Monday, March 29, 2010

Photos from the 2010 Canadian National Championships

Scott Thompson took photos at the Championship and has posted them HERE.

Here's a small selection.

BC Host - 2010 Canadian National Champions

Team BC - 2010 Canadian National Silver Medalists

Team Manitoba - 2010 Canadian National Bronze Medalists

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A look back at the Paralympics

Team Canada 2010
Jim Armstrong Darryl Neighbour, Ina Forrest, Sonja Gaudet, Bruno Yizek
Canada won their gold medal, Korea reawakened to the form that saw them runners-up at the 2008 Worlds, Sweden persevered past a miserable start and a tie-break day suspension of their last rock thrower, and USA did not quite go-all-the-way. The Richmond press hailed the Darryl and Jim show, while the Okanagan press celebrated Ina and Sonja and we all see what we want to see.

All but one lead shot over 60% with half closer to 70%. Ina Forest was the only 2nd over 60% and the Italian 3rd Egidio Marchese sat far alone at 66%. The best skips shot in the mid 50s. For all the celebration of the many excellent shots made, and while there was probably an improvement over Torino, it remains stubbornly difficult to break out of the 50% range as a back end player.

There are shot by shot analyses available on the Vanoc website, so I am not going to report on specific games. Here's some general thoughts on what it might all mean going forward

Canada were everyone's pick to win gold though they quivered a little at the end. Korea stole to within one from an 8-1 deficit and Armstrong faced as consequential a last rock shot as Great Britain's Frank Duffy did four year's ago in Torino. He didn't miss, and the Canadian coaches will feel vindicated in their decision to parachute him into the team.

I hope Jim sees his future as advancing the sport outside of the cocoon of national team player.  I'd like to see him get his coaching credentials and become a full-time wheelchair curling ambassador/national coach with a mandate to kick start provincial programs, most of which have stalled at a minimal number of participants. This win gives the CCA another window of opportunity to capitalise on a gold medal, an opening missed after Torino.

Despite a small athlete pool, and reportedly training on ice frozen in a disused swimming pool, Korea arrived in Vancouver having added draw weight to their legendary hitting. They also brought a new delivery style to the ice. Most wheelchair curlers begin with their shoulders square and end with their throwing shoulder forward, Korea reversed that, crossing their non-throwing arm to the throwing side before delivery, unfolding to end with shoulders square after throwing.

I suspect we are at the early stages of delivery motion analysis. Canada had a top secret delivery optimisation program that has Ina Forrest curling her body and then exploding out of her chair. It looks ugly, but Forrest was the All-Star second.

Sonja Gaudet has learned to use the off-side brace that I've been advocating for several years now, an adaptation of which Team Alberta coach Tony Zummack has added to each of his team's chairs. It increases stability when throwing up-weight. "This will be standard equipment on all chairs in a year or two," Zummack claims.

I watched Sweden play Korea in Draw 2 and they looked frustrated and dispirited. They went on to lose another before switching skip Jalle Jungnell with Glen Ikonen. They then won five of six to make it to a tie-break, including wins over USA and Canada. Then Ikonen was suspended for using a banned blood pressure medication that he had been using openly for years.

Patrik Kallin stepped into 2nd and Jalle moved back to last rocks, and Sweden beat Italy, lost to Canada and won bronze over USA despite their skip averaging just 45% shooting, 8th best on the week. Something went right for them, and it may have been the influence of their new coach, Tomas Nordin.

USA fell just short again but played with a much more cohesive spirit than last year. Skip Perez is maturing. He's ready to admit errors, a vital first step to fixing them, and will only get better as he learns more about calling the game.

I'll admit to being completely wrong about Italy. Not only did they beat Canada to earn a tie-breaker, but had an All-Star at 3rd, and were the only team to shoot over 60%,

I had Great Britain and Norway as two of the teams with the greatest potential for improvement over the past year, although with the caveat for GB that they had, as their coach suggested, mastered the drop-back delivery position.

Great Britain are full time curlers with an experienced international coach. Yet after another 3-6 performance no one has mentioned that perhaps throwing further adds unnecessary difficulty. Coach Pendreigh took the time to explain to me before Vancouver how his approach, though treated with scepticism by everyone else, was the right one.

Mid tournament, Michael McCreadie, who had carried his country’s flag at  the opening ceremonies, was having to defend Aileen Neilson, his 4th rock thrower's performance after she failed to break 40% in three of her first four games. It seemed obvious before and equally obvious now that throwing further makes accuracy more difficult, but with so much time, money and probably reputation tied up in Pendreigh's experiment it may take, if not exile to England, then a change in personnel before a mistake is admitted.

Norway imported coach Christensen from Denmark but though they played Canada tough and beat Korea, two losses on the final day including a give-up loss to a weak Swiss side, ended their tie-break chances. Though their team was not announced until the last minute, it was unchanged. Changes may be in order for them to recapture the form that won back to back Worlds just two years ago.

I placed Germany in the also-rans and take no satisfaction at seeing them one of five teams finishing at 3-6. Everything went their way last year, and a bump back to earth may be what is needed for them to move forward. Switzerland and Japan will meet at the end of the year at the 2011 Worlds qualifying Tournament, and must finish in the top two have a chance to win points towards the next Paralympic Games in Russia 2014.

There were decent crowds at the games, and some coverage on, where you'll find some games in the archive. The CCA, despite publishing a press release promising daily "Insider" insights into Team Canada, offered no coverage other than a link to the Vanoc website. 

There were plenty of statistics if you knew how to extricate them, and the occasional general interest news report, but no interviews, no press releases, no narratives, no context - another opportunity missed to publicise the sport at minimal expense.

A final thought: knowing and liking the Team Canada members I welcome their success. They worked hard and deserve it. I just wish I felt better about the process Canada used to put the team together. If Jim Armstrong's selection did not break the letter of the law it sailed uncomfortably close to the edge of the spirit of the law. For some, and for Own The Podium who waved the large chequebook, it was all about winning, and putting Jim at skip was perceived as the only way that Canada could guarantee a win.

I disagree.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Looking back on the 2010 Canadian National Wheelchair Curling Championship

Ten teams of wheelchair curlers present significant logistical challenges to any venue hosting a Canadian National Wheelchair Curling Championship. Every organising committee works long and hard, fielding friendly and enthusiastic volunteers. This year's co-chairs Gerry Austgarden and Deanna Tuokko had the advantages of proximity of the host hotel to the curling club, the space for 50 plus wheelchairs to manoeuvre inside the club, a schedule that avoided a three draw day, and almost perfect weather.

Experience showed in the results. The top three teams all had ex-Team Canada members throwing fourth stones, and it was probably no co-incidence that the BC teams, Manitoba and Alberta, the teams that reached the play-offs, have the longest record of participation in the Championship, with mostly players experienced in week long competition.

Gary Cormack, skip of the BC Host team had seemed very relaxed during the week, saying he was "quietly confident" he could beat Team BC. "We beat them in the Provincial round robin," he reminded me. It was good to see Vince Miele win his jacket on his on-ice performance, rather than physical proximity to the winning team. He's been around since the earliest days and his perseverance won a just reward.

Gerry Austgarden will feel disappointed to have fallen just short, especially with the upstairs gallery full of family and friends. He had his chances to win but too often had trouble finding draw weight. BC lead Alison Duddy played well at lead after just a year curling. She was coached by Frank Labounty who drove from Prince George to Quesnel throughout the season to assist their wheelchair curlers.

Manitoba's Chris Sobkowicz probably felt, as I did, that this would be his breakthrough year. Last year's Manitoba team appeared to be having no fun, and there was clear tension between team and coach by the end of the week. This year they changed coaches, but were just as dour and unsmiling, a fact that was remarked upon by several teams. Chris even refused to shake the hands with a member of one team that beat them.

It's possible to want to win too much. You lose perspective. Every mistake hurts and there's a slight around every corner. An experienced coach can perhaps help, but only if the team sees it as a problem. Most teams would be delighted with another bronze, but not, I suspect Manitoba. They barely raised a smile all week before claiming three of the four places on the All-Star team. Why then didn't they win the important matches? If it wasn't poor execution, then perhaps they need to look at their game calling.

Alberta lost their page play-off on a last rock hit that rolled an inch too far, just as skip Jack Smart's last rock in the 2009 final. This year Alberta were without third Bruno Yizek. Though Anne Hibberd stepped up, and Martin Purvis won All-Star at second (he was probably the most improved player over last year) it was clear that Jack missed Bruno's presence on the ice.

There was a noticeable gap in ability between the top three teams and the six teams with losing records. For Ontario it was their first nine-draw tournament, and if they can get past what will be tough opposition next year, they will benefit from this year's experience. Moving skip Bruce Cameron to third for the harder throwing Doug Morris seemed a sensible idea though the whole team's statistics suffered as the week wore on.

