Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Richmond International Cashspiel begins Dec. 1st

The 4th Annual Richmond International Cashspiel begins 9.30 am Wednesday December 1st at the Richmond CC, sponsored by the Richmond Centre for Disability. Team Canada's gold medal team will be competing for the first time since Vancouver, and possibly for the only time before the 2011 Worlds in Prague next February. Korea are fielding two teams, an American team from Portland Oregon's Evergreen CC have traveled north, and Chris Daw has his much anticipated return to the ice on the 4C's team.

Canada A play Korea A in the opening draw. Draw times are 9.30am and 1.30pm with the final between the top two teams after round robin play scheduled for 1.30pm, Saturday December 4.

Event details and links to the Draw Schedule are HERE.

Results will be posted as and when available. If anyone attending cares to send photos I'll post those too. (Please include names!)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Scots take to the road

The Scottish Wheelchair Curling Association is planning a series of Roadshows this season, travelling to various clubs describing all the competitions and pathways available for wheelchair curlers and coaches to advance their skills.

First stop was last Saturday at the Borders WCC in Kelso where SWCA Chair Judy Mackenzie and Players’ representative Michael McCreadie talked about the new Skills Awards and the Shotmaker initiative, before taking players and coaches onto the ice for some practical tips.

This initiative is a good demonstration of what can come from empowering players to help guide the sport. Established Scottish players see it in their interest to grow participation. Wheelchair curlers have formed their own clubs within clubs, as have some in Canada, the better to organise and advertise their activities. At the Star Refrigeration National Pairs event, most of the established Scottish players paired with less experienced partners.

Canadians obviously face distance challenges for it to be easy to travel as wheelchair curling evangelists, but they can perhaps learn something from the player inspired initiatives underway in Scotland to nourish the game at the grassroots.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sonja Gaudet keynote speaker at Dominion Club Championship

Team Canada lead and double Paralympic gold medalist Sonja Gaudet was the keynote speaker at the opening banquet of the Dominion Club Championship at the APM Centre in Cornwall, PEI.

She spoke about reintroducing sports into her life after her spinal cord injury, what it meant to compete at World events, and also  gave a plug for integration of wheelchair users into curling club activities.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Team Canada's Joe Rea wins coaching excellence award

Joe Rea, coach of Canada's gold medal Vancouver Paralympic team, was one of 43 Canadian coaches honoured with a 2010 Petro-Canada Excellence in Coaching Award. This year's awards recognize coaches who have helped their athletes achieve top results at recent World Championships and/or Olympic and Paralympic Games. Joe also received an award last year for his team's 2009 World Championship performance.

A complete list of this year's recipients can be found HERE.

USA skip 'Goose' Perez living strong in this profile

Team USA skip Augusto 'Goose' Perez has other high performance sports interests beyond curling, as this profile from the Livestrong Blog shows. He also has a very photogenic family.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Comment from Team Canada coach Joe Rea

Team Canada coaches this season are undertaking two tasks. The first, to prepare a team that will travel to Prague next February to defend their World title and hopefully gain their first points towards qualifying for the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, Russia. The second, to organise a series of talent identification and development camps across the country, giving those wheelchair users not currently part of the national program, an opportunity to demonstrate their skills.

Whenever there is a post about Team Canada the comments tend to concentrate on personalities: why has this person been favoured over that, why isn't this person being considered, my dad's bigger than your dad and so on. To 'clear up any confusion', National Team Coach Joe Rea writes:

"Just to clear the air about who attended the Richmond Camp last weekend: it was Jim, Darryl, Ina, Sonja, Bruno, Chris Sobkowicz, Gerry Austgarden, Gary Cormack, Whitney Warren and Frank LaBounty. 

"These players were invited to camp because of their record in Nationals last season and/or being part of the last cuts to Team Canada. 

"We will also have a second team competing in the Richmond (RDC) spiel at the beginning of December consisting of Gerry Austgarden, Anne Hibberd from Calgary, Whitney and Frank. Bruno Yizek will start playing with a second Korean team, which is a player short.

"We are continuing with the regional camps in each province to help identify potential Team Canada pool participants over the balance of this season. I hope this clears up any confusion."

Attendance at the provincial camps is at the discretion of provincial, not national coaches. Although CCA guidance was for provincial champions and perhaps one or two additional players to be invited, different provinces have taken different approaches to who and how many should attend.

"By the end of the season," Joe Rea told me, "we will have seen most if not all players with the skills and attitude to become part of Team Canada. If anyone feels they have been overlooked, they must ask their provincial coaches to recommend that we take a look at them. Players are asked to make a big commitment, and one of the things these provincial camps allow us to do is explain what is expected. We understand that players seen at the beginning of the season will not have had the same opportunities to practice as those seen later, but the evaluation process is not just about statistics."

In addition to the Richmond spiel in December, Team Canada hope to take a team to Scotland in the middle of January, though whether that will be the medal team or a development team hasn't been decided.

At the end of the season, after the provincial camps, there will be a large Team Canada training camp of players who will form the core group for the 2014 Paralympics, though it will still be possible to break into this group next season.

"Standards of play have risen significantly over the past several years," says Joe Rea. "We need players who have the time and commitment to put in the necessary work. We also need players who understand the game, and have what it takes to be a team player. The aim is for an open and honest evaluation to make the Canadian Team.”

