Sunday, October 26, 2008

"Wheelchair Watch" column in SWEEP! Magazine (October 2008)

As wheelchair curling matures, it is moving closer to the able-bodied game. Summer rule changes lifted the patronising 6-end limit and brought in time clocks to put a stop to 3 hour games. [read more]

USA male curler of the year profiled by News 10 Now, NY

Augusto 'Goose' Perez, skip of the 2009 Worlds bronze medal medalists is profiled in a news and video report. Perez lost a leg to a rare cancer, but his success in skipping Team USA to its first medal was recognised by his being named USA male curler of the year.

"It was happy and sad at the same time. It was happy because I got the award, but at the same time I don't think that they can pick one single person," he told reporter Jim Gibbons, going on to say that it's a team game, not won or lost by an individual effort.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Canada beat Canada in Kinross final

Canada 1 beat Canada 2 on a draw to the button, after seven ends of play saw the teams tied 5-5. Norway beat Great Britain 6-3 for 3rd place. Follow this link for a match report.

1st place -  Canada 1
Jim Armstrong, Gerry Austgarden,
Chris Sobkowicz, Sonja Gaudet
2nd place - Canada 2
Darryl Neighbour, Ina Forrest,
Bruno Yizek, Gary Cormack
3rd place - Norway
Jostein Stordahl, GeirArne Skogstad,
Anne Mette Samdal, Rune Lorensen
4th place - Great Britain
Tom Killin, Michael McCreadie,
Jim Sellar, Aileen Neilson
All photos courtesy of Royal Caledonian Curling Club

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Newfoundland and Labrador to compete at 2009 Nationals

Chris Daw,  ex-Team Canada skip who has relocated to St. John's, Newfoundland, says that his adopted province will compete for the first time at the 2009 Nationals in Nova Scotia.

Leslie Ann Walsh will coach the side, which will include Lanie Woodfine and Joanne McDonald who were on Team Atlantic at the 2008 event.

Daw is doubtful of the prospect of a return to the ice. " I am not to sure about playing anymore. I would like to think I still have the talent but I am not to sure about the time. I am helping the team develop a few skills, etc. but playing.....I think retirement is calling my name!"

Sonja Gaudet featured in Vancouver 2010 ad campaign

Team Canada lead and Paralympic gold medalist Sonja Gaudet is one of the athletes featured in the ICBC drive to raise money for Vancouver 2010 by selling special vehicle license plates. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Jim Armstrong cleared to skip Canada at 2010 Paralympics

6-time Brier competitor Jim Armstrong, presently skipping a Canadian team at the Kinross International bonspiel in Scotland, met today with the WCF's eligibility classifier and the word is that he has been cleared to play in WCF events. Though the decision has not been officially announced, a highly placed CCA source confirmed the change, noting that Manitoba's Chris Sobkowicz, who also makes every effort not to limit his movement to his wheelchair while being unable to enter the ice without it, has been similarly declared eligible.

Armstrong was already eligible for Canadian competition and skipped BC to the 2008 national title, but had previously been denied eligibility for world events by the WCF. He will now be eligible to skip Team Canada at the 2009 Worlds in Vancouver and also the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics.

The issue of eligibility was discussed in this article. While it is not yet known what made the WCF change their minds on Armstrong, is is in all likelihood a recognition that his reliance on a wheelchair has increased in the past year as predicted in this news item.

Canadian teams lead after 3 games at Kinross

Both Canadian teams have 3-0 records after the second day at the Kinross International bonspiel. Russia withdrew which will complicate standings, and unpublished bonspiel rules allocate (tie-break?) points beyond won/loss records.
photo courtesy Bob Cowan
Canada skip Jim Armstrong delivers, braced by Chris Sobkowicz
and watched by Sonja Gaudet

Bob Cowan's Curling Today blog has several photos and the standings.
Pool 1

Canada 1 - 3 points
Norway 1 - 1 point (8 ends)
Switzerland - 1 point (6 ends and plus shots)
Scotland 2 - 1 point (6 ends minus 6 shots)
England - 0 points
Pool 2

Canada 2 - 3 points
Great Britain - 2 points
Scotland 2 - 1 point
Wales - 0 point

Monday, October 20, 2008

Quebec joins the party

Quebec is the latest province to boast an organized wheelchair curling program, with the action happening on Sunday mornings 10am to noon at the Lennoxville CC. Al Whittier, who has many years of experience working with disabled athletes on the ski slopes, is now working with a core group of curlers, several of whom have represented Canada at other sports.