Nova Scotia proved they can play by being the only team to beat BC Host. They also beat Alberta and lost narrowly to BC and Manitoba. But they also lost to bottom of the table Newfoundland and Quebec.

No one could accuse Saskatchewan of not enjoying themselves, but like Northern Ontario they brought the same players but failed to improve on last year. Quebec had a horrible start that dented skip Ben Lessard's confidence, but they finished by winning their last two games, which made it all the more disappointing that the three male team members chose to leave a day early and did not attend the banquet.

Newfoundland and Labrador brought the same team, only without Chris Daw at skip, with probably predictable results. With three women on the team it should be possible to grow their provincial program, given that the stumbling block for most teams is difficulty attracting female curlers.

Looking forward to next year I hope the CCA reconsider their decision not to support broadcasting the games. Though they had an "official" website, it contained no information outside of scores and statistics and photographs. (Their coverage of the Paralympics was limited to a photograph and a press release announcing coverage that never materialised.)

I know that the CCA's Danny Lamoureux understands the value of publicity, but if wheelchair curlers, their families and supporters want to know what is going on at their national championship, they need to ask the CCA to fund coverage, whoever does it, as they did last year in Halifax. You can reach Danny Lamoureux at

Monday, March 22, 2010

2010 Canadian Nationals - Awards and Trophies

At the Saturday evening banquet for the participants at the 2010 Canadian National Championship in Kelowna, the food was great, the speeches mercifully short, the comedy entertainment bombed but the awards and trophies were well deserved and graciously received.

Awards were presented by CCA representative Jack Bowman, with photos by Dave O'Byrne.

2010 All-Stars
Arlene Ursel (MB lead) Martin Purvis (AB 2nd)
Dennis Thiessen (MB 3rd) and Chris Sobkowicz (MB 4th)

2010 Sportsmanship Award
Chester Draper (N. Ontario)

2010 John McCrae Trophy
Retrieved from N. Ontario by Ontario skip Bruce Cameron

Tournament Co-Chairs Deanna Tuokko and Gerry Austgarden

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The BC Host team crowned National Champions

The BC Host team won the all BC final of the 2010 Canadian National Wheelchair Curling Championships at the Kelowna CC this afternoon.

Gary Cormack (skip), Rich Green (3rd), Vince Miele (2nd) and alternating leads Corinne Jensen and Samantha Sui had the best record in the round robin, with their only loss to Nova Scotia. They also beat BC in the 1 vs 2 game in a testament to the depth of talent among wheelchair curlers in BC.

In the battle of Torino gold medalist 4th rock throwers, Gary Cormack's 63% shooting out-shone BC's Gerry Austgarden, and picked up a team that was outscored at every other position. He also saved them from disaster and a possible early exit in the second when his last rock came through a narrow port for shot with BC were lying 6.

You can read our notes as the play happened, on our blog.

Full results are available on our Nationals page.


We are at the Kelowna Curling Club for Gold Medal Game in the Wheelchair Nationals. We'll be updating this post as the stones are played, so keep refreshing your browser for updates.

BC HOST will have hammer against BC. Both teams have Torino gold medalists throwing 4th stones. In the round robin, BC HOST beat BC 7-1.
Team lineups today:
Team BC
bc(Photo: Dave O’Byrne for CCA)
Lead – Alison Duddy has been curling for one year.  Her home club is the Quesnel Curling Club.

Skip and 2nd stones– Whitney Warren represented BC in the 2004 – 2009 Nationals, earning 3 Gold and 2 Silver medals.  He is a NCCP coach, and the only person to have played in all seven Canadian Wheelchair Curling National Championships.

Third – Frank LaBounty is a Silver medalist in the 2004, 2007, 2008, and 2009 Nationals.  With Warren, he curls out of the Prince George Golf and Curling Club.

4th stones – Gerry Austgarden  throws 4th stones for the team.  He has medaled in the 2004, 2005, and 2006 Nationals representing BC.  He has represented Canada at the World Wheelchair Curling Championships in 2007 and 2008, and won Gold at the 2006 Paralympics in Torino.  He curls out of the Kelowna Curling Club.

The team is coached by Al Moore.


(Photo: Dave O’Byrne for CCA)
Skip – Gary Cormack curled Third in the 2003 and 2004 Nationals, winning a Silver in 2004.  In 2006, he played Second for BC at the Nationals, where they won Gold, and went to the Paralympics in Torino for Team Canada, where he won Gold.  He played in the World Wheelchair Championships in 2007 and 2008, finishing fourth both times.  He curls out of the Cloverdale Curling Club.

Third – Rich Green curls out of the Marpole Curling Club in Vancouver.

Second – Vince Miele represented BC at the 2008 Nationals, where they won Gold.  He curls out of the Marpole Curling Club.

Leads – Corrine Jensen curls out of the Juan De Fuca Curling Club in Victoria.
Samantha Siu won Gold at the 2006 Winter Games.  She curls out of the Richmond Curling Club.

The team is coached by Len Stewart.

The teams were piped in, and the game will get underway in just a few minutes.
BC Host will start with the hammer.

BC got into the house early, sitting three before Vince Miele doubled out two with his second stone.
Frank's attempted draw hits his front stone, pushing it in for shot. 
Rich Green flashed on his first rock. 
Frank flashed on his second.
BC sitting 2, Gerry guarding.  good weight but it didn't curl enough to fully bury shot stone.
Cormack tries to hit and stick on the shot stone in the back, but hits and rolls out.
Austgarden draws into the top 12 behind cover.
Cormack got out a little wide on his attempt to remove an opposition stone in the wings.  He hits on the outside of it.  There's a measure...BC steals one.

Score: BC 1 – HOST 0 after one.

Corrine Jensen throws top four behind her centre line guard. 
Whitney Warren follows her down, tapping the HOST stone out and sitting shot top 8.
Vince Miele crashes on a front stone, blocking up the centre.  HOST needs the centre open.
BC asks for one in the top of the rings, but it comes to the back 8.  BC is lying 2 for now.
Gary asks Vince to peel the centre line guard, and he does.
Frank Labounty freezes to his own stone top 8, and BC is sitting 3.
Green tries to freeze to the shot stone in the back 8, but his rock is through the house.  BC still lies 3.
Labounty throws a stone just into the top 12, guarding shot stone, and BC now lies 4.
Rich Green attempted a draw, and rubbed off a front stone.  He slides into the 8ft to sit shot.
Gerry comes in off a BC stone in front of the house and rolls to the top of the button for shot.  It’s buried.  BC is sitting 3.
There are five red stones in the house, and one yellow HOST stone exposed, sitting third shot.  Looks like Cormack is trying to hit some of the red BC rocks out front to cut them down.
With a two-handed throw, Gary hit a red stone into the house, removing his own yellow.  BC now sit five.
Gerry puts his second rock in the top 12.  BC sits 6.  There are two red stones either side of center line, top 12.  If Cormack hits one of those on the inside, he should bounce forward to cut down the end to maybe two.
But what do we know?  He came through the narrow port to hit and stick on shot stone for one.  That ties it up.
Score: BC 1 – HOST 1 after two ends.

Jensen puts up a tight centre line guard.  BC puts up a long corner.
Jensen’s come around is short.
Duddy is also short, but tight to the rings.  Nobody’s in the house.
Whitney tried to tap up his own, but comes up short.  Six stones in front of the house and none in.
HOST makes contact on the tap attempt but they tap it out the back.  BC tries a tap – tap, and jam on a stone at the back of the house.  BC are sitting shot, biting the back 12.
BC put another stone into the rings and are now sitting two.  Their draw attempt is successful and they now have three of their red stones in the rings, to sit 3.
HOST attempts a draw and redirects off a BC stone in front, jams on a BC stone.  They are shot, full 8, covered.
Frank doubles out two HOST front stones to open up the front.
Cormack tries to clear off second shot stone from the top 12 and roll behind cover.  He just pushed it over and rolled out.  That opens up the front even more.
Gerry tries to clear and does.  Shot stone is on the tee line, full 8 and now exposed.
Cormack wants to draw top 8 to protect his shot stone.  He’s biting the 8, but we can’t tell if that is second shot or not.  He needed to split the rings, but that is on the same side as shot.  There is a double there for four.
Gerry’s hit jams on the stone behind it.  There’s going to be a measure.  He takes one.
Score: BC 2 – HOST 1 after three.