The CCA, to their credit, have made an effort this year to give everyone who's shown ability, an opportunity to impress national coaches. The path is clear - convince your province's wheelchair curling co-ordinator that you should attend a camp in your area, and then show who you are and what you can do. You may not make it, but at least you'll have had the opportunity to try.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Quebec takes Cathy Kerr final after extra end

Quebec stole a point from USA1 in an extra end of the final to win the 6th Annual Cathy Kerr Memorial in Ottawa.

Quebec were down by 3 in the eighth but sitting 3 when skip Ben Lessard drew for the win with his last stone. The rock went through the house, forcing an extra end.

In the 9th USA1 had their own chance to win with their last rock. Quebec had a biter counting shot stone back 12, and USA skip Goose Perez had only to reach the rings for the victory, but his draw came up short. Goose's team lost their lead, Tammy Delano, after the first match. She had a nasty fall when her chair tipped over backwards. Sue, a an inexperienced but very game substitute, joined Jimmy Joseph and Bob Prenoveau to finish out the tournament.

Earlier USA1 had extended their unbeaten record with a semi-final win over Bruce Cameron's home-ice squad, while Quebec extended their perfect record with a win over Ken Gregory's Bradford rink.

Bradford later beat Cameron to take 3rd spot.

In the recreational division, Team Michel finished 1st, over Beaudin, then Quebec and Wong-Sing.

More details if and when available.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Unbeaten USA 1 and Quebec head into playoffs at Cathy Kerr

Wheelchair curling's largest event, the 6th Annual Cathy Kerr Memorial Bonspiel, with ten competitive teams and four more playing in the recreational division, is underway in Ottawa, Ontario.

The competitive teams, playing for $1400 prize money, were divided into two pools, and after the four game round robin, Team USA 1 and Team Quebec are unbeaten going into tomorrow's playoff rounds.

Group A                                     Group B

USA 1         8 points    Quebec   8 points
Bradford      5 points    Cameron  4 points
Thiessen      4 points    Rees     3 points
Newfoundland  3 points    Ilderton 2 points
Fraser        0 points    USA 2    2 points

On Sunday USA 1 plays Cameron, with the winner playing the winner of Quebec vs Bradford for the title.

Sunday Draw

Team USA 1 vs Team Cameron
Team Bradford vs Team Quebec
Team Thiessen vs Team Rees
Team NFL vs Team Ilderton
Team Fraser vs Team USA 2


1st – Team Beaudin
2nd – Team Michel
3rd = Team Quebec
4th – Team Wong-Sing

Recreational Sunday Draw

1st vs 2nd place
3rd vs 4h place

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Team Canada to attend first camp since Vancouver gold

Canada's gold medal winning team, plus late cuts to the squad Chris Sobkowicz and Gerry Austgarden, will be attending their first camp since the Vancouver Paralympics, this weekend in Richmond, BC.

National team coach Joe Rea and sport psychologist Dr. Laura Farres of Mind In Motion Consulting Inc. will be at the camp. Dr. Farres' article "Preparing Mentally for Major Events" can be read HERE

Photos from 2010 Worlds Qualifying - Lohja, Finland

The logistics of gathering information about an event often means that photos arrive too late to include in written reports. Below are some team photos and others from the 2010 Worlds Qualifying in Lohja, Finland. All but one of the team photos were taken by Katja Kiiskinen of the Finnish Curling Association, who was, throughout the event always helpful and a valuable source of information.

Top qualifiers China
Haitao Wang, Wei Liu, Guangqin Xu, Jun He

Second qualifiers Russia
(?), Svetlana Pakhomova, (?), Andrey Smirnov, Marat Romanov

3rd place Italy
Edigio Marchese, Gabriele Dallapiccola, Emanuele Spelorzi, Angela Menardi

4th place Japan

Katsuo Ichikawa, Yogi Nakajima, Aki Ogawa, Ayakp Saitoh

Manfred Bolliger, Claudia Huettenmoser, Hieronymus Liechtenhan, Daniel Meyer

Radoslav Duris, Dusan Pitonak, Alena Kánová, Monika Kunkelová

Rosita Jensen, Kenneth Orbaek, Jørn Kristensen with Coach Per Christensen

Vesa Hellman, Tuomo Aarnikka, Markku Karjalainen, Sari Karjalainen
Ojars Briedis, Vita Miezite, Ilmars Nicmanis, Aleksandrs Dimbovkis,
Coach Artis Zentelis (photo - Linda Kirton)

France (unfortunately prevented from competing)
Andre Jouvent, Herve Bouchard, Christophe Amann, Paulette Divine

[photo - Linda Kirton]
Ice-maker Jorgen Larsen, though a Dane, nevertheless dared to arrive at the post tournament banquet wearing his Norwegian pants.
 [photo - Linda Kirton]
And because Finland is only just down the road, Santa paid an early visit to WCF President Kate Caithness and Keith Wendorf, WCF Director of Competitions.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tips for team timekeeping in competitive play

Linda Kirton was Head Umpire at the recent Worlds Qualifying in Lohja, Finland. Many of the teams had their first competitive experience with the new time constraints, especially as they applied to time outs. Here she shares some observations from an Umpire's perspective.

