Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Canada's emphasis shifts from international competition to national athlete development

Sometimes no news is good news, and sometimes no news means that everyone is holding their breath and hoping not to be crushed when the elephant sits down.

With skip Jim Armstrong awaiting trial, presently scheduled for October 25 in US District Court in Seattle, for trafficking counterfeit pills, there has been no Team Canada activity over the summer.

After a four year campaign ending in gold medals at the 2009 Worlds and 2010 Paralympics, there was always going to be a slower pace to this season as plans are made for the next quadrennial, with a switch of emphasis from international competition, to encouraging domestic competition.

While Joe Rea remains national team coach, Wendy Morgan has been appointed National Program Manager for wheelchair curling. This will entail working with each province's designated wheelchair curling coordinators. I am assured that each province has such a person and I will publish their names as soon as I have them.

The CCA's involvement in wheelchair curling will continue to be split between the Discover Curling Program run by Danny Lamoureux and responsible for grassroots development, and "long term athlete development" which will be assisted by the national coaching staff and national program athletes.

While there is an argument that this separation is artificial and obstructive of grassroots development, it fits the existing determination of CCA staff to keep national team membership and training under their close control.

Wendy Morgan says: "The current National Team will train independently and attend a couple of training camps  (TBD).  They will compete in the Richmond Invitational in December. (ed. December 1-4 - entry deadline September 30)

It is likely that a group core of athletes from the current National Team will represent Canada at the World championships in Prague in 2011."

There will, however, be a nation-wide series of "Talent ID/Development Camps with the intention to recruit talented/promising wheelchair athletes to the National Team Program while making a positive contribution to local wheelchair curling programs."

What that means for ambitious curlers outside of the present program, is that either by winning your provincial championship, or by gaining the sponsorship of your provincial coordinator, you will have the opportunity to at least make yourself known to national coaching staff.

A provisional list of potential venues includes St. John's NFLD, Halifax, Ottawa, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg/Regina, Calgary, Richmond and Whitehorse.

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