Saturday, March 13, 2010

Paralympics Day 1 review - Canada show they mean business

 Team Canada's Ina Forrest and Sonja Gaudet
photo - Martin Rose
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 silver 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.

Full line scores and tables can be found HERE.

Canada play Norway in Draw 3 their only game on Day 2.

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