I have just returned from the 2010 Worlds Qualifying tournament in Lohja, Finland, where as Chief Umpire I saw at first hand how teams managed their allotted time. As umpires we are there to be helpful, so here is some information offered in the hope it may be useful to competitive teams playing under time constraints at WCF or CCA events.

WCF rules dictate that if a team is unable to release their final stone over the hogline before their time runs out, they forfeit the game. While no games were forfeited in Finland, some teams came to within a few seconds of running out of time, and games may well have been lost when last rock throwers were forced to rush their final deliveries.

There are several elements to preparing for competitions that use time clocks. (Teams can practice using time clocks with the CurlTime computer program, available as a free download from the WCF.)

First: understand the rules governing time clocks.

68 minutes per side is lots of time but teams should understand when their clock starts and, as importantly, when it stops.

Your clock begins when the other team has exited the target area and the house belongs to your side. Be in position to throw as soon as the house is yours. Lots of time is wasted moving to get into position after your clock has begun. On-ice player assistants, who may be gathering rocks, should have your rock in position for you as soon as you are in position.

Similarly, curling rules (CCA rule 3(a)  WCF R13(d))  state that once you have delivered your stone, you should move out of the way of the next thrower, either forward or to the side. If you sit there and you admire your stone's path, or travel down the centre of the ice to the other end, your time clock will keep running because the opposing skip will not take ownership of the house while you are blocking the view from the throwing end.

Second: understand the rules governing "coach interactions," more commonly known as time-outs.

The new “coach interaction rule” (WCF allows just one per game, the CCA allows two) says that coaches may talk to their teams for up to 60 seconds BUT your time clock keeps running. This prevents a coach from calling a time out for the purpose of stopping the clock and thus helping a team short of time. The sixty seconds of the actual interaction begins when the team is gathered around the coach.

Third: Adjust your actions to your time. Don't waste time discussing when only one option is available. Ask yourself what options do we have? What is the score? How many ends do we have left? Then pick an option and make the shot.

Good Luck to all.
Linda Kirton

Team Canada take to the ice at Richmond Cashspiel Dec 1-4

The Richmond Centre for Disability is sponsoring their 4th Annual International Bonspiel from December 1-4, at the Richmond CC.

Team Canada coaches are forming two teams and Wendy Morgan confirmed that Jim will be playing. Initial team listings show Jim, Darryl, Ina, Sonja and Bruno on one team, with Gerry Austgarden returning to the fold, skipping Frank LaBounty, Whitney Warren and Alberta's Anne Hibberd. Coach Joe Rea may juggle those line-ups during the competition.

Korea, who featured in last year's event, are bringing seven players and three players from the Evergreen CC in Portland, Oregon, will compete in a team skipped by Vancouver's Bob MacDonald. One of the Americans, Stephen Hart, recently returned from a spiel in McCall, Idaho where he was the only wheelchair user at the event.

Stephen Hart - Evergreen CC in Portland, OR

Manitoba's Chris Sobkowicz's team includes Gary Cormack, Chris Daw and Corinne Jensen. Three skips and a lead will be fun to watch. Host Team R.C.D. includes past and present Canadian National Champions Jacqueline Roy, Samantha Siu, Vince Miele, Rich Green and Tom Parker. A seventh team will be made up of those attending but not selected for the other sides.

Play begins on Wednesday, December 1st, and concludes with the playoffs on Saturday, December 4th.  Prizes will be awarded to the top three teams with $1,000 being awarded to the first place team.  There will also be $50 prize money awarded for each win during round-robin play.

CLICK HERE for more event details.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Aussies win first competitive game

Kon Kiryakudya and Sarah Miller

Now that Australia has its first dedicated curling ice at the Ice House in Melbourne Docklands, long time Aussie curling advocate James Oastler has been organizig a wheelchair curling team.

The group - skip: Glen Bond, 3rd: Sarah Miller, 2nd: Kon Kiryakudya and lead: Danny Chaplin (positions will change) have been practicing regularly and this past Monday evening won their first game at the Melbourne Summer Curling competition. 

Playing an experienced able-bodied team, they got off to a great start with a 3 in the first and followed with a steal, only to fall behind 5-4 in the 4th. The rallied, however, to record the first win by an Aussie wheelchair team, 7-5.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Weekend Wrap-up - 32 teams plus 2 pairs competing

With ten teams in Lohja Finland finishing the Worlds Qualifying, seven teams in Utica NY for the US Open, and six in Prague for their Open (information previously posted), three other tournaments this weekend made it the busiest three days of wheelchair curling since the sport began.

In Bern Switzerland, five teams competed for the 2010 Rolli Trophy. Jens Jager's new Mainhattan Ice Wheelers won the event. His team from the  Schwenningen CC: Heike Melchior at lead, Uwe Raschke 2nd, and Martin Schlitt at 3rd. Teams from Lausanne, Basel, Bern and Wetzikon competed. Results are available HERE.

In Calgary, the Alberta CF and the Calgary Wheelchair Curling Association sponsored Alberta's first Cashspiel, a four team double round robin event at the Ogden Legion CC. Team (Jack) Smart (5-1), with Bruno Yizek, Ann Anne Hibberd, Bridget Wilson and Martin Purvis took the $400 first prize, which they donated back to the club towards next year's event which they hope to schedule in October.

