuring out how Norway can beat a fourth ranked team in the world....why all the interest, if Canada "lucked out" at the Worlds, and they are actually, as the record pre-2009 shows is they are a non-medal team?

    Perhaps they know that from here on the team to beat is Canada, and Canada is only going tobe they can get better, and establish themselves as a new benchmark. AND, we will likely do it with two women on the starting line-up, so no issues with the rules......maybe they can ban Armstrong again....

    My take....Canada at least even money to win in 2010.

    Anonymous said...

    Good luck, Per.....Want to make a bet against Team Canada?

    You are covered for any amount of $$$$$$$

    Anonymous said...

    Big Jim is only going to get better, and Team Canada, probably at their worst, takes gold last year......I predict
    Team Canada will win every event that they participate in next season

    Anonymous said...

    I don't think I would be so quick to say I have the way to beat Canada.

    I believe, that with a full season of play, Jim will virtually be unbeatable.

    Anonymous said...

    Ridiculous to say they can beat Canada.

    Jim and the team will be MUCH stronger next season, and they HAVE ALREADY WON THE WORLDS!!!

    Anonymous said...

    Interesting concept, Eric, on how to beat Canada. But one of the earlier comments exposed the flaw......you will have to gamble the farm to force Armstrong out of his game plan, and ONE mistake, he will stick the knife in and break it off.

    I watched Jim for years in the able-bodied game literally lead the opposing skip by his nose and force him into the Armstrong game plan, and in Wheelie curling, he brings such a large advantage to the game.

    Eric Eales said...

    I think the point here is not that Canada will be beaten: it is to say that having a plan is necessary, and certainly better than having no plan at all.

    Anonymous said...

    Good point, Eric.

    But I think any game plan which will POTENTIALLY take Jim away from his plan will involve significant risk. I also believe that as Jim and his crew get more game time together, they will be technically more sound than last season, which will start the cycle again, of allowing Jim to play his own game AND having the shotmaking to back it up. A daunting task for any country to attack, since, I believe that our strategic advantage is lightyears ahead of the rest of the world.

    Anonymous said...

    The "new" Team Canada is so far above any team we have had to date. Technically sound, and improving; startegically alone at the top; AND no apparent philosophical or team issues.

    Seems like the "dream team" for our sport.

    Anonymous said...

    Brings it back to giving Chris Daw another shot....they could be stronger with another hitter....and it seems Chris could button the mouth under Jim's direction.

    Anonymous said...

    Sorry, CCA will NOT chance Mr. Daw at this point in time, and should not even be suggested. I hope that as 2010 develops, they will get into a continuation of the program.....Jim and Darryl will not be around forever......let's take advantage of the experience and bring on the next generation. Jim would be a natural to coach when he decides to retire from play

    Anonymous said...

    As Team Canada solidifies this comming season, it will set the mark for future years......Armstrong will improve, and the team will grow with him

    Anonymous said...

    I still think Daw could be a potential asset.

    Anonymous said...

    I can see Sonja on he starting lineup sill an issue, despite her performance at the Worlds. Common sense suggests they should have a better hitter to coordinate with Jim's game plans. Balance is what Sonja brngs to the on-ice team dynamic.

    One of the bigger decisions, in a pretyy much set side

    Anonymous said...

    As Armstrong goes, so will Team Canada, and I suspect jim will reset the standards for the sport.

    Norway will not be close.

    Anonymous said...

    Jim is good, in fact better than good. And no question, he has knowledge of trategy, ice-reading, team amanagement that able-bodied teams dream of. BUT, he cannot win alone. Joe and Jim HAVE to improve the play of the rest of the team to take advantage of what he brings to the party.

    It would also help if the team cna mature enough to understand a more sophisticated game, rather than merey accept Jim's word.

    That said, I imagine EVEY team in the world would like to have these as the main isues.

    You are a very lucky coach, Joe Rea.

    Anonymous said...

    Eric:

    Don't you find it interesting that for the first time EVER, Canada is the team to beat.

    I certainly don't wnat to minimize the 2006 win, but, by everyone's admission, it was an upset, in the semi's and again in the finals.

    Seems that Canada is now the team to beat, with the 2009 world win......I have often wondered....at the worlds, did Canada make it close? They lost early, they lost mid-week, they even lost the last of round-robin, knowin they could do no worse than tie-breaker......they then hit the playoffs, and, low and behold, Armstrong goes 88% against USA, and on and on.....no game in playoffs within 5 points...

    Worth some conversation in my opinion......

    I know that JIm "missed" his last shot in Scotland, only to result in a tie with the other Team Canada, assuming a two team Canadian tie is great, and then the locals request a toss-off for a winner, with which Jim simply won it since they Team Canada 1 and 2) couldn't go home tied.



    T

    Anonymous said...

    You are correct, Eric.

