Saturday, December 31, 2011

And so it goes

The wheelchaircurling.com website, and later this blog which allowed me to add photos to posts, grew from a desire to promote curling as a viable winter recreation choice for wheelchair users. I also hoped to influence the direction of the sport's development, by sharing my ideas on how the game might be played and how it might be organised.

Since 2005 I have been the sport's unofficial archivist, reporting what would otherwise have gone unrecorded; understanding that a sport grows from its history.  But it was never intended to be a lifetime commitment and I am drawing it to a close before it becomes a chore rather than an enthusiasm.

I will keep the website and blog open, the articles and records available. Anyone who has read the articles and blog post comments will know my opinions. They have never been a secret and do not need a valedictory.

My thanks to those who have supported my efforts over the years. I have made many friends through my involvement in wheelchair curling, and I will continue to follow the sport with interest. If I have one regret it is that I lacked the physical skill to play competitively. I hope that my contributions in other areas have made a difference.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Answers to the 2011 Christmas Quiz

Here are the answers to our 2010 CHRISTMAS QUIZ. Maximum score 20 points. The questions are in a previous post, or you can just read the answers and make up your own questions.

I. Cate's answer was they are all blondes, but I cannily did not admit to having noticed. The official answer is they are all featured in the 2012 Women of Curling Calendar.

2. Sweden's Jalle Jungnell cut his 2010 Paralympic Bronze medal in half, and used the two halves to make new medals. He gave one to his 3rd, Glenn Ikonen who failed a drug test just before the playoffs and thus was not awarded his own medal.

3. Michael McCreadie represented Scotland and was the only wheelchair user at the 4 Nations Tournament at Fenton's CC in Kent, England last January, winning the Tom Ballantyne trophy - a five match competition between Scotland and England.

4. Sheila Swan coached the Scottish side at the 2011 Worlds in Prague because newly appointed British National Coach Tony Zummack was still waiting to receive his work permit.

5.Russia were 4th at the 2011 Worlds, losing the bronze medal game to Norway.
6.Norway's Tone Edvardsen was the first power-chair user to compete at a World Championship

7. Sweden, Germany and the host Czech Republic finished the 2011 Worlds tied with a 2-7 record. After tie-breaks, Sweden qualified for 2012 as the 8th place finisher.

8. Aileen Neilson was the first female skip at a World Championship, though in 2010 she had thrown 4th stones for Great Britain on a team skipped by Michael McCreadie.

9. Jalle Jungnell of Sweden switched from skip in 2010 to coach in 2011, and is expected to revert back to skip in 2012.

10. Japan cancelled their national championships scheduled to begin shortly after the earthquake and tsunami that destroyed much of the infrastructure where Japan's curling is based.

11. The $1,000 prize was offered by R. Vallee Home Rentals at the 2011 Nationals in Edmonton for a shot that covered the pin during the pre-game throws to decide hammer.

12.Although no one covered the pin, Manitoba skip Chris Sobkowicz threw a stone that finished within 4cm, winning him the $200 consolation prize

13. In 2011 Manitoba broke BC's streak of National Championship titles from 2007 - 2010. Prior to then, Team Canada were National Champions.
14. Jimmy Joseph is the only survivor of the four ever-present Team USA members from 2008 through 2011. Goose Perez, Jim Pierce and Jacqui Kapinowski all retired this year.

15. Slovakia will be the only rookie team at the 2012 Worlds in South Korea.

16. Norway won the 7th Annual Cathy Kerr Memorial, playing without skip Rune Lorentsen, who did not travel with the team.

17. Quebec's Team Lessard won the 6th US Open in Utica the week before the Cathy Kerr, going undefeated during an 8 team round robin.

18. The South Lanarkshire WCC used a donated haggis as a target at a fun spiel, possibly as an alternative to having to eat it.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The 2011 CHRISTMAS QUIZ

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CHRISTMAS QUIZ

Welcome to this year's Christmas Quiz. The questions have all been taken from posts written during the course of 2011 and reflect our international readership. Good luck. The 20 answers will appear in a couple of days.

1. What do Canada's Sonja Gaudet and Heather Smith-Dacey have in common with Scotland's Eve Muirhead and Sweden's Anette Norberg?

2. Who cut his Paralympic medal in half? Why?

3. Which wheelchair user represented his country in an international curling tournament at which all the other players were able-bodied?

4. Who coached Scotland at the 2011 World Championships?

5. Canada repeated as World champions in 2011 - which play-off team failed to win a medal?

6. The 2011 Worlds allowed powerchair users to compete for the first time. Who was the first athlete to compete using a powerchair?

7. Which of the 3 national teams teams involved in relegation tie-breaks avoided having to re-qualify for the 2012 Worlds?