Last year's Team Saskatchewan skip Darwin Bender (4-2, $300) brought provincial teammates Gil Dash, Marie Wright and Terry Hart.  Michael Alberg (2-4, $200) who is hoping this year to break Chris Sobkowicz monopoly on the Manitoba provincial title, brought Dennis Thiessen, Effie Loubardias and Heather Mowat.

A second Calgary team skipped by Dale Keith (1-5, $100) with George Assenheimer, Curtis Junor, Wanda Pizzinato, and Jolly Knowles completed the field. and also donated their prize money.

Jim Armstrong and Darryl Neighbour won the mixed Golden (2on2) Stick Spiel in Maple Ridge, BC. Gary Cormack partnered Chris Daw in the other wheelchair pairing of the 14 team field. Results HERE.

Next week is the Cathy Kerr Memorial Bonspiel in Ottawa; with 15 teams expected.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Norway continue 17-0 run with win at Prague Open

Rune Lorentsen, Tone Edvardsen, Jostein Stordahl, Terje Rafdal
Norway won their third successive tournament and notched their 17th consecutive match without a loss, by taking the Prague Open this weekend. Norway's coach Thoralf Hognestad, who took back the reins this season after a year away from the game, took the opportunity to introduce two new players to international competition; Tone Edvartsen and Terje Rafdal. They played with the experienced back end of Rune Lorentsen and his vice, Jostein Stordahl.

Germany, skipped by Marcus Sieger, who threw 3rd stones, were tied with Norway and had hammer going into the final end, but surrendered a single for their only loss, 6-5.

The Italians, though winless, had three of their matches decided by a single point.

Final Standings

1.  Norway  5-0
2.  Germany 4-1
3.  Czech Rep2 3-2 
4.  Czech Rep1 2-3
5.  Poland 1-4
6.  GS Periscopio (ITA) 0-5

Results can be found HERE.

Goose Perez skips USA 1 to US Open title

Team USA skip Goose Perez skipped USA 1 to the US Open title at Utica, NY. Playing with national lead Jaqui Kapinowski at 3rd, and with newcomers Laura Schwanger and Penny Greely, the Perez team finished with a decisive 5 win and one tie record.

USA 2, Bradford and Quebec all finished on 7 points, the order decided on tie breaks.

Draw 6

USA #1: 11221001: 8
Toronto: 00000210: 3

USA #2:    20004021: 9
Cape Cod: 04110100: 7

Bradford: 01131010: 7
Quebec:  10000105: 7

Draw 7

USA #2: 3104010-: 9
Quebec: 0010102-: 4

USA #1:    4020330-: 12
Cape Cod: 0103001-: 5

Ottawa:  222030--: 9
Toronto: 000101--: 2

Final Standings

1. USA #1 (5-0-1, 11 points)
2. USA #2 (3-2-1, 7 points) *beat Bradford and Quebec head-to-head
3. Bradford (2-1-3, 7 points) *tied Quebec head-to-head but won more ends
4. Quebec (3-2-1, 7 points)
5. Ottawa (3-3-0, 6 points)
6. Toronto (1-3-2, 4 points)
7. Cape Cod (0-6-0, 0 points)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

US Open - Day 2

USA 1 scored 8 points in victories over Ottawa (8-3) and Quebec (8-5) to go top of the table on the second day of the US Open in Utica, NY. Players on the current USA national team have been divided between two teams at this event, with 'Goose' Perez and Jaqui Kapinowski in USA 1, and Jim Pierce and Jimmy Joseph in USA 2.

USA 2 beat Ken Gregory's Bradford team 9-2, and tied 5-5 with Chris Rees' Toronto.

Quebec's Ben Lesard, with a win and a loss before their third gae of the day, fell behind Bruce Cameron 5-4 at the break after leading 4-1, but regrouped with a steal of 3 that held off Cameroon's Ottawa team's late rally for an 8-7 victory.

Bradford's game against Toronto showed how unpredictable wheelchair curling can be. Bradford began with three singles, then gave up a 6 to fall behind 3-6 at the break, only to tie the game 8-8 with a 4 in the final end.

Newcomers Cape Cod with David Palmer at skip, had never been asked to play three games in a day against experienced opposition, and gave up some very big ends. They could take some comfort from their third game where they kept the 5s and 6s off the scoreboard and held Bradford to 8 points over seven ends.

There will be a live webcast of Team USA 1's final games Sunday at 8.30am and 12.45pm local time.