Duddy’s first stone is out the back.  Jensen puts up a centre line guard.   Duddy’s second attempt is short of the house.  Jensen’s come-around attempt is right on the button, and buried.  HOST is lying one.
Whitney Warren tries to follow Jensen down, but he crashes on the centre line guard.
Cormack asks Vince Miele to come through the port and he does, sharing the button with Jensen’s stone.
Whitney removes them both and sticks to count 1 for BC.
Vince comes through the port again to remove the BC stone, and rolls away.  The house is empty.
Frank tries to come into the house and crashes on the guard.  The whole front of the house is now blocked up.  Cormack has to deal with a red BC stone front of the house to take away a chance for them to tap up.  Rich Green slides right through the port without making contact, and out the back.
Frank makes the tap, into the top 12.  Cormack asks for a hit.  Green hits the stone thin and removes it but also rolls out.  The house is empty again.
Gerry’s draw comes through the port to sit for shot top 8 just off centre line.
Cormack uses a two-handed delivery for his takeout attempt, crashes on the guard and rolls out.  BC still counts one.
Gerry tries to come in but slides out the back.
Gary’s hit attempt is wide and out the back.  BC steals 1.
Score: BC 3 – HOST 1 heading to the break.

Duddy comes in, putting it right on the button.
Cormack asks Jensen for a hit. It doesn’t curl at all and just slips by, stopping back 8 for second shot.
Duddy freezes to her rock.  BC lies 2.
Jensen is asked to come down to it, but she is short, just in front of the house.
Whitney’s guard is not over the hogline, and they remove it.
Vince clears the front.
Whitney adds another stone to the pile in the 4 foot.  BC lies three, frozen to each other.
Vince hits, removing one, separating the other two, and stopping in the top 8.  It looks like BC is still lying 2.
Frank Labounty makes a fine shot, clipping the yellow HOST stone, removing it and staying in for BC to lie 3.
Green removes one, pushes another to the back 12 for third shot, and HOST is now second shot in the back 8.
Frank picks that second shot out and sticks.  BC lies three again.
Rich Green’s takeout attempt is a bit wide, pushes a HOST stone under cover, and sails out the back.
Gerry guards.  BC still counting three.
Gary removes one and rolls to bite the 4ft for second shot.
Gerry tries to remove that second shot, skinnies off the inside and rolls out.  No change in the house.
Cormack has an outturn draw into the 4ft to count two.  And it stops just short of perfect.  He takes one.
Score: BC 3 – HOST 2

Jensen puts up a long corner.  Duddy comes  in to the edge of the 4ft.  Jensen makes the hit to sit shot and nudge the BC stone to the back 8.  Duddy taps it back.
Vince picks a HOST stone out and rolls out.
Whitney puts his on the top 12,and it looks like the double is there.
Vince was a little wide on his takeout attempt and sails out the back.
BC calls time out.
Whitney throws a centre line guard.
Rich Green hits it, and pushes it into the house.  Another goes out the back, but the situation in the house remains unchanged.  BC lies three.
Frank puts up another guard.
Rich Green was light on his attempt to come through the port.  He crashed on the front guard and sits in front of the house.  BC still lies 3.
Frank draws in to the top 8.  BC sits 4.
Gary Cormack doubles out the two red stones to lie shot.  Great shot!
Gerry tries to come through the port and hit shot stone.  He crashes on the front stone and rolls out.  Shot stone is now exposed, however.
Gary’s guard attempt overcurled and shot stone is still exposed in the top 4.
Gerry tries to come through the port, but he’s short.
HOST steals one to tie it up at 3 after six ends.

Jensen puts up a centre line guard.  Duddy’s come-around gets to the top 12 but it looks like it’s exposed.  Jensen’s takeout attempt is wide and sails through.  Duddy tries to come around, ticks the centre line guard and ends up in front of the house.
Vince crashes off one guard, crashes off the other and sits in front of the BC stone in the 12 foot.  BC is shot.
Whitney tries to come in and is about 6 feet short of the house.  Vince tries to tap his yellow onto yellow onto red to remove the red BC stone but he flashes.
Whitney will try to draw in.  He is heavy, and out the back.
Rich is asked to tap yellow – yellow – red.  He makes it and sits in the 12ft for shot.
Frank goes after the shot stone on the 12 ft, but it overcurled and he hit it on the outside, pushing shot stone back 12 behind the centre line guard.  HOST lies one.
Rich Green draws to the top 12 to lie two.
Frank removes the centre line guard.  HOST lies 2, both in the open now.
Gary puts up a long guard to guard second shot.
Gerry will try to come through the port and pick out shot stone, top 12.  He ticked it and ticked second shot, rolling the edge of the back 12.  HOST sits 2.  They call time out.
Gary draws through the port to the top 8, partially behind the long guard.
Gerry tries to draw in but comes up twelve feet light.  HOST takes three.
Score: HOST 6 – BC 3 after seven ends.

Here we go to the 8th end:
Jensen puts up a long centre line guard.
Duddy’s come-around is top 8.
Cormack asks Jensen for a hit; she’s through the house.
Duddy’s come-around attempt crashes on the stone out front.  BC still lies one.
Vince’s attempt to peel the guard flashes.  Whitney comes into the top 8.  BC lies 2.  Vince tries to hit and roll.  He removes the red but rolls out himself.  BC is lying one.
Whitney’s attempt to come in is heavy and slips out the back.
Cormack wants Green to peel the guard.  He does, and rolls away.
Frank draws to the top 12,  BC lies two, both in the open.
Green removes one and rolls away.  BC lies one.
BC calls time out.

BC are sitting shot stone biting the 8ft, two feet off centre line.  They have three red stones left, and they have to score three to tie.  So they will draw around their shot stone.
Frank is light, stopping in front of the house.  It’s also in front of shot stone in the top 8/top 12.
Gary removes that red stone in front of the house.  BC lies one.
Gerry is light, stopping in front of the house.
Cormack puts up a front stone, just a foot, not even, off centre.
Gerry has a fancy split to tie the game and force an extra, coming in off the short stone Gary just left for him.
He hit his front stone and punched it through the house.  That leaves BC lying just one, and BC HOST win 6-4.

2010 Wheelchair Curling Canadian Nationals - Semi Final

In the moring semifinal, MB stole one in the first end. BC blanked the second end and took three in the third. MB came back with two in the fourth and stole two in the fifth to go ahead 5-3.

BC took one in the sixth.

In the seventh end there was a long exchange of hits. BC were sitting shot in the back 12 and had a chance to draw into the rings to sit two, but were light. MB hit the shot stone and rolled out for the blank to have hammer coming home, one up.

In th eighth, MB were lying two in the back four with skip stones to come. Austgarden was short on his attempt to draw to that pocket. His second shot appeared to be a tap up which missed, but it might also have been a perfect draw to the side of the four foot to sit shot. Either way, BC ended up lying one, edge of the 4ft. MB attempted to pick the stone out and missed. That sent the game to an extra.

In the 9th end, all four lead stones ended up in front of the house and it looked like the first person in would win. MB got a stone into the top 12 and guarded it when they could have chosen to open the front of the house for skip stones. BC's Frank Labounty threw a wide comearound to sit shot. MB may have regretted not clearing the front earlier.

Gerry Austgarden, with his final stone, crossed the hotline by maybe an inch, attmpting to guard the path to shot stone. MB were faced with a difficult angle raise or a pick through the narrow port to save the game. After a time out, they lined up for the raise, then changed their mind and decided on the pick, but just nicked the hogline guard.

BC stole in eight, stole in nine, and won 6-5. It's an all BC final. BC are guaranteed to continue their run as the only Provincial team to have won a National Championship.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Updates from Nationals and Paralympics

Just back from the Nationals banquet, where Chester Draper of Northern Ontario won the Sportsmanship Trophy, and Arlene Ursel, Dennis Thiessen and Chris Sobkowicz of Manitoba and Martin Purvis of Alberta won places on the All-Star Team. Photographs to follow.

The Nationals and the Paralympics results pages are up-to-date. News and commentary will be added later.

Congratulations to Team Canada who held off a late rally by Korea to win the gold medal at the Paralympics. Final score 8-7.

The Nationals semi-final will begin 9.30 Sunday with the final at 2pm.

2010 Wheelchair Curling Canadian Nationals - Page Playoffs

We're at the Curling Club, getting set up for the Page Playoffs.  It will be BC vs BC HOST on sheet C (AKA Sheet 7) and MB vs AB on Sheet E (AKA Sheet 9).

Both games start at 2PM Pacific.  We'll try to check in at the end of every end, and more often if possible.

BC HOST has yellow rocks and the hammer.  MB has red rocks and the hammer.

Key shots: BC - BC HOST
An exchange of hits on shot stone back of the button included an excellent takeout by Frank Labounty, past a centre line guard.  Gerry Austgarden threw a centre line guard that Gary Cormack attempted to runback.  He made contact with the guard, but missed removing shot stone by less than an inch.

Austgarden threw a second guard and Cormack was unable to reach shot stone.  BC steals one.

