Thursday, May 27, 2010

Frank LaBounty wins CurlBC's Athlete with a Disability Award

Prince George resident Frank LaBounty was selected by CurlBC's Awards & Recognition Committee to receive the Athlete with a Disability Award for he 2009-2010 season.

The award is for accomplishments in events recognized by Curl BC. Winners must have competed at the national or international level or have shown outstanding achievement at the provincial level.

Frank played third for Gerry Austgarden, winning the BC provincials and earning a silver medal at the National Championships won by Gary Cormack, also from BC.

Last year's winner was Jim Armstrong. While Frank has been a stalwart in BC wheelchair curling since the beginning, it is perhaps surprising that he beat out all nine BC residents who won Paralympic and National gold medals last season.

Team GB's Aileen Neilson wins S. Lanarkshire Sports Award

[photo - Bob Cowan]
Aileen Neilson was crowned the South Lanarkshire Female Sports Performer of the Year. As well as competing in the Vancouver Paralympics, the Bent Primary School teacher was also in the rink which won the Scottish Championships in October and the British Championships in September.

The 38-year-old told the East Kilbride News: “I’ve had a great time this year and I’m delighted and honoured to have won this award. Although the team didn’t return home from Vancouver with a medal, this award shows our hard work and dedication in the sport of wheelchair curling has still been recognised by South Lanarkshire Leisure.”

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Team Canada - time for a change?

I've been getting emails asking whether the current selection process for Team Canada should be changed to the traditional "win to play" system used in the able-bodied game: if you win a national championship you become Team Canada with the perks and responsibilities that go with that title.

We have just finished a funding cycle where the importance of winning a gold medal overrode all other considerations, though proponents of selection dispute that there is a useful distinction between what is good for Canada's medal prospects and what is good for the sport as a whole.

As we approach a new quadrennial, there is an opportunity for participants in wheelchair curling to say whether there should be change.

Opponents of the current national squad system argue that moving away from curling's traditional "win to play" method of Team Canada selection discriminates against wheelchair users on the basis of their disability. It prevents them from having the same opportunity to represent their country, by winning a provincial and then national title, as able-bodied curlers.

The present selection system stresses the importance of a successful national team in generating funding, some of which, says the CCA's Gerry Peckham, trickles down to aid the development of the sport at the grassroots. He feels that selection is necessary if Canada is to field the strongest possible team and have the best possible chance for success on the world stage, and disputes the notion that having a separate system for Canada's wheelchair curlers is discriminatory.

He notes that all other countries select their teams and Canada needs to field a team that can successfully compete against them. Over the next couple of years he hopes national coaches will be spending more time working with wheelchair curlers across the country, and will be looking for those individuals with the skills to join the high performance pool."

Does national team selection help or hinder grass roots participation? Would proponents of "win to play" be prepared to forgo funding from organizations such as Own The Podium predicated on a selection system? How would the winner of a national championship have time and resources to prepare for a World Championship, even if the Canadian Nationals were scheduled before the Worlds? (The 2011 Nationals are scheduled a month after the 2011 Worlds.)

Add your thoughts to the comments below.

I have always been a proponent of individual team formation at the provincial level, and for wheelchair teams to be offered the same opportunities granted to able-bodied curling teams. Most countries are satisfied with just enough wheelchair curlers to qualify for World Curling Federation events. But Canada has the facilities, resources, nation-wide coaching and pool of potential curlers to allow an internationally competitive team to qualify through a national championship.

Policies for the sport are decided at the CCA's Annual General Meeting coming up in June. Every province sends representatives who vote on motions presented to that meeting. If you have an opinion on how our sport should be organised, discuss it here, but also make your opinions known to your provincial association. They represent you, and can't know what you think unless you tell them.

If you have formed a wheelchair curling association affiliated to your provincial association, make sure your association's views are reported to your province and then to the CCA's AGM.

If the principles governing the organization of Team Canada are to change, now is the time for that to happen. The present system has produced titles. It has not driven participation across Canada. Would a change of method in selecting Team Canada change that? Would the sport grow from the present 20 or 25 teams nationally, or would, as Peckham noted, it shrink as is happening in all other areas of curling as curlers realise that only elite teams can hope to succeed?

Let those making the decisions for the next four years know how the people who play and support our sport feel about its future direction.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Edmonton's Jasper Place CC to host the 2011 Canadian Nationals

Cathy Craig, manager of the Jasper Place Curling Club in Edmonton, Alberta, tells the Edmonton Journal that the club will host the 2011 Canadian National Wheelchair Curling Championships, March 20 - 27.

The club will be undertaking a two-stage renovation made possible by a $263,200 grant from the federal Recreational Infrastructure Canada program. Phase 1 will include an elevator to the viewing area, and accessible bathrooms.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Team USA receives Congressional Award

WKTV reports that the U.S. Paralympic Curling Team was honored with a Congressional Record Statement Friday. The statement, presented by Congressman Michael Arcuri, was presented at the Sitrin, New Hartford, the team's sponsor.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Armstrong pleads not guilty - trial date July 6

The Victoria Times Colonist reports that Jim Armstrong entered a plea of not guilty to charges of trafficking in fake Viagra pills. A date was set for trial in US District Court in Seattle for July 6.

Armstrong was arrested April 15 after collecting a package containing 3,000 fake pills, and has been free on $20,000 surety bond. Armstrong’s son Gregory, 28, is also named in the indictment and a bench warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Wheelchair curling down under - Melbourne, May 24

The Victorian Curling Association in Melbourne, Australia, is sponsoring a "come and try" session on May 24 from 6pm at the Icehouse in the Docklands. You can download the event poster from the link on this page of their website.

Though Jim Oastler has for many years been promoting curling in general and wheelchair curling in particular in Australia, he's hopeful that the attention garnered by the Paralympics will provide the catalyst to gain wheelchair curling a toe-hold in a country obsessed with sport .

"We are also eager to expand wheelchair curling through the Australian Curling Federation.  We will continue to offer come and try sessions at the Curling Nationals; and plan return visits to Queensland and New South Whales to establish wheelchair curling with those state curling associations."

Monday, May 10, 2010

Chris Daw to be inducted to London (ON) Sports Hall Of Fame

The London Free Press is reporting that Chris Daw, skip of Canada's gold medal winning team in Torino 2006, will be inducted into the London (ON) Sports Hall Of Fame this fall at a date to be announced.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ina Forrest honoured in her community

Roger Knox/morning star
Team Canada Paralympic gold medalist Ina Forrest was honoured by the Mayors of Armstrong and Spallumcheen. Mayor Chris Pieper and colleague Mayor Will Hansma presented Forrest with recognition of excellence awards from both communities in front of both councils Monday in Spallumcheen.

Read more from the Vernon Morning Star's report HERE.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Accessible sports demo in Sault Ste Marie May 9

There's an afternoon of accessible sports demonstrations including wheelchair curling being held in the John Rhodes Centre in Sault Ste Marie ON this Sunday May 9th from noon till 4 pm.

The event has been organised by the newly formed Sault Ste Marie Accessible Sports Counci with a grant from ParaSport Ontario.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Team Shinshu wins Japan National Champonship

The Shinshu team from Nagano went undefeated in an 8 team field to win the 6th Japan National Wheelchair Curling Championship, held at the Sapporo Olympic Stadium in the Mika Hotai-ikukan April 9-11.

Japan will compete at the World  Qualifying tournament later this year where the top two teams will join the top eight teams from the 2009 Worlds, for the 2011 World Championship, February 21 - March 3 in Prague.