Results Draw 3

USA #2:  3 1 1 0 3 1 X X - 9
Bradford: 0 0 0 2 0 0 X X - 2

Quebec:    1 5 0 3 5 1 X X - 15
Cape Cod: 0 0 1 0 0 0 X X -   1

USA #1: 2 2 2 0 0 2 X X - 8
Ottawa: 0 0 0 1 2 0 X X - 3

Draw 4

Ottawa:    6 2 0 3 0 5 X X - 16
Cape Cod: 0 0 1 0 1 0 X X -  2

Toronto:  0 0 0 6 1 0 1 0 - 8
Bradford: 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 4 - 8

USA #1:  2 0 1 3 2 0 0 0 - 8
Quebec:  0 2 0 0 0 1 1 1 - 5

Draw 5

USA #2:  1 0 2 0 0 0 2 0 - 5
Toronto:  0 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 - 5

Bradford:   0 1 3 2 0 1 1 X - 8
Cape Cod: 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 X - 3

Quebec: 1 0 3 0 1 3 0 0  - 8
Ottawa: 0 1 0 4 0 0 1 1  - 7

Current Standings:

USA #1:    3-0-1
Quebec:    3-1-0
Bradford:   2-1-2
Ottawa:    2-3-0
Toronto:    1-1-2
USA #2:    1-2-1
Cape Cod: 0-4-0

US Open Day 1

The US Open in Utica, NY, features three US based teams and four visiting Canadian club teams.

Team USA are searching for a replacement for Patrick McDonald, and expect to experiemnt with line-ups over the weekend. For the two Friday draws Goose Perez skipped USA 1 and his regular vice-skip Jim Pierce skipped USA 2.

They faced each other in the opening draw, and USA 2 got off to a promising start when they stole a point in the opening end, but lost 10-4.

Toronto beat Cape Cod 9 - 2. It was Cape Cod's first competitive game away from home ice. Ken Gregory's Bradford saw off the challenge of their province's champions, Bruce Cameron's Ottawa.

USA 1  *  0 1 1 0 4 0 1 3   10
USA 2      1 0 0 1 0 2 0 0    4

Quebec had a bye. Here are the line scores from the other morning games.

Toronto  *  1 4 0 0 2 1 1 X   9
Cape Cod   0 0 1 1 0 0 0 X   2

Bradford *  1 2 1 0 1 0 1 0   6
Ottawa       0 0 0 1 0 1 0 1   3

In the afternoon  USA 1 only managed a 5-5 tie with Bradford, while Ottawa with a steal of 2 in the second, closed out a 7-4 win over USA 2 with another pair in the final end.

Quebec opened their account by hammering Toronto with a 4 in the 1st end. They added 8 points in the final two ends for a 15-6 win.

Bradford  *  1 0 2 0 0 1 0 1    5
USA 1         0 1 0 1 2 0 1 0    5

Ottawa   *   1 2 0 1 0 1 0 2   7
USA 2          0 0 1 0 2 0 1 0   4

Quebec    *   4 0 3 0 0 3 5 X   15
Toronto         0 3 0 2 1 0 0 X    6

Ice conditions are reportedly good, with 4 feet of curl on a t-line draw.

Technical problems interfered with the live webcast Friday, but organisers hope that future games featuring USA 1 will be available HERE.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Esquimalt CC welcomes wheelchair curlers

Dave Graves and Ned Nedzelski

Esquimalt CC, on Bc's Vancouver Island, is making big efforts to open its doors to wheelchair users. They have a large ramp to get up to ice level and just this week have installed a large electrically operated sliding door to enter out onto the ice.

Last weekend they held their inaugural 2on2 stick bonspiel and wheelchair user Dave Graves, who curls out of Juan de Fuca but practices at Esquimalt regularly, paired up with Ned Nedzelski, finishing with a 2 and 2 record.

USA's Goose Perez takes a fair play message to school

[photo - Peter Crabtree]

Team USA's skip Augusto 'Goose' Perez to a very personal message of hard work and fair play to the Mount Anthony Union Middle School last Wednesday. He was invited to speak to students by teacher Brian Keller.

You can read what he told the students, what's happening in the photo and what is on the piece of paper he carries when he trains, by reading Daawson Raspuzzi's report in the Bennington Banner.

China and Russia qualify for 2011 Worlds

China and Russia qualified for the 2011 World Championships to be held next February in Prague, by emerging from two rounds of Page playoff games today.

Team China 3rd - Wei Liu

[Photo: Finnish Curling Association/Katja Kiiskinen]

China had topped the table after round robin play, and faced Italy, who also had a 7-1 record, in the 1v2 game. It was quickly decided. Italy stole 1 in the first and then gave up a 7 in the 2nd, and could never recover, losing 10-4.

CHN - China *0701101x10
ITA - Italy

China therefore qualified, while Japan waited to play the winner of the 2v3 game for the second qualifying place.

Russia, who had lost their chance to play in the 1v2 game yesterday when they were beaten by Japan, faced japan again in the 3v4. This time they asserted themselves early, stealing a single in the 3rd and a big 4 in the fourth to lead 6-1 at the break. Though Japan came back with a 4 of their own, they were always struggling to catch up though Russia needed their skip's last rock draw for a single point with hammer, to seal the 9-6 win.

RUS - Russia *01140201- 9
JPN - Japan
10001040 -6

That set up a Russia. Italy match for the second qualifying place. They had met in the first round robin draw, a game that produced the highest points total of the tournament when Italy took two in the final end to win 11-10.

Italy's Edigio Marchese - who stepped up to replace absent skip Andrea Tabanelli

[Photo: Finnish Curling Association/Katja Kiiskinen]

Today's game was much tighter. Russia started with hammer, took a single, then stole a point and added to their lead by scoring 2 for a 4-1 lead at the break. Italy scored the next three points, including steals of one in the 7th and 8th to force an extra, and were in with a chance with their last stone. Unfortunately for Italy, substitute skip Edigio Marchese's final rock was heavy, and Russia took two for a 6-4 win.