Key Shots: MB - AB
AB sat two in the 4ft after MB's lead stones went through the house.  A double takeout by MB's second, George Horning, cleared the AB stones.

AB's Jack Smart threw his second stone top 4, covering his own shot stone back 4.  MB's skip Chris Sobkowicz attempted double takeout jammed on the back stone.  AB steals one.

Second end Key Shots:
In the battle of BC's, BC sitting one full 8ft behind a corner guard.  Gerry Austgarden flashed on his takeout attempt.  Gary Cormack drew down to shot stone to sit second shot.  Gerry, with his last stone hit and stayed to sit shot.  Cormack flashed on his takeout attempt, which would take two.  Instead he gave up a steal of one.

BC 2 - HOST 0

In the other game MB's second George Horning was largely responsible for the empty house, making two lovely takeouts.  AB threw short of the rings.  MB split the AB rock in and rolled into the open giving AB a chance for a hit to sit two.  However a last rock flash by the AB skip gave MB a chance to blank the end.  The hit stayed in the rings, and MB takes one.  Score tied at 1 after two ends.

Key shots - End 3
A perfect hit and stick takeout early on from Vince Miele for BC HOST.  Gary Cormack, switching hands from right to left, missed an open draw into the rings for a 4th point.  HOST take three to lead 3-2.

In the MB - AB game, MB's skip promotes and AB stone and rolls to the wings for second shot.  An exchange of stones left AB a hit on the MB stone on the edge of the 12ft to count three.  Smart's takeout attempt misses by at least a foot.  AB counts one and the score is AB 2 - MB 1 at the end of three.

Key shots end 4:
In the BC vs BC Host, all the play was in the back 12.  Exchange of stones, and then Cormack flashed with his last stone to allow Austgarden a draw to the paint for his second point.

BC 4 - BC HOST 3 as they head to the break.

All the play in the other game was in the 4ft.  MB put three red stones in early, and AB spent the rest of the end moving them out.

Eventually, MB sat two, with four AB stones around the shot stones.  They put up a long guard, and Smart drew around it. He tapped the MB shot stone back and bit the button, but it looked like it was second shot.  MB ticked the guard over, opening the port a little wider.  AB called time out.  The put up a guard.  MB crashes on the guard.  They're going to measure for shot.

It's red.  MB takes one.  That ties the score at 2 as they head for the break.

BC - BC Host have been back for a few minutes.  This time, the play is all in front of the house except for one HOST stone in the back 12.  They put up a guard, effectively sealing off the right side.  Gerry's draw down the left side is short.  Cormack tries to tap a yellow onto red onto yellow, but flashes.  Gerry tries to tap red onto red into the 8ft, but taps his own through.  Cormack tries again.  He taps back, almost too much weight, to the back 12.  HOST takes 2 and the score is HOST 5 - BC 4 after five ends.

AB and MB are still playing the 5th end.

In the battle of the BC's 6th end, BC get another chance to put their final stone anywhere in the house for a second point, and do.  They go ahead 6-5.

AB and MB finish a complicated 5th end with a steal of 1 for MB.  They lead 3-2 after five.

Playing the 6th, Jack Smart, facing four, doubled two MB rocks out.  MB hit to sit three, Smart's last rock hit and rolled.  There's a measurement --- it's yellow.  AB picks up the point to tie it at 3 after six ends.

BC and BC HOST key shots in the 7th:
This end featured a time out by either side.  HOST lies three.  Austgarden's last stone is on the guard.

If Cormack can remove it, he could take four.  He was just a little strong and rolls out.  BC HOST takes 3 and the score is HOST 8 - BC 6.

In the 7th, Jack Smart's first rock is a draw to the side of the 4ft, allowing MB to hit and roll to the button for shot.  AB is heavy, MB's last stone it light. MB takes one and lead 4-3 after 7. AB has the hammer coming home.

In the 8th end of the BC - HOST game, BC sat back 12 for most of the game while hits were exchanged in the front of the house.  When BC missed, HOST had an opportunity to take out the shot stone.  They missed and BC had a chance to sit two, but came up light.

BC HOST did not miss with their final stone, sitting one.  BC attempted to split their stone in front of the house for a tie,but were wide.  BC HOST steals one to win, 9-6.

HOST goes through to tomorrow's final, and BC will play the winner of AB - MB, which is in the 8th now.

In the last end of the MB - AB all the play is in the back of the house.  MB sits shot, but AB have a chance to double to sit 4.

They are a little heavy, pushing back a stone to have MB lie 1 with AB stones on either side.

AB is second shot in a crowded house.  Anne Hibbard ticks off the long centre line guard, but there's a port there now.

Chris puts up a guard.  Jack tries to come by it, and promotes a red stone.  MB lies 2, and there are rocks all over everywhere.  MB calls time out.

MB comes into the back 4.  Jack has to outdraw him to score 1 and send it to an extra.

His line is great, he hits the shot stone and rolls two inches too far.  Just a little too much weight.

MB steals 1, the final score is 5-3.  BC will play MB in the semifinal at 9:30 tomorrow morning.  The winner there will play BC HOST in tomorrow afternoon's final.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Swedish 4th rock thrower thrown out of Paralympics

Glenn Ikonen at 2009 Worlds - photo Yadranka
Glenn Ikonen, who began the Paralympics throwing third stones for Sweden before changing places with his skip Jalle Jungnell after Sweden's 0-3 start, has been banned for two years for failing a drug test. Though the ban is subject to appeal, he has been withdrawn for the remainder of the competition.

As reported in the Vancouver Sun, the news came just hours before the Swedish team was due to take on Italy in a tie-break to decide who faces Canada in Saturday's semi-final.

Alternate Patrik Kallin threw second, with Jungnell returning to 4th stones. Despite the off-ice drama, Sweden beat Italy 6-5, stealing 2 in the final end. With Sweden sitting shot on the 4 foot and second shot back 12, Italy's skip Tabanell chose a takeout for the win rather than a draw to the 12 for a tie, and crashed on a front stone.

“Of course we were totally shocked and sorry for Glenn who played so well for us in the round robin,” said Jungnell “He felt he had done everything right about the medication. But Patrik [who shot 75 per cent] came in and did a good job for us. He plays for us in our normal club games back home. We knew he was a good player.”

Canada vs Sweden and USA vs Korea take place 10am Saturday, with the medal games beginning at 3.30pm

Lyndon Little has an interesting review of the day's events and a look forward to tomorrow HERE.

For tables and schedule see our Paralympics page.

Canadian Nationals - Final Round Robin Draw

On the final round robin day at t he Canadian Nationals in Kelowna BC it could have been a host committe nightmare 5-way tie for the fourth playoff spot, but at the end of the day only Alberta posted the necessary two wins to join BC Host, BC and Manitoba.

BC Host and Manitoba fought a war of attrition in the last draw, with singles all the way to the eighth end when suddenly the Host team were sitting 4 and Manitoba had to draw to the four foot to save the game. Chris Sobkowicz's draw was a little light and BC Host stole two for a 5-4 win. We watched  the game and there are a few notes at the end of this post.

BC Host (8-1) will play BC (7-2) in the Page playoff 1 vs 2 game tomorrow, the winner going straight through to Sunday's 2PM final. The loser will play the 9.30AM Sunday semi-final against the winner of the 3 s 4 game, Manitoba (6-3) vs. Alberta (5-4).

Page playoff games start at 2pm Saturday.

For full scores and table go to our Nationals page.

(Here are the notes we posted as we watched the afternoon action.)

Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Alberta can guarantee themselves at a tiebreak with a win this afternoon.  Ontario and Northern Ontario need those three teams to lose to force multiple tiebreaks.  We'll update here as the games progress.

BC HOST is guaranteed a spot in the 1-2 Page Playoff game.  They are playing Manitoba today.  If MB beats HOST, they will play each other again in the 1-2 game.

We're watching MB - HOST.  MB took 1 in the first when HOST skip Gary Cormack wisely settled on a guard rather than challenge MB's shot stone on the button.  MB had a narrow port for an inturn draw to the 4ft, but came up just light and settled for 1.  MB 1 - HOST 0 after one.

In the QC NS game, QC had the hammer.  With skip stones, QC was sitting one, open in the 4ft, but NS skip Mike Fitzgerald missed two takeouts.  QC were unable to capitalize when their draw for a second point came up short.  QC 1 - NS 0 after one. 

In other games, in a must-win for ON, they stole two against SK in the first end.  NO, with the hammer, took their two, against BC.  AB blanked the first against NL.

In the second end, BC HOST were in all sorts of trouble when a series of attempted come-arounds instead guarded MB's shot stone.  Skip Cormack with his first stone promoted a MB stone into the house and removed his own second shot, leaving MB sitting four.