    Canada CAN be beaten, but I think the law of averages say they will win more than their share of close games, simply because there will be no strategic mistakes. It showed at the Worlds, that a so - so week technically still turned into a major win.

    Canada is on heir own level for strategy and ice-reading.

    Anonymous said...

    Team Canada will be a marked team this coming season. It will be interesting to see how the team handles the added presure, since other than Jim, this will be a new experience.

    Anonymous said...

    Even Jim has not experienced the favourite role in this format.....tough for the entire team, and team dynamic will have to show.

    Anonymous said...

    It appears that Team Canada has finally found team harmony (rather in the good old days). It will do them well as they embark on such a big season.

    Anonymous said...

    I think Pers opinion is out of line, and if he had a guaranteed game plan, he would not talk about it. Go, Canada, GO

    Anonymous said...

    It will be a very interesting season. Jim will no doubt continue to improve, and the rest of the team, I suspect will improve with him.

    Are they doing much over the summer?

    Eric Eales said...

    Team Canada have 3 training camps scheduled before leaving for Norway and Scotland the second week in October.

    July 23-25th in Edmonton
    August 21-23 in either Edmonton or Richmond
    September 25-27 in Richmond area

    Anonymous said...

    Doesn't seem to be a particularly agressive off-season, when you look at the size of the year. Complacent????

    Anonymous said...

    I wonder if he resignation was a result of Joe Rea;s success with Team Canada

    Per Christensen - Team Norway Coach said...

    Thanks all for your comments. First I will say that I have great respect for Team Canada, Jim Armstrong and for Coach Joe Rea, who I all call my friends. I have no intention what so ever to put down Team Canada. On the contrary, my comment was made out of respect for the Canadian team, who have improved their game very much from the Worlds in Sursee 2008 to Vancouver 2009.

    As Coach you have to find weakness in the opposing team. You are right in the fact that Jim is brilliant in tactics and in reading the ice, no doubt about that. But a team is no better than the weakest link. That is why you have to find precisely that in the opposing team. Which player does not perform his or her best, put pressure on the opposing team and other things which destroy the opposing teams play. As Coach I see the Canadian team as the most likely winners of the Paralympic Gold Medal, so you have to have a plan if you want to beat Team Canada.

    As I said before, I have only great respect for Team Canada and it is a privilege to be their friend. They do also know that. See you all in Vancouver in March 2010

    Anonymous said...

    Per:

    That is quite simply, a great explanation. And you are right in picking Canada as the team to beat in 2010. And, given that fact, then everyone's focus has to be to analyze them, and in particular, Jim, to determine the opportune way to attack them, since there will be 9 other teams wanting to hit the podium.

    Wish you almost all the success in 2010 (obviously, I am still a "homer")

    Anonymous said...

    Very well put,Per.

    I still see Norway as the team to beat, what with their experience, and success since the last Paralympics.....most successful team on the planet.

    I agree that Jim Armstrong is the big difference in Team Canada since 2008, but as has been discussed here, the biggest advantages he brings still requires some help from the rest of the team to utilize fully.

    Anonymous said...

    Absolutely right, Per,

    Jim and Team Canada are definitely the new benchmark to beat.

    Anonymous said...

    I believe, as well, that the team to beat will be Norway....by far and away, the most success in the last few tears, and Team Canada could simply be an anomaly for last year.

    Anonymous said...

    No chance.

    TEam Canada is now real, nd the best. Look for a way to beat them....good luck......

    Anonymous said...

    I agree that Team Canada now has to be the team to beat.

    It is tough to beat great strategy and ice reading.

    Certainly would be a more balanced field without Armstrong.

    Anonymous said...

    You are correct. Without Jim, you could through a blanket over the top four teams, with Norway and Germany probably witht he advantae.

    Anonymous said...

    Agree with the selection process or not, love or hate Jim Armsstrong, the reality is that Canada has now placed themselves at the top of the "International" heap, which is where Ottawa and Joe Rea planned to be...can't argue with results....

    Anonymous said...

    So, I am sure Canadian curlers want to be perceived as he best, and as they should be.....and seems everyone has accepted Jim's eligibility, as it should be (only one assessor in the history of the sport), so does Jims playing orque an otherwise very level playing field, or does his participation improve the profile of the sport?

    Personally, I think that we need him to carry the message, as we go through our biggest media opportunity this coming season.

    Anonymous said...

    And all thanks to Joe Rea....he fought for Jim's eligibility.

    Anonymous said...

    Now we are back to an original issue....should Jim be allowed to play?

    Just because he has experience should not negate him from a competiton of neophytes.I doubt any other country would negate him because he is too good

    Anonymous said...

    Jim is eligilble, and Canada gets the benefit, end of story

    Anonymous said...

    Sorry, don't think so....Jim needs surgery before he can play next season, and no date set. Heard this from a reliable source. Doesn't that but a new spin on things? Where is Chris?????