RUS - Russia *1102000 02 -6
ITA - Italy
0010101 10 -4

Team Russia
 [Photo: Linda Kirton]

Team Italy
Emanuale Spelorzi, Egidio Marchese, Gabriele Dallapiccola, Angela Menardi
 [Photo: Linda Kirton]

China and Russia join hosts Czech Republic, Canada, Sweden, Germany, USA, Scotland, Norway, and Korea at the 2011 World Wheelchair Curling Championships in Prague, February 21-March 3.

The 2011 Worlds will be the first opportunity for countries to register points towards qualification for the 2014 Paralympics in Russia. The top nine point scorers over the next three World Championships, will join hosts Russia in Sochi, 2014. This makes it additionally heartbreaking for Italy today, losing such a tight game to a country that does not need to qualify in 2014. Of course Russia, relative newcomers to the sport, will need all the top level competition it can gain if they hope to do well on home ice.

France, who attended the Qualifying tournament but were not allowed to compete because of a dispute between the French Curling Association and their governing body the French Federation of Ice Sports, nevertheless were able to play their games as friendlies.

Any country affiliated to the World Curling Federation was eligible to play in this Qualifying Tournament, so France did not take a place that would otherwise have gone to another country.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Worlds Qualifying - Day 5 - China top the table

Team China skip Haito Wang
[Photo: Finnish Curling Association/Katja Kiiskinen]

China faced unbeaten Italy in the morning draw of the last day of round robin play at the 2010 Worlds Qualifying in Kohja, Finland, with the winner assured of a place in the Page-playoff top two.

China had their perfect record broken by great double take-out that earned Russia a 5-4 win yesterday. Today Italy had no answer to a relentless series of single point steals, China winning 7-1.

Japan's 3rd Yoji Nakajima and 2nd Aki Ogawa

[Photo: Finnish Curling Association/Katja Kiiskinen]

In the other morning match with top spot implications, Russia began promisingly against Japan, stealing one in the first end and leading 8-6 after 6 ends. Japan outlasted them, however, taking 3 to go ahead, and sealing the 10-8 win with a final end steal. That meant Russia, who had a final round bye, would need help to claim a top spot.

Switzerland, who had to win both games to have a realistic hope of a tie-break entry to the playoffs, began the day with an 11-3 win over Latvia.

Denmark played Finland, stole 3 in the 1st and 2 in the 5th to go out to a 6-3 lead. The host side tied the game with a steal in the 7th, but Denmark steadied themselves to post their second win, taking 3 in the final end to win 9-6.

In the afternoon draw, China beat winless Latvia 12-1 to ensure they would finish top of the table. Russia, and Italy with just one loss, were assured playoff places, which left Japan and Switzerland fighting for the remaining playoff spot.

If Japan beat Finland they would claim it. if they lost and Switzerland beat Italy, Japan and Switzerland would play each other in a tie-break.

Japan started their match by giving up 4 in the 1st. They levelled the score at the break, but Finland, who'd had a disappointing tournament as far as results went, salvaged some pride by taking the last 6 points in a 10-4 win.

 Swiss 3rd Claudia Hüttenmoser
[Photo: Finnish Curling Association/Katja Kiiskinen]

Switzerland, with everything to play for, faced Italy and though tied 2-2 at the break, faded to a 7-3 loss. “We feel a little bit sad because the game against Italy was our last chance,” said Swiss vice-skip Claudia Hüttenmoser. “They played better than us and that’s life."

This means the top two teams, China and Italy, will play for the first of two qualifying places. The loser of that match will then play the winner of Japan/Russia, for the second qualifying spot.

"But who wins the tournament? They play all week, and there isn't a final final?" someone asked. No, and that's why it's called a qualifying tournament and not a bonspiel.

Final table after 9 draws

China          7 - 1
Italy           7 - 1
Japan          5 - 3
Russia         6 - 2
Switzerland  4 - 4
Slovakia      3 - 5
Denmark     2 - 6
Finland       2 - 6
Latvia         0 - 8

Tommorrow noon local time

Game 1 - 1 vs 2 - China vs  Italy -  winner qualifies for 2011 Worlds
Game 2 - 3 vs 4 - Russia vs Japan

Tomorrow 4.30 local time

Loser Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2  -  winner qualifies for 2011 Worlds

Line scores from the games are available HERE. Click on date.

Hopefully at least one of the first round of playoff games will be on Sheet B so we can watch a webcast.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Worlds Qualifying - Day 4 - Italy still perfect after beating China

Team Italy

[Photo: Finnish Curling Association/Katja Kiiskinen]

The top of the table teams continued to win in the morning draw at the Worlds Qualifying tournament in Lohja, Finland, but at the end of the day, only Italy (6-0) remained unbeaten. They have adjusted to the loss of their skip, Andreas Marchese, who had to return home before play began, and as the week has progressed, they have looked more and more comfortable.