MB guarded and Cormack, in a testament to clean living, hit a triple runback that ended with a BC stone on the button.  "That was horseshit," said the MB coach, as the crowd cheered.  BC HOST save the end, taking 1.  The score is tied at 1 after two ends.

QC stole 4 against NS to lead 5-0 after two.  AB lead NL 1 - 0 after two ends. ON leads SK 4-0 after a measure.   BC and NO are tied at 2 after two.

In the third end, MB was sitting one behind a pile of front stones.  With BC's last rock, Gary Cormack was tight on the guard and crashed, leaving MB the opportunity to draw down for a second point.  The MB stone took a perfect line but was heavy, tapping shot stone out of the rings.  MB takes 1.  MB 2 - BC HOST 1 after three.

NO are 3-2 up over BC after 3.  NS is on the board with a 3 against QC, who lead 5-3.  ON lead SK 4-1 after three, and it looks like AB and NL are tied at one after three.

In the 4th end Gary Cormack's attempted takeout of MB's second shot stone is on target but doesn't push MB's stone far enough for HOST to count 2.  HOST takes 1, and the score is 2-2 going to the break.

At the break it's BC 5 - NO 3. AB lead NL 4-1.  NS stole 2 in the 4th to tie QC 5-5.  ON lead SK 5-1.

In the 5th end, MB took one with a hit and stick, and lead BC HOST 3-2.

BC stole one in the 5th to increase their lead over NO 6-3.  QC scored three to lead NS 8-5 after five ends.  QC chose to hit 3rd rock stone at the edge of the 12 ft instead of drawing into the rings and took another year off their coach's life.

ON lead SK 7-1.  AB lead NL 4-1 after five ends.  As it stands at the moment with NS and SK both losing, AB are looking good for the fourth playoff place.

In the sixth end, Rich Green who has come up light on his draw attempts in the last couple of ends, made a terrific shot to double two MB stones out and stick.

MB's skip hit the BC stone but rolled out.  Cormack for HOST hit the shot stone and rolled to the pin, completely buried to leave HOST lying one with a single centre line guard up front.  Sobkowitz played a heavy draw to push HOST's shot stone back and sit for shot.  He's in the open, though, leaving Cormack an open hit for two, if he can stick.

Cormack's attempted hit overcurls to hit the centre line guard, running it back onto his own stone.  There's a measure and the Manitoba coach is unhappy thay HOST may have fluked another shot... and it's a steal of 1 for MB.  That gives them a 4-2 lead after six.

Meanwhile, NO took 1 in the sixth but trail BC 6-4.  AB leads NL 4-2 after NL took one in the sixth. QC stole one to go up 9-5 over NS in the sixth.  SK took one, but still trials ON 7-2 after six.

In the seventh end, NO shook hands.  Final score BC 9 - NO 4.  AB over NL 4-2 after six.  ON leads SK 7-5 after seven.  SK stole 3.

In our game. Cormack make a clutch shot to hit and stick for one.  MB still leads, 4-3, and they have the hammer coming home.

NS took one but still trails QC 9-6.  QC will have the hammer coming home.

8th end - MB have a draw to the 4ft facing 3.  Chris Sobkowicz shot comes up light.  BC steals 2 and wins 5-4.

QC, facing 3 with their last stone removed one for a 9-8 victory over NS.  Ontario beat SK 9-5. AB beat NL 6-2 in seven.

Nationals Day 5 - Last playoff spot still open

BC, BC HOST and Manitoba have qualified for Saturday's Page Playoffs at the 2010 Canadian Wheelchair Curling Nationals in Kelowna, BC.

In the battle of the top teams, BC HOST beat BC 7-1, stealing their way to a 6-0 lead after four. Manitoba dispatched Newfoundland and Labrador 12-0 and still have a chance to make the 1-2 Page Playoff game.

All the teams that entered the day with a chance to make the playoffs are still alive. Saskatchewan missed an opportunity to post a fifth win when they fell to Quebec 11-2. When we asked Quebec coach Al Whittier what he'd fed his team for breakfast, he said, "Good Quebec poutine."

Alberta beat Ontario 10-2 and Nova Scotia beat Northern Ontario 10-3. Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, with a win this afternoon, are guaranteed at least a tie-breaker. Ontario and Northern Ontario need all three of those teams to lose to have a four- or five-way tie-breaker.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tie-break to decide who plays Canada in semi

Italy played themselves into a tie-break with a spectacular last shot 8-7 win over Canada in the final round robin draw. In a replay of yesterday's game against Korea, Canada had shot stone on the button, and Jim Armstrong's attempt at a guard slightly over-curled. But while the Korean skip over-threw his take-out sending the stone wide, Italian skip Tabanelli threw a controlled weight hit and stick to score the winning point.

"I didn't think it was makeable," Armstrong said. "But those rocks are so lively. I wouldn't give him any chance to make it quite honestly. But it was a great shot."

The result didn't change Canada's position as they were already guaranteed first place. They will play either Italy or Sweden, the only two teams to have beaten Canada this week.

Ina Forrest, who led all seconds during round robin, sat out to give her sore shoulder a rest and Alberta's Bruno Yizek had an opportunity to play.

Italy earned a tie-break game against a resurgent Sweden, who saw off Germany 10-3. Jens Jager sat out to give his alternate a game. Marcus Sieger skipped.

Great Britain finished on a win, 10-4 over Japan, with Michael McCreadie sitting in favour of alternate Jim Sellar. It's been a very disappointing tournament for the all Scottish rink, and hopefully Michael will not have ended his curling career on the bench.

The line-up change meant that Aileen Neilson became the first female to skip at the Winter Games. "It was good to come out and finish with a win,'' Neilson said, praising her teammates for setting up the ends for her.

Switzerland lifted themselves from the foot of the table with a win over Norway 10-4.

The tie-break game is at 2pm Friday, with the semi-finals on Saturday at 10am and the medal games at 3.30pm.

For tables and schedule see our Paralympics page.

Canadian Nationals - Draw 7

Saskatchewan beat Chris Sobkowicz's Manitoba despite being 5-0 down at the break. Single steals in the 6th and 7th and a steal of 2 in the 8th brought a mighty cheer from the Saskatchewan supporters glued to the upstairs lounge window. Saskatchewan 2nd Marie Wright shot a game best 58% to her province in the fourth playoff spot. With two draws to go tomorrow, when they will play Quebec and Ontario, they are looking good to at least claim a tie-break.

Leaders BC were completely befuddled by inconsistent Alberta who stole a 6-0 lead after 5 ends. They almost let BC back into the game in the 5th when with BC sitting one behind a pile of front stones, Albeta skip opted to hit the BC shot stone rather than give up the one with a guard. His shot promoted a second BC stone, Gerry Austgarden pushed another into the rings through the opened port and with BC sitting 3 and a stone to come, Alberta were looking ruin in the face.

But Smart's last rock draw was just wide and heavy enough to wick off a stone at the edge of the 12 and roll to the button for shot, and another steal.

Ontario, flush from their morning trophy victory, took 5 in the opening end and spent the rest of the game giving it back, losing 9-7.

N. Ontario gave Quebec an early 3 point lead then posted a four and a couple of steals in an 8-6 win. BC Host went off to a 5 point lead against Newfoundland and Labrador, and won 6-4.

The two BC teams are guaranteed a playoff spot, with Manitoba needing to win just one of their games to join them. Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec are the only teams mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

For full scores and table go to our Nationals page.

Cameron wins John McCrae Trophy in battle of Ontarios

A Canadian National Championship is a fine thing, but pride was at stake when Northern Ontario played Ontario, or Southern Ontario as the Ficek rink called them, for the John McCrae Trophy. This year 0ttawan Bruce Cameron's team repossessed it, winning 7-5 on the strength of a 4 spot just before the break.

BC continued their unbeaten cruise to the playoffs, 10-2 over slumping Newfoundland and Labrador. Alberta continued to disappoint their traveling fans, losing to a very serious and self-possessed Manitoba side 7-5.

Saskatchewan scored the last 9 points of the game, overcoming a 7-1 deficit to beat Nove Scotia 10-7, and BC Host, despite swapping 4 in the opening end, ran out easy winners over Quebec, 12-5.

For full scores and table go to our Nationals page.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Canada and USA qualify for Paralympics playoffs

In a game that would decide who stood at the top of the table with one day of round robin play to go, Canada (7-1) beat Korea (5-3) by a somewhat flattering score of 6-4.
Canada's steal of one in the second, when a Korean attempted pick buried a Canadian stone on the button, was the difference until the final end. Canada had shot stone buried behind seven stones. Korea called time out. Their options were a fancy double run back, or throw a bomb onto the pile and see what happened.

Korea have the reputation for throwing big weight though they have succeeded by drawing when they had to. This time they chose the big weight option. and they managed to open a port to shot stone.

