Sunday, April 6, 2008

WCF considering rule book changes

Changes to the rules governing World Curling Federation sanctioned wheelchair curling events will be discussed during meetings at the Men's Worlds in Grand Forks ND this week.

The rule that a stone must be touching the centre line at delivery, is likely to be eased to bring the wheelchair game more in line with the angles available to players who use the hack. The counter-argument, as made to me by Norway coach Thoralf Hognestad during the 2008 Worlds, is that wheelchair users unhappy with the present rule should simply move back to the hack to compensate.

The WCF intends its rules to encourage participation by people with as wide a range as possible of disabilities requiring wheelchairs for daily mobility. While remaining sceptical about the utility of a disability points classification system, there's a desire to avoid wheelchair curling becoming the sole province of the heavily muscled. This is why they will prefer to move the rock off the centre line, rather than back from the hogline. It is also why skips are unlikely to be allowed to use brushing in the rings.

There are good arguments for Canada to be flexible in implementing WCF rules in its domestic program, especially as Team Canada exists independent of national competition. The mixed gender team rule, for example, while ensuring participation of women in countries with minimal overall participation, is probably unnecessarily restrictive in Canada where the potential for hundreds of teams certainly exists. It would be a shame to see Canadian development inhibited by an insistence that 25% of participants be female, when eligible males far outnumber eligible females.

Any WCF rule changes will not be implemented until after the 2010 Paralympics.

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