Italy's Emanuale Spelorzi, braced by Gabriel Dallapiccola, watched by lead Angela Menardi
[Photo: Finnish Curling Association/Katja Kiiskinen]

Team Russia
[Photo: Finnish Curling Association/Katja Kiiskinen]
Russia arrived 10 days early and their pre-tournament training seems to have paid off. They saw off winless Latvia 8-3 in the morning. Denmark fought to the end of their 7-10 loss against Japan, but a steal of two in the 8th was not nearly enough to overcome Japan's steal of 5 in the 2nd.

 Japan's  Ayako Saito and Aki Ogawa. Japan is 1 of 4 teams with 2 females
[Photo: Finnish Curling Association/Katja Kiiskinen]

China posted a 4 and a 5 on their way to a 12-5 win against probably the most experienced skip on the ice, Switzerland's Manfred Bollinger.

Swiss skip Manfred Bollinger bracing his lead during warm-ups

[Photo: Linda Kirton]

Slovakia is appearing for just the second time at a world level event.  In 2008 they lost all their games, but this morning they posted their second win, 8-7 after stealing a point in the last end against hosts Finland.

The marquee match-up in the afternoon draw was Russia with one loss against previously unbeaten China. China had the hammer and took one in the first and added a stolen single in the second. Russia pulled level with 2 in the 3rd  fell behind by one in the 4th and pulled ahead with 2 in the fifth.

The 6th end saw a rare blank, but China could only claim a single point to level the scores after 7. Russia won the match, and second place in the standings, with a double takeout to win 5-4 to the cheers of a large group of Russian spectators.

Italy, who had a bye in the morning, buried Finland 11-1 in 7. Japan kept their playoff hopes alive by beating Slovakia 7-5, though the Slovaks gave them a scare by stealing the first two ends.

Denmark finally posted a win, 9-6, outlasting Latvia by stealing 3 in an extra end.

Italy and Russia are guaranteed a playoff spot and China could still take first place. Japan and Switzerland are also still in contention for the playoffs.

On current form, Japan and China both look to win at least one game tomorrow, which will force Switzerland to win both and beat Italy in the final draw to have a chance of playing on Friday.

Standings after Draw 7

Italy           6 - 0
Russia        6 - 1
China         5 - 1
Japan         4 - 2
Switzerland 3 - 3
Slovakia      2 - 5
Denmark     1 - 5
Finland       1 - 5
Latvia         0 - 6
Some random notes: teams are drawing to the button for hammer, and all but Denmark have missed the rings, thus reverting to a toss. Today Latvia came within 3.2 cm, and Finland threw within 2 cm of the pin.

It has been snowing and outside temperatures are around freezing. Apparently it's not a pleasant walk from the arena to the dining hall.

Finnish lead Sari Karjalainen dressed for the cold

[Photo: Finnish Curling Association/Katja Kiiskinen]

No one is complaining about the ice, which has maintained decent speed and curl.

Chief time-keeper Daryl Kirton (Canada) with a volunteer.
[photo Linda Kirton]
There haven't been any time clock penalties, though Russia has had time expire before their final rock has stopped, and Switzerland has run the clock down to less than 10 seconds. The clock operators and on-ice player assistants are from the facility's teaching program. They are training to be Sports Leaders, are young, enthusiastic, very cooperative and quick learners.

Thursday's games begin 9am local time. A live webcast from Sheet B can be seen HERE

Line scores from the games are available HERE. Click on date.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

2 on 2 stick tournament at Maple Ridge November 13-14

A 2 on 2 stick curling tournament will be held at the Golden Ears CC in Maple Ridge BC this weekend November 13-14.

Wheelchair and able-bodied teams will compete together. Darryl Neighbour is scheduled to compete again with his Team Canada skip Jim Armstrong in what would be Jim's first appearance since his legal problems became public.

2010 Rolli Trophy takes place in Bern Nov. 13-14

Jens Jäger, no longer skip of the German national team, will nevertheless be competing with his Mainhattan Ice Rollers for the 2010 Rolli Trophy in Bern, Switzerland, this weekend.

He will face teams from Wetzikon, Basel, Lausanne, and Bern.

Six teams competing in the Prague Open November 12-14

Four international teams are traveling to the Czech Republic this weekend for the 2010 Prague Open, November 12-14.

Norway's coach Thoralf Hognestad is introducing a new front end to international competition. Tone Edvartsen will play lead and Terje Rafdal will play 2nd. Long time skip Rune Lorentsen and Jostein Stordahl round out the team.

Team Germany, having displaced Paralympic skip Jens Jäger, will be skipped by Marcus Sieger, who will continue to play 3rd stones, while Jens Gabel throws last. Stefan Deuschl plays lead and Christiane Steger plays 2nd.

Paolo Ioriatti skips an Italian squad with a female, Gabriele Dallapiccola, at 3rd. Poland last appeared in a World event in the 2008  Qualifiers, but none of that team are playing in Prague. Of the four playing now, Eugeniusz Błaszczak played for Poland in 2006 joined by Maciej Karaś in 2007.

The Czechs field two teams in preparation for deciding their squad as hosts of the 2011 Worlds next February.

Teams line-ups can be seen HERE

Seven team field for 5th Annual US Open in Utica Nov. 12-14

Seven teams have signed on for this year's US Open, held for the 5th time in Utica NY from November 12-14. The format is a full 6 game round robin.