Jim Armstrong attempted to block it but his draw over-curled. A straight hit and stick by Korea would have left Canada with a tricky shot to save the game. But skip Haksung Kim, revved from his previous shot, over-threw when what was needed was a controlled weight take-out. The shot sailed wide and Canada could smile for the first time in the evening.

USA (6-2) lost a rock on a measurement in the second against Japan, but still posted a six and won 8-2. Italy ruined Norway's hopes of a playoff spot, despite throwing away a 7-2 lead in the eighth. They took 2 in the extra to win 9-7.

Korea, Sweden, Germany and Italy will play for the remaining playoff spots tomorrow. For tables and schedule see our Paralympics page.

Draw 5 Nationals - Team Canada alumni leading the way

The teams with Team Canada players throwing last rocks remain at the top of the table as we pass half-way of the Canadian National Championships in Kelowna BC.

Quebec had a chance to upset unbeaten BC. They went into the 4th end break 2-1 ahead and in the 6th were lying 4 with skip stones to come. BC coach Al Moore, husband of TV curling pundit Linda Moore, was waving frantically at the upstairs window signalling for his team to call a time-out (rules state that time-outs can only be called on the ice). Gerry Austgarden's attempted draw was short of the front guards.

Quebec skip Ben Lessard attempted to throw a guard but hogged his stone, and Austgarden made no mistake with his final stone, coming into the rings for shot. Lessard attempted to hit it, but threw wide, giving up a steal and a lead that BC never surrendered. Final score 5-2, with BC stealing singles in each of the last 4 ends.

Alberta struggled for most of their match against the tournament's tough luck side, Nova Scotia. Jack Smart showed his lack of confidence in his draw weight when in the 4th he attempted a tap with half the house open. "It was a good choice, it was lined up," coach Tony Zummack said, though it resulted in a Nova Scotia steal.

Nova Scotia had taken one in the first and then stole the next four ends to go ahead 6-0. Alberta took their 4 points in the 6th when Smart played a tricky hit to promote 3 stones into scoring position. It was Alberta's one success as they came up on the short end of a 6-4 scoreline.

When Saskatchewan win they win big, 11-3 over Newfoundland and Labrador who have come back to earth with a bump after opening the competition with a 13-3 win.

BC Host relied on a 4 in the sixth to counter a series of singles by Ontario. Their 6-5 win keeps them tied with Manitoba, who beat N. Ontario 8-5, a game back of BC.

For full scores and table go to our Nationals page

Canadian Nationals Draw 4 - BC keep rolling; Quebec get first win

BC are showing the depth of their curling talent, posting their fourth win without their skip and lead from the two previous years. Mind you they do have Torino gold medalist Gerry Austgarden throwing last rocks and adding his experience to the game calling.

This morning they beat Nova Scotia 7-5 on the strength of a 4 in the 3rd. Nova Scotia pulled to within one with a steal of two in the 7th but could not repeat as BC took their single, and the game, in the final end.

Nova Scotia, after a first round walloping by Newfoundland and Labrador, have played tough, with a win over Gary Cormack's BC Host side, and narrow losses to BC and Manitoba, both very experienced sides.

Quebec were blown out in their first two games, but took Alberta to an extra end in Game 3 and this morning went one better. 5-4 over Newfoundland. A three in the 3rd helped in a game of singles.

BC Host beat Sakatchewan 9-5 and share second spot in the table with Manitoba, who stole 5 in the 2nd against Ontario and won 10-3.

N. Ontario beat Alberta 8-4, two steals of two making the difference.

For full scores and table go to our Nationals page

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day 2 - Canadian Nationals Draw 3

Ontario (2-1) stole the first 4 points to go ahead of Newfoundland and Labrador (1-2) 5-3 at the break. Whatever it was they ate, it came back to bite Newfoundland as Ontario scored another 9 points for a 14-5 win.

BC (3-0) continued their unbeaten record. They stole 2 in the 4th to go ahead of Saskatchewan (1-2) 4-2 and gave up just a couple of singles in the second half while scoring 3 and winning 7-3.

BC Host (2-1) stole two in the 5th and another in the 6th to beat N. Ontario (1-2) 6-4. Third Mark Wherrett was the only N. Ontarian with better than 50% shooting, but he was bested by opposing 3rd Rich Green who shot 59% for the host team.

Quebec (0-3) finally found the rings and took an early 5-1 lead over Alberta (2-1) but gave back 5 in steals in the second half. They scored 3 to tie Alberta in the 8th but in the extra end without the hammer, conceded a single and lost 9-8.

Manitoba (2-1) with steals of two in ends 2 and 3 opened an early 5-0 lead over Nova Scotia (1-2) but a steal of 3 in the 5th brought the bluenosers level. They couldn't hang on though, dropping a 7-6 decision.

For line scores check our National Championship page.

Canada back on top with 15-1 win over Switzerland

Canada (5-1) weren't affected by less than 50% shooting from their skip as the rest of the team shot better than 70% in the 15-1 dismantling of Switzerland (2-3). A 5 just before the break started the rout and a 6 in the 6th ended it early.

Norway (3-3) beat Japan (1-4) 11-3 and Germany (3-2) stole a single in the 8th to edge Italy (2-3) 7-6.

In the evening draw USA (4-2) blew a chance to at least tie their game against Sweden in the eighth. Sitting one with skip stones to come, they chose to chase the Swedish 2nd shot stone that was on the edge of the 12, rather than coming anywhere full 12 to sit two. The stone flashed and Sweden hit shot stone to run USA out of rocks.

"It was a strategy mistake. The right call was the draw. I know that now and hopefully won't make that mistake again," USA skip Perez said. And despite the error, the win wasn't guaranteed at that point.

Sweden (3-3) have won three in a row; beating Norway, Canada and USA to work themselves very much back into contention. Promoting Glenn Ikonen to 4th stones appears to have worked, as skip Jalle Jungnell continues to struggle, but no longer with last rocks.

Great Britain (2-4) avoided a 5th defeat, beating Germany (3-3) 9-2 and can still say they have a chance at a playoff spot. Korea (4-2) pulled level with USA and one game behind leaders Canada (5-1) beating Italy (2-4) 9-3, and Japan (2-4) edged Switzerland (2-4) 6-5 in an extra end.

With three matches to play in the round robin, every team still has a chance of making the playoffs.

Day 2 - Canadian Nationals - Draw 2

Defending champions BC had all they could handle in their morning draw against the rookies from Ontario. There are some notes from the game at the end of this post, but the decisive play was with skip stones in the 8th end.

Ontario had hammer down one, and were sitting at least 3 with no obvious way into the house for BC. After a timeout, BC decided on a long run back, which though didn't threaten shot stones, did open a narrow port.

Ontario attempted to block it with a guard that was overcurled enough to widen the port, and Gerry Austgarden threw an upweight hit on shot stone back 4. He had to stick and he did. Bruce Cameron attempted to follow him down to at least force an extra end, but was light and BC won 8-6.

Though his overall statistics were not impressive, Austgarden made key shots and saved the game. For Ontario, Doug Morris at 3rd threw an impressive 69% to set up his skip, but it came down to a single tough but makeable last rock that didn't reach its target.

BC are the only team to have won both their matches, while Quebec are still looking for their first win after being blanked by Manitoba 9-0.

In other games Nova Scotia beat BC Host 8-6, Alberta downed Saskatchewan 8-4 and N. Ontario brought Newfoundland and Labrador back to earth with a 10-1 win.

Draw two of the Canadian National Championships begins at 9.30. We'll be keeping an eye on the BC vs Ontario game, and updating scores of the other games as well. N. Ontario plays Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba plays Quebec, BC Host plays Nova Scotia, and Alberta plays Saskatchewan.

End 1

Ontario had the hammer and the first 4 stones went to the back of the rings.  Seconds missed all their shots.  BC then threw up a guard.  Ontario made a comearound.  BC came around on top of it.  Ontario chipped shot stone to sit 2.

BC's first skip stone crashed on the guard.  Bruce's first skip stone tapped his shot stone to the back 4.  Gerry hit shot stone but rolled away.  BC sat 1.  Bruce drew to the 4 ft for his 2nd point.

BC 0 - ON 2

2nd end

BC sat 4 after seconds' stones with a succession of taps and rolls leaving a ring of biters to the left side of the sheet.

Bruce's final stone had to be shot to avoid giving up 4.  It stopped back 12 for 2nd shot.  Gerry with his final shot attempted to tap Bruce's stone out but was tight on the guard and rolled to the 4ft.  On a measure, BC scored 2 to tie it.

Other games - NO 4 - NL 0 after 2 ends.  AB are 3-1 up over SK after 2, and MB lead QC 4-0, and NS lead BC HOST 2-0 after 2.

