The fire marshals shut down the brand new Halden Curling Centre last Monday, necessitating a change of venue for the 3-day Norwegian Open that began today. The event was moved a two hour drive from the hotel away to the Snarøya CC in Oslo, home of Dordi Nordby.
Canada was scheduled to play Scotland, USA and one of the Norway teams today but results are not yet available.
I did however have the opportunity to speak with Thoralf Hognestad, who coached Team Norway for three years and a double World Championship before handing over to Per Christensen this summer.
Thoralf has long argued that Norway's success was down to their understanding of the different demands of the wheelchair game. (He put their struggles at the 2009 Worlds down to lack of ice for training, though they did beat Canada.) He feels the team that will win in Vancouver next March will be the team with the highest percentage on takeouts. "It's a hitting game, especially on European straight ice," he said. "It's harder to hit on Canadian ice that swings 6 feet, but I think the team with the best hitting game will win."
Does Norway have that potential? "They have the potential," he said, "but it is open. Canada won last March because of Jim Armstrong's ability at skip. He understood a lot more about the wheelchair game than when we first played him in Europe."
Hognestad was dubious of Korea's chances, though they bring with them a reputation as a big-hitting team. "They were a little fortunate to reach the final in 2008," he said, "and I don't think they have improved much over the last few years. Korea and China both play a draw, draw, draw and wait and see what happens style, and I don't think that will be enough to win. Canada has a big advantage at skip but I think the Paralympic competition is open."
I hope to have news and results from Oslo later this weekend.