Team USA is fielding two teams and will be searching for a replacement for Patrick McDonald, out for the season after shoulder surgery. Cape Cod CC is sending a team, and four Canadian teams round out the field: Team Lessard (Quebec), Team Bradford skipped by Ken Gregory, Team Toronto and Team Cameron (Ottawa).

There will be a live webcast of all Team USA 1's games, who open against Team USA 2 at 9.30 Friday morning. The final draw is 12.45pm Sunday.

The draw schedule is HERE

Wheelchair bonspiel in Calgary this weekend Nov. 12-14

Calgary's Team Alberta is hosting a bonspiel on their home ice at the Ogden Legion CC. Team Smart will face Team Keith, also from Calgary, and Team Alberg from Manitoba and Team Bender from Saskatchewan.

It will be a double round robin, beginning noon on Friday November 12, with the final beginning 10am on Sunday.

Fredericton CC "coming on fast."

Fredericton CC President/Manager Ed Haggerty writes to say that his club is "coming on  fast" in its plans to develop wheelchair curling in New Brunswick. It is the only wheelchair accessible curling facility in the province and is holding a wheelchair bonspiel the last weekend in January (28-30).

The club, founded in 1854, was somewhat unceremoniously ejected from its location at the Fredericton Golf (and previously Curling) Club in 2007, but has relocated in the Coliseum on the historic Fredericton Exhibition Grounds.

The move has allowed wheelchair access, and this year the club ran a clinic for wheelchair users and prospective coaches, attracting 26 potential recruits and 18 possible coaches. There are currently a core of five regular wheelchair users who come to the club once a week.

The club is actively looking for curlers, and with the Nationals looking for a tenth provincial team, prospects are excellent if you live in New Brunswick.

Worlds Qualifying - Day 3 - Italy and China unbeaten

China skip Haitao Wang
[Photo: Finnish Curling Association/Katja Kiiskinen]

Experience is beginning to tell at the midway point of Worlds Qualifying in Lohja, Finland. Italy (5-0) "seem invincible" according to one experienced observer, and stand in skip Edigio Marchese is doing an excellent job guiding the team. This morning's 6-4 win over Japan featured a steal of 2 in the final end of what had been a very tight contest.

Several teams have been running their time clocks dangerously close to zero. Japan had only 6 minutes left for their final end against Italy, and even though skip Katsuo had 3 minuets to deliver his final stones, he did not look comfortable. He had to make full 8 foot with his last rock to beat Italy, but his stone overcurled, or perhaps he was tight to the broom.

Italy faced an easier challenge against winless Latvia (0-4) in the afternoon, winning 9-3 after leading 7-0 at the break.

Japan (2-2) recovered from their morning loss to take an important win over Switzerland (3-2), a team that will challenge them for a playoff place. Again steals in ends 3 and 4 were the difference in a 6-3 win.

Switzerland, with hammer, had earlier spotted Slovakia (1-4) to a 3-0 start, but ended comfortable winners 9-3.

Unbeaten China (4-0) had a comfortable 9-2 win over hosts Finland in the morning draw, but were almost shocked by Slovakia in the afternoon, giving up a 5 in the 4th and falling behind 8-2. They then regrouped, taking 2 with hammer in the 6th, and stealing 3 in the 7th to pull within one. Another steal of 3 in the eighth gave them a 10-8 win.

Slovakian skip Radoslav Duriš had a chance with his first stone of the final end, to throw a guard which would have made it very difficult for China to remove it to score. Unluckily for Slovakia, the attempted guard was hogged. Slovakia still had a chance with their final stone - an open hit, or draw to China's shot stone would have kept their lead intact, but Radoslav was a little inside on his release, his stone over-curled, and China completed a dramatic come back.

Slovakia is one of three teams on 4 losses, which I'm sure Vic Rauter would agree in an eight game tournament will be too many to contend.

Finland (1-3) had beaten Russia three times in three attempts in pre-tournament friendly matches, so were especially disappointed to lose 10-7 to their neighbours. Finland took 4 in the 7th to go ahead 7-6, but then gave up 4 for the loss.

The morning's excellent quality webcast (with commentary) saw Russia play Denmark. The Danes ("we're red. we're white. we're dynamite") have an experienced coach (Per Christensen, who coached Norway at the Vancouver Paralympics) yet they are the only team using what must surely by now be the discredited near t-line delivery zone Great Britain/Scotland adopted.

The additional distance meant their lead found it hard to reach the rings, the front even with hammer became cluttered, and Denmark looked every bit an 0-4 team. In what became an all too typical situation, in the 2nd end Danish skip Kenneth Ørbaek had few good options, facing 4 with his last rock. He could have tried a runback of his own stone near the house and centre line, which had he hit it would have at least cut down on the damage. He chose a wide come-around that went through the house.

Webcast times don't work very well for those of us in the Pacific time zone, but anyone watching who cares to send in a report is very welcome.

It had snowed and froze before Day 2 and despite conscientious wheel cleaning efforts, the occasional rock would hit a piece of the gravel from the paths outside; just one of the worries for ice-makers Jorgen Larsen and local assistant Mika Ollikainen.

Standings after Draw 5

Italy           5 - 0
China         4 - 0
Russia        4 - 1
Switzerland 3 - 2
Japan         2 - 2
Finland       1 - 3
Slovakia      1 - 4