8. Who was the first female to skip at a World Wheelchair Curling Championship?

9. Who was the first wheelchair user to coach a national team at a World Wheelchair Curling Championship?

10. Which country had to cancel their national championships in the face of natural disaster?

11. At what event did a sponsor offer a $1,000 sponsors prize for a hammer-deciding throw that covered the pin?

12. The $1,000 prize was not won, but someone won a consolation $200 for a shot that ended less than 4 cms from the pin? Who made that throw?

13. Which province broke BC's stranglehold on Canadian national titles?

14. Four Americans were ever-present on Team USA for the 4 years from 2008 through 2011. Of the four, who's been chosen compete in 2012?

15. Nine of the ten teams at the 2012 World Championships will have competed at that level before. Who's the tenth?

16. Norway travelled to Canada to compete at the 7th Annual Cathy Kerr Memorial Spiel. How did they do? Who was missing from their team?

17. Team Lessard from Quebec were beaten finalists at the Cathy Kerr. What event did they win the previous week?

18. The South Lanarkshire WCC changed the rules at a recent fun event. What Scottish delicacy was used as the target?

A very Happy Christmas to you all from Eric and Cate.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Michael McCreadie quits international stage

Scotland's Michael McCreadie has announced his resignation from international competition.

"I am no longer a member of the World Class Performance Squad," he told me. "Since the summer, although playing reasonably well and achieving some good results in International competitions, my heart wasn't in it any more - the enjoyment had gone. It was not an easy decision to make. I had to do what was best for me and ultimately the squad.

"I wish the coach and the squad every success in the future." 

Tony Zummack, the national coach, responded: "I do feel that Michael McCreadie will continue to be involved and support wheelchair curling in the future. I respect his decision to retire from international competition and also respect the time and commitment he made to the National Program."

Michael, 65, was a member of the Scottish team that contested the first World Championship in Switzerland, 2002, where he won a bronze medal playing 2nd under Frank Duffy. He won gold medals playing 3rd at the 2004 and 2005 Worlds, and was the British flag bearer in Torino in 2006 where he won silver.

He followed Duffy into retirement after the crushing last rock Torino defeat, but was soon back and skipped his country to bronze at the 2007 Worlds, a success that eluded his teams the following 3 years.

After the Vancouver Paralympics, where he skipped but threw 3rd stones, he announced he would take a year off. He returned this season, but with the Scottish team committed to his partner Eileen Neilson at skip after her silver medal at the 2011 Worlds, his role was to skip Scotland's B team. That is the position he has now quit.

Zummack is not immediately replacing him. "I am keeping the National Squad at 7 athletes and have had some of our development athletes come in to train and play with us and will have someone in place for the Lanarkshire International." (Jan 17-18)

Michael McCreadie played in 72 World Curling Federation events, ending with a 45-27 record, 2 gold and 2 bronze Worlds medals and a Paralympic silver medal.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Nova Scotia has new champions

Team Brown - Nova Scotia Champions coached by Bill Fletcher
Richard Brown, Terry Cousineau, Steve Parfitt and Paige Fougere

Richard Brown, Nova Scotia wheelchair curling's other skip, finally broke through to win his first provincial championship over the 5 time champions Team Rutt at the Lakeshore CC this weekend.

Brown, who skipped the winless NS Host team at the 2009 Nationals, faced opponents missing the services of skip Mike Fitzgerald who had relocated to New Brunswick, but as the best of five series began, his team of Terry Cousineau, Steve Parfitt and Paige Fougere could have been forgiven for thinking little had changed. Laughie Rutt, stepping up to skip but throwing 3rd stones in favour of Trendal Hubley-Bolivar, led his title defenders to a 10-2 opening night victory.

Game 1
Rutt * 1 0 1 1 3 1 3 x 10
Brown  0 2 0 0 0 0 0 x  2

Team Brown regrouped Saturday to steal the first 4 points of Game 2, and then hang on as Rutt, down 7-4 after 7, fell just a point short of forcing an extra end.

Game 2
Rutt * 0 0 1 1 0 0 2 2 - 6
Brown  3 1 0 0 2 1 0 0 - 7

It was deja vu in Game 3, as Brown again stole 3 in the 1st and added another in the 2nd before surrendering a 4 spot in the 7th to fall behind 7-6. Brown took one with hammer to force an extra and then stole 2 to lead the series 2-1.

Game 3
Rutt * 0 0 1 2 0 0 4 0 0 - 7
Brown  3 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 2 - 9

Sunday saw Team Rutt return to the form they showed in the opener as they posted 8 unanswered points to level the series at 2-2, after again giving up an opening end steal.