End 3

Ontario's second is legally blind and uses a bright light on the broom.

ON is shot stone on the back centre line.  They call for a guard at the top of the house but it slid back 4.  Frank tried a double takeout, but chipped out just one, and ON is still shot back 4.

Gerry thew a 9.1 second take out through the port to hit and stick. BC lying 1, back 4.

Bruce tries to come through the same port, but nicks a guard and promotes a BC stone to second shot.  It looks like BC is lying 2.

Gerry's second stone is through the port but a bit heavy and comes to the back 4, giving Ontario a pocket to save the end.

Bruce is also a bit light. The stone overcurled at the end, and BC steals 2 by an inch.  It's 4-2 BC at the end of 3rd.

4th end
BC comes in to the button with their first.  Ontario executes an angle freeze.  BC's second stone is back 12.  Ontario taps BC to the back of the button to sit 2.

BC tried to take out the shot stone, but it looks wide of the broom. They remove their own and the shooter rolls to the back 12.

Ontario sit three now in the 4 ft, and there are no guards. Whitney removes one stone and rolls to the 8ft in front of the tee line for 3rd shot.

ON needs something up front to protect their stone --- they throw a long centre line guard.  Frank attempts to pick out shot stone and flashes.

Ontario puts up a long corner guard.  There's still a port there.

What a shot. Frank comes through the port, taps the shot stone out and rolls to the button for shot, behind the ON stone.

Bruce's comearound attempt crashes on the guard, but that does clear the front.

Gerry's guard attempt curls too much, leaving Bruce a chance to hit his own second shot and push BC out the back. But...his attempt curled fiercely at the end, and he pushes his own stone out.  Gerry has an open hit to sit 3.

He's short, in front of the house, guarding his own.  That leaves Bruce the same shot for 2.  He gets 1.

BC 4 - ON 3, and BC gets the hammer after the break.

In other games NO 4 - NL - after 3; AB 5 - SK 1 after 3; MB over QC 5-0; NS 4 - HOST 0.

5th end

All of the first five rocks are in front of the house.  BC tried to open up the front, but crash on the guard and roll across the rings.  That might be biting top 12.

BC are trying to peel the ON stone on the centre line but the stone crashes on another guard and rolls out.

ON try to tap the one in the top 12, but it slides past and stops back 12. ON lies one for sure, and maybe 2 if that really is a biter in front.

Frank tries to eliminate the front stone, and goes by it.  He just misses the one in the back and slides out.

Ontario tries to come through the port, but they're short and push that possible biter up an inch so it's counting for sure.  There is a wall of Ontario stones in front.

BC peel the centre line guard, but stick, almost replacing it.

ON has a pile of rocks on the right side of the house (as we look atit) and Bruce tries to draw in on the open (left) side.  The line is good but he's heavy.  He's either out the back or that's another biter.

BC comes around and ends up back 4 but wide open.  ON could tap it back, or remove it.  But the rock slips out the back.

Gerry draws to the button for the second point.

BC6 - ON 3

End 6

Ontario came into the house, t-line.  BC tapped it out. ON froze to the BC stone in the top 12. BC split the house with another stone top 8.

Ontario plays a tap back on the one in the 8 ft.  They move it to the edge and roll in to the button.  ON is shot.

BC removes that.  They are lying one for sure, and it's close for 2nd stone.  They may be one and two.

Ontario puts one in the top 8 for shot, but it's wide open.

BC flashes on the take out attempt.

Ontario brings another one in.  BC remove their own stone. Ontario is lying 3.

Bruce asks for the shot stone to be tapped back.  The attempt is short, leaving a centre line guard now.

BC tries again to remove the troublesome ON stone, and instead removes their own.  ON now lying 2.  Bruce tries to come into the house and end up behind the centre line guard.  The line looked right but he slipped out the back.

BC tries to tap his own back, but removes it and rolls away.  ON is lying 2.  This is a draw for 3.  Right on the pin. ON takes 3 and the score is tied at 6.


NO 8 - NL 1 after 5

AB 7 - SK 2 after 5

MB 8 - QC 0 after 5

NS 6 - BC HOST 3 after 5

End 7

Ontario sitting 2 on the tee line and attempt to guard with their last stone.  The guard overcurls, and Gerry throws an upweight shot that hits and sticks for one.

BC7 - ON6.  Ontario is down one with the hammer coming home.

Other scores
AB 8 - SK 2 after 6
NS 7 - HOST 3 after 6
MB beat QC, it's at least 10 - 6, we're waiting for it to be posted.
NO defeated NL 10 -1

End 8

At skip stones ON are sitting 3 behind 3 guards.  BC have no obvious way in and have called a time out.  Their options are a long runback or a deflection off a wide Ontario stone in the 12 ft.

It looks like they're going to runback the guard or at least clear the guard off so they have a shot with their last stone.  And that's what they do, the shot opens up a small port.

Bruce will try to close that off --- he has to score 2.  He was a little too heavy, wicks off the guard and opens the port a little more.

BC has a shot through that port.  Gerry's shot it perfect, removing the ON shot stone and sticking.  Bruce has the same shot for 3.

He's short, and BC wins.

USA tied at top of table as Canada crash to Sweden

It too an extra end after USA surrendered 3 in the 8th against Great Britain (1-4), but USA (4-1) pulled out an 8-7 win to tie Canada at the top of te table at the end of Day 3 at the Paralympic Games.

Canada (4-1) surrendered their unbeaten record in an 8-4 loss to Sweden. Read match report HERE. Norway stopped Korea's momentum, winning 9-6 and Germany lost to Switzerland 9-3.

Michael McCreadie said after the team's 4th loss (to USA) "It can be a cruel game at times. Although we are losing the team dynamics remain strong. Aileen is an excellent last rock thrower. There's such a small margin between winning and losing, but we are still thinking playoffs if we can win the rest of the way. The ice was very swingy today, but we just have to adapt to the conditions."
 Michael McCreadie
Read article on McCreadie by Lyndon Little HERE

Heavy ice was also on Swedish skip Jalle Jungnell;s mind,though he pulled off wins over two favoured sides today (Norway and Canada). "We tried to play our normal game, "he said, "but we've been struggling with the ice. It's so heavy."

That was a sentiment echoed by Norwegian skip Rune Lorentsen. “It’s tricky ice. I don’t know the feel of the rocks. We do the same things as other teams but our rocks don’t behave the same. It makes us a little unsure. [Against Sweden] we always play crappy matches. No good play and we were very nervous.”

Table leaders Canada and USA each play a single game tomorrow; Canada against Switzerland in the morning and USA against Sweden in the evening.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Day 1 - Nationals - BC and Manitoba play an extra end

[photo - Dave O'Byrne]

Defending champions BC defeated Manitoba 7-6 in the opening game of the Canadian National Championships in Kelowna. We posted some notes on the blog [see below] as we watched the game. The ice grew steadily heavier until it was taking 11 second hog to hog to come just short of the rings.

The extra end saw an empty house as every stone fell short until Austgarden managed to get the last rock of the game through the pile and get it to stop just touching the rings back 12 to score the winning point.

The BC Host team skipped by Gary Cormack swapped singles with Alberta until a steal in ends 7 and 8 saw them pull ahead 6-3.

Saskatchewan landed a 5 on N. Ontario in the 6th en route to a 10-5 win. Newfoundland took 5 in the 1st against Nova Scotia and never looked back, winning 13-3, the same score Ontario, the one totally rookie squad posted against Quebec.


End 9

Manitoba put up two front stones.  The BC lead was through the house. MB came around to the back of the 4ft. Takeouts ensued.

MB's takeout also rolled out.  Warren's first stone is in front of the house, in a cluster with the two red stones.

Thiessen's comearound is short, landing in front of the house.  Three red and a yellow around centre line just in front of the empty house.

LaBounty is even with the other yellow stone just in front of the house.  Still nothing in there.

Thiessen's attempt is out front.  LaBounty runs his own back but it's too strong and out the back.

Everybody else is short except for BC's last rock - biting the back.  BC wins 7-6.

Goodnight all.

End 8

MB takes 1 to tie the score at 6, and they're headed to an extra end.

End 7

BC steals one to pull ahead 6-5.

Handshakes on Sheet C: NL 9 - NS 2.

SK leads NO 10-3 --- handshakes.

AB trails HOST 4-3 after 7.

QC is finally on the board, trailing ON 9-2.

End 6

All the play was in the 4ft.  MB doubled out two BC stones when BC was sitting 3.  BC failed to hit and stick for their second point, taking 1 to tie it up 5-5 after 6.

In other news, Canada suffered their first loss tonight to bottom of the table Sweden, 8-4, while USA, despite giving up 3 in the 8th, scored one in the extra to hand GB their 4th loss.  Final score USA 8 - GB 7.

