Saturday, January 23, 2010

In sign of maturing sport, 7 of 9 provinces hold playdowns

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.


Anonymous said...

Certainly won't be the same without Armstrong and his team at Canadians. I really feel that we lost an opportunity to showcase the Nationals, with the conflict with the Paralympics.

Wayne Ficek said...

If I am lucky to make it again, I won't miss them. (No slight intended as Jim is a bonus to our sport). Now's the chance to showcase the rest of the talent in Canada.



Michael Fitzgerald said...

Eric must be too busy to get around to correcting his story...LOL If 10 teams are going to be playing at the Nationals then 8 provinces are sending teams and not 9 as stated. Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick will not be there. Northern Ontario is not a separate province.


Eric Eales said...

True, Northern Ontario is not a province geographically, but it is for the purposes of curling, so I am giving it honorary provincial status. I wonder whether the capital will remain Kenora, or move to Thunder Bay this year?

Anonymous said...


You make a GREAT point. Without Jim, there will be a better assessment of where the rest of the Nation is. I doubt that the Prince George Boys will enjoy their recent success without Jim.

On the other side of the sword, though, is the perception that the Nationals is simply a training ground to attempt to get Team Canada status.

Interesting situation, without a real resolution.