Game 4
Rutt * 0 2 4 1 1 x x x - 8
Brown  1 0 0 0 0 x x x - 1

The series decider returned to the pattern of Saturday as Team Brown, despite never earning the hammer, stole 2 in the 1st, added a single in the 2nd and stole 2 more in the 5th, finishing 8-3 winners and Nova Scotia Champions.

Game 5
Rutt * 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 x - 3
Brown  2 1 0 2 2 0 1 x - 8

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Scots put haggis to good use

Bill Masterton, Gary Marshall, Jan Drife and Steve Sutherland
[photo - Paul Webster]

The STV website reports that South Lanarkshire Wheelchair Curling Club marked St Andrew's Day (November 30) with a haggis curling competition.

The huge haggis, donated by sponsors Damn Delicious of Lanark. was used as the target in the competition that drew over 30 curlers to the Hamilton Ice Rink.

Bill Masterton, Gary Marshall, Steve Sutherland and individual winner Jan Drife secured the inaugural title. (photo on blog)

South Lanarkshire Wheelchair Curling Club chairman Arthur Bell described the day as "filled with lots of skill, sometimes a bit of luck as the beastie was whacked away, and always lots of fun. That's what amateur sport should be about."

Learn To Coach course in Greenock (SCO) January 8th

The Royal Caledonian CC, guardian of curling in Britain, is offering a workshop introducing coaches to wheelchair curling. The session costs £15 and will cover the basic delivery styles and skills used when teaching wheelchair curling.

CLICK HERE for details and a registration form.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Slovakia catches the attention of the IPC

 Radoslav Duriš, Branislav Jakubec, Dušan Pitoňák, Monika Kunkelová

Slovakia, surprise winners of the recent Qualifying Tournament for entry to the 2012 Worlds in Korea, were featured on the International Paralympic Committee website.

Curling began in Slovakia ten years ago and wheelchair curling five years ago, but progress has been swift. The skip, Radoslav Duris,  was formerly a swimmer and hockey player a car accident in high school.

“All of our players were sportsmen before, so they all have the hearts of sportsmen,” team coach Milan Kalis said.

Read the whole article HERE

Team Rutt off to strong start in Game 1 Nova Scotia Provincials

Team Rutt took an early one game lead against Team Brown in their best of 5 provincial championship at the Lakeshore CC in Nova Scotia.

Rutt *  1 0 1 1 3 1 3 x  10
Brown  0 2 0 0 0 0 0 x   2

Games 2 and 3 at 2.30 and 6.30 Saturday 17th.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Nova Scotia Provincials begin December 16-18

Two teams will compete at the Lakeshore CC in a best of 5 match for the right to represent Nova Scotia at the 2012 Nationals in Thunder Bay, March 18-25.

With Nova Scotia stalwart Michael Fitzgerald decamped to New Brunswick, his championship defending  team will be skipped by Laughie Rutt, who will continue to throw 3rd stones. Trendal Hubley-Bolivar will throw 4th, with lead Debbie Earle and a returning Keith Williams, back from a year off preparing for basketball at the Canada Games.

They will face perennial challengers Team Brown: Richard Brown at skip, 3rd Terry Cousineau, 2nd Steve Parfait and Paige Fougere at lead.

First game is Friday 16th at 8.30, with Saturday games at 2.30 and 6.30 plus Sunday games at 3 and 7pm if necessary.

BC Provincials scheduled February 2-5 in Kamloops

BC's Provincial Championship will be held at McArthur Island (Kamloops) from February 2-5, though as only two teams submitted entries by the December 9 deadline, that schedule may be  compressed.

Team Cormack, last year's surprise winners over a Jim Armstrong team featuring Darryl Neighbour and Chris Daw, will defend their title over a team skipped by Darryl Neighbour. Details when available will be published here and on playdowns.com.

BC were slow to adopt a playoff format for the Provincial team, but had 4 teams registered in 2009, and 3 in 2010 and 2011. This year's entry is very disappointing, considering how BC athletes have dominated the national team since 2007. Success at the national and international level is clearly no spur, at least in BC, to increased grassroots participation.

Team Canada miss out on IPC Best Team Award

The final round of awards from the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics was held in Beijing last Saturday: the International Paralympic Committee's Best Team Award went not to Canada, but to Japan's silver medal sledge hockey team. While it is possible that scandal may have influenced the Committee's decision, the citation emphasised that Japan's team had not been expected to medal before the Games began.

Team Canada have kept a very low profile this year. Rather than repeatedly traveling to compete internationally, much of the budget has been spent bringing in new people either to training camp or domestic competition to work with the six currently carded team members.