Back here, SK now lead NO 9-3 after taking 2 in the 6th.  ON are 9-1 up over QC through 6 ends.  BC HOST and AB are tied up 3-3 after 6.  NS and NL are still playing the 6th end.

End 5

After the break, it took until the 3rds' last stone before a rock made it into the rings, as the ice has tightened significantly.

BC attempt a double with their last stone. They get 1, but leave one MB stone buried on the button.  MB attempted a wide comearound to touch the 8 ft for a second point.  They make it.

MB take 2 and go ahead 5-4 after 5.

End 4

BC has one on the pin, buried. MB is sitting second shot, protected. Rather than guard and hold BC to 1, MB attempted a takeout and picked their own stone out. BC is lying 2.

MB's last stone came up short of the button. BC got greedy with their last stone, attempted to put a 3rd stone in the rings, and picked their own stone out. They score 1 instead of 2.

BC 4 - MB 3 after 4.

In other games, NO has pulled ahead of SK, 3-2 after 4 ends. ON now lead QC 7-0 after 4 ends. AB and HOST are tied at 2 after 4. NS and NL are just starting the 4th end, with NL 6-2.

End 3

First few rocks all came up short of the rings. MB, without hammer, took a chance by clearing one side of the house. BC failed to capitalize by coming in.

MB did come in to sit one, in the 4 ft. BC were not able to remove it. Steal of 1 for MB.

Tied up at 3 after 3 ends.

Other scores:

NO came through 11 rocks in front of the house to score 1 against SK. SK 2 - NO 1 after 3. ON is up 6 - 0 over QC after 3. We don't know the other scores yet.

End 2:

BC came into the 4ft, guarded.

MB peeled the guard and then a BC guard attempt came too deep, allowing access to the shot stones in the 4ft.

MB cleared the shot stones and ended up taking 2.

BC 3 - MB 2 after 2 ends.

SK 2 - NO 0 after 2

ON 4 - QC 0 after 2

BC HOST 1 - AB 1 after 2 ends

BC has the hammer.

Lead stones ended up short of the rings blocking the center. BC drew to the button. MB's draw attempts were heavy.

BC got a second stone in the 8 foot and guarded. Gerry Austgarden's last rock drew into the 8ft for a third point.

BC 3 - MB 0.

SK took one over NO.

ON took 1 playing QC.

BC HOST 1 - AB 0

NL 5 - NS 0

Good evening from the Kelowna Curling Club where we're sitting above Sheet D and waiting for the start of the defending champions opening match. We'll be updating this post during the game.

Canada cruise, Norway give another big end, Sweden finally win - Draw 5 Paralympics

Canada (4-0) cruised to a 13-2 win over Japan (1-3), a 5 in the 7th bringing the game to an early finish.

Sweden (1-3) finally found a way to win, beating Norway (1-3) with 4 in the 6th of a game otherwise limited to singles. This is Norway's second loss of a game they looked like winning before giving up a big end.

USA (3-1) kept the momentum going, beating Italy (2-2) 8-2 while Great Britain (1-3) suffered another loss, this time to Korea (3-1) on very low shooting by their back end. Korea took the game's first 7 points.

Table and line scores HERE

BC vs Manitoba marquee matchup on Day 1 of Canadian Nationals

BC, the only provincial team to have won a Canadian National title, will open their defense against last year's bronze medalists Manitoba in the opening draw, 7.30 PM at the Kelowna CC.

Last year's BC skip, Jim Armstrong, is playing for his country in Vancouver so Torino gold medalist Gerry Austgarden will be throwing last rocks for the BC provincial champions. Frank LaBounty throws third with skip Whitney Warren at second and rookie Alison Duddy replacing Jackie Roy at lead. Austgarden is holding the broom the first two ends with Warren holding for 3rd and 4th stones.

"Everyone knows what they're doing, what their role is," LaBounty assured me at the players' reception last night.

Manitoba will be looking for the breakthrough that get's them into a final game. They have Chris Sobkowicz at skip, who made Team Canada at last year's Worlds at the expense of Austgarden and BC Host skip Gary Cormack. George Horning comes in at second replacing Michael Alberg.

Other machups: BC Host vs Alberta, Quebec vs Ontario, Newfoundland vs Nova Scotia, and N. Ontario vs Saskatchewan.

Tonight draw begins at 7.30 after the opening ceremonies. There will be two draws a day tomorrow through Friday at 9.30 and 2 pm.

Student reporter tells Team Canada stories

Lisa Odland, a Students Live reporter, has posted the back stories of the Team Canada members on her West Coast Kid blog, including a short video interview with Sonja Gaudet. Read and watch it HERE.

Inside the head of Team USA skip Goose Perez

 Augusto 'Goose' Perez and Patrick McDonald
[photo - Richard Lam]
Last season the rap on the American skip was that he was a talented thrower  who was perhaps too much of a prima donna for the good of the team.

That seems to have changed this year as he has grown into his role and learned more about the game. The increasing role of no-nonsense Army vet Patrick McDonald in the team may also have had an influence.

It's certainly a more humble Perez who appears in this interview, which gives a good insight into what goes through his mind as he skips his team. Read it HERE.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Canada not distracted by Norway's pants

[photo - Gavin Day]
Norway have traditionally had Canada's number and were my pick to be the team no one will want to meet in the playoffs. Against Canada, who they beat in round robin play lasy year, they took singles in the first three ends and were ahead 5-4 with hammer in the eighth.

Jim Armstrong threw a perfect guard with his first stone and then came around with his last stone to sit two. Norwegian skip Rune Lorentsen crashed on the guard to give Canada a 6-4 win. Match report HERE

Lindon Little's report in the Vancouver Sun suggests that Canada needed every bit of Jim's ice-reading experience to counter difficult ice conditions; heavy with huge late swing. Norway protested the result of a measurement, a protest that was denied after video review.

USA played Germany, the team that robbed them of a medal at last year's Worlds. Germany stole the  first 4 points, but USA playyed patiently and scored singles in the last three ends to take the game 6-5.  Match report HERE

USA skip said: "I have nothing but praise for our team. In the second end we made some mistakes and missed an easy draw. But I said to the guys that we have to believe we can still make it, even though we were four points down. If we get steals of one or two, we'll be fine."

A disappointed Jens Jager bemoaned his last shot: "On my last takeout I was too slow. It was a good match and we had control. I was just too slow on the last one."

Korea beat Japan 7-5 and Italy brutalised Switzerland 13-4 in six ends.

Switzerland didn't fare any better in the evening against Great Britain who finally posted a win, staying close through the break before stealing a key four points in the fifth end and winning 10-2.

Italy posted their second win of the day, 9-1 over a hapless Swedish side struggling to find their first win and the form that won silver against the same teams a year ago.

Canada play Japan at 12.30 and Sweden at 6pm tomorrow.

For full results and line scores visit our Vancouver Paralympic page.

The 2010 Canadian Nationals - who's going to win?

Bookmark the 2010 Canadian Nationals page.

The 2010 Canadian Nationals begin tomorrow with nine provincial and one host team making up the field.

Defending champions BC do not have Jim Armstrong or Jackie Roy, but have added Torino gold medalist Gerry Austgarden at 4th stones. BC's host team also figures to be stronger than previous hosts with another Torino Paralympian, Gary Cormack, at skip.

Ontario are the rookie team but went through the most challenging qualifying championship, and have also made an effort to travel as a team to gain competition experience. Skip Bruce Cameron has worked as hard as anyone to further the cause of wheelchair curling and beat tough opposition to get to Kelowna, but is untested in a long event

Alberta is also a team that traveled this season, competing in the Richmond Cashspiel. Anne Hibberd returns to the side after being unable to travel to last year's event. She replaces Bruno Yizek who is watching Team Canada from the bench.

Kenoran Wayne Ficek again defeated his Thunder Bay rivals and has had a year to build experience. Manitoba have one change this year, with George Horning replacing Michael Alberg.

Newfound and Labrador's Joanne MacDonald is the one female skip, moving from 3rd to take the place of Chris Daw, now commentating on Paralympic TV. Saskatchewan make one change, at alternate, and Nova Scotia have a new lead, Debbie Earle. Quebec brings two females in the squad that welcomes Ben Lessard back from injury.

So who will win? There has only ever been two winners of the Canadian National Championships; Team Canada through 2006 and then Team BC. Is this the year to see Manitoba step up? They looked unhappy at times last year and have a new coach this year. Alberta have the experience but Anne Hibberd has to show she can play third.

BC have experience despite their rookie lead. If they can work out whose team it is and what role each player has, they'll do well. And Northern Ontario have the fire to improve on the disappointment of last year's playoff loss.

Comments are open for who you think will make the playoffs.

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.