The Lennoxville club will host a clinic on November 1st at 9 am run by CCA ambassador Guy Hemmings and ex-Team Canada skip Chris Daw. Local coaches as well as wheelchair users are invited to attend and learn about the wheelchair game in the hope they will spread the word throughout the province. Contact the club for more information.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Canada sending 2 teams to Kinross International

The Kinross International Invitational will take place October 21-23rd. Teams from Canada (2) Great Britain,  Scotland (2) England, Wales, Norway, Russia and Switzerland  will compete in 2 groups with the final set for 3.15pm local time next Thursday.

The 5 member Team Canada squad (Neighbour, Austgarden, Forrest, Gaudet and Cormack) will be joined by Jim Armstrong, Chris Sobkowicz and Bruno Yizek.

Canada are hoping during the trip to have the WCF's eligibility assessor declare Armstrong eligible for WCF (and therefore Paralympics) competition, presumably on the grounds that though he does not presently use a wheelchair for his daily mobility, his condition is deteriorating and he is only able to curl from a wheelchair.

The event brochure states that the "competition will follow WCF rules" so it is unclear what will happen is the assessor's opinion does not go Canada's way.

Grant money for equipment and clothing?

The Hamilton Advertiser notes that the Lloyds TSB Foundation For Scotland has made grant for equipment and clothing to an (unspecified) wheelchair curling club.

While it is becoming more common for clubs to seek financial assistance for capital expenditure on access improvements, individual curlers should remember that there is often local money available for the asking for team jackets, embroidery and other expenses. Make an appeal in your local paper, make a brochure, print some photos, and show some initiative to get your team or club properly financed. Write to for information on how to go about getting sponsorship.

Ottawa's Capital Wheelchair CC's season starts today

Ice is available to wheelchair curlers at the RA Curling Club from 3 to 5 pm each Saturday. All wheelchair users are welcome. Contact Bruce Cameron for more information. An Ottawa team will be traveling to Utica NY to challenge Team USA and the Scots at the USA Open December 5-7.

Lockerbie curlers can now buy their own beer

The South of Scotland ice rink at Lockerbie, home of the Lockerbie Wheelchair Curling Club, has just installed an elevator (lift) so wheelchair users can get to  the bar. Improvements to the five sheet club were paid in part by a grant from SportScotland.

With curling's reputation as a social sport, access to the bars and viewing areas may be the boost that wheelchair curling needs as it attempts to appeal to new players. [read full story with photos]

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Two slots still open for 2009 USA Open, Dec 5-7, Utica NY

Six teams have signed up so far for the international bonspiel in Utica NY from December 5-7. Two British teams will compete against two USA teams and teams from Ottawa and Bradford in a round robin format. Registration is still open, details from Marc DePerno.

Team Canada will not be appearing as they are committed to the Cathy Kerr bonspiel in Ottawa the weekend before and to an international bonspiel that starts in Vancouver on December 9th. Given the paucity of opportunities to compete against world class opposition during the season, it is unfortunate that organizers of each event were unable to coordinate the calendar to allow Team Canada to compete in Utica.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Nova Scotia gearing up for big season

The Lakeshore CC in Lower Sackville NS will be host for the 2009 Nationals. Their recreational program begins this evening (October 6th) at 6.15pm and continue throughout the season.

Newcomers are very welcome and the first night's ice time is free. The group is hoping that more females will join the group as wheelchair curling is a mixed gender sport. For those experienced wheelchair curlers there is a stick curling league on Wednesday evening that is more competitive. For information contact Laughie Rutt at 902-864-2737.

Saskatchewan committed to field team at 2009 Nationals

The Saskatchewan Curling Association is committed to sending a team to the March 2009 Nationals in Nova Scotia, and will hold a provincial selection camp on January 24 at the Callie CC in Regina.

The Callie is also hosting reparation sessions and league play. On Mondays starting October 20th and running through March there will be instructional time and mini-games. Sign up costs $100. Contact Bob Capp (306-761-1832) or the club directly.

Those interested in playing in regular leagues have that option if they can form their own team, or if interested in getting on a team that will play Wednesday evenings they should contact the Callie Club (306-525-8171). League fees are $335 plus tax and includes access to the Monday sessions.

There will be a one day workshop for players and coaches  on Saturday November 1st, run by Jim Armstrong and Whitney Warren, both members of the National Team Program. Contact the Saskatchewan Curling Association for more information.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Volunteers needed for Kinross (Scotland) Invitational

Kinross will be hosting a  10 team international spiel October 21-23 and the Curling Today blog notes that on-ice volunteers are needed. Two Canadian teams will be competing against Team GB, Russia, Norway, Switzerland, England, Wales and 2 domestic teams. Contact Ena Stevenson if you are able to help.