Team Canada 2012 has not been officially announced but Jim, who has now moved to Ontario, Darryl, Ina and Sonja will be in Richmond BC this weekend for one of two scheduled training camps prior to the 2012 Worlds in Korea, February 18-25. A January training camp has yet to be scheduled, though the team will compete in a Mixed Cashspiel in Prince George January 16-18.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wes Smith, USA Paralympian, 1940-2011

 Wes Smith at the Torino Paralympics 2006
[Photo: Joe Kusumoto]

The Bangor Daily News reports that Wes Smith died on Monday in Florida. Wes played in the inaugural Wheelchair Curling World Championships in Sursee SUI in 2002. He was also, at 65, the oldest competitor at the 2006 Torino Paralympics, a record overtaken by Japan's Takashi Hidai who was 75 when he curled at the Vancouver Paralympics in 2010.

Monday, December 5, 2011

USA selects team for 2012 World Championships

The five athletes who will represent USA at the 2012 World Championships in South Korea next February 18-25, have been announced though playing positions have not yet been decided.

The players are:

Patrick McDonald (Madison, Wis.)
James Joseph (New Hartford, N.Y.)
Penny Greely (Green Bay, Wis.)
David Palmer (Mashpee, Mass.)
and Tim Kelly (Rockford, Ill.) chosen as alternate.

Players were chosen based on their performance at an open-call training camp and at the US Open and Cathy Kerr Spiel.

USA lost their skip Augusto Pérez, 3rd Jim Pierce and lead Jacqueline Kapinowski to retirement after a tough 2011 Worlds campaign that saw them finish just one win above the relegation zone. This season they'll be led by Patrick McDonald who returns from shoulder surgery that kept him out of last year's championships. Experienced Jimmy Joseph and Penny Greely, last year's rookie alternate, return to the squad which has two newcomers; David Palmer and Tim Kelly.

Rockford's Channel 13 TV station interviewed Kelly after he made the team.

video

Saturday, December 3, 2011

wheelchair curling thriving at Ilderton CC

For those not beholden to national fundraisers like Own The Podium, wheelchair curling is about enjoyment - something easily forgotten amidst reporting's natural emphasis on competition and drama.

Ilderton Ontario's program has been rebuilt on that firm foundation. The coach, Ernie Comerford, after relocating to London Ontario and looking to recreate the success he helped biuld in Calgary, saw Ilderton CC had the closest accessible ice. It also had a storied history, hanging three Canadian Championship banners plus the Torino Paralympic Gold Banner; a leagcy of Chris Daw's early involvement at the club. But participation had collapsed post Torino, and it took a whole winter to encourage the first two wheelchair users to enter the ice in the Spring of 2008.

Since then there has been a steady growth in participation at the recreational level, while two teams played in this year's Cathy Kerr, one reaching the semis. Two players, Mark Ideson and Mike Munro, attended the National Training program and participated on Team Canada II in Richmond in November.

This season the recreational group meets on Sundays from 11 am until 1 pm.  The competitive group plays in a regular mixed league weekly and attends separate practices during the week.  The Club intends to enter two teams in the January 2012 Provincials near Ottawa, with the hope that will expand to three in the future.

The Club belives in outreach, and owns a set of demonstrations rocks to promote the game and recruit newcomers at local malls.

Here is a video af highlights from the 2010-2011 season that gives a taste of the positive energy that motivates the club.



Wheelchair Curling is alive and well in the London area and it keeps getting better, says Ernie.  Anyone interested should contact Ernie Comerford at 519-203-0087 or by email at erniecomerford@rogers.com.

Calgary's curlers facing challenges

Calgary's wheelchair curlers lost their Ogden CC home when the curling club disbanded over the summer, and have struggled to find viable alternatives to their old fully accessible venue. They have been playing in an able-bodied league at the Calgary CC, and that club have been very supportive, going so far as to purchase an expensive (and heavy) ramp to allow side door ice access.

Getting suitable practice time at what may be Canada's busiest club, however, has proven impossible. The Garrison CC has provided practice ice late Sunday afternoon; an awkward time that has meant a drop off of attendance especially among the recreational players.

 Bridget Wilson - founder and 6-time Alberta champion
at the 2011 Nationals in Edmonton
 .
The team itself. together for over seven years, is adjusting to the absence of a founding member. Bridget Wilson. Bridget got wheelchair curling started in Alberta but always found traveling a strain. She spends most of the winter in Arizona and decided to step back for a year at the conclusion of last season; spending more time with her family and not concerning herself with being match ready come the 2012 Nationals.

Bridget remains part of the team and is playing in a fun league while in Phoenix, though Martin Purvis will play front end at this season's competitions. Martin joined the team in 2009, winning silver at the 2009 and 2011 Nationals while playing 2nd, and also made the All-Star roster in 2010.

 Martin Purvis steps up to front end

There is a possibility that Calgary will be challenged for the southern Alberta slot at Provincials by a team from Lethbridge, who recently brought six players to Calgary for an afternoon pof curling. Medicine Hat is also rumoured to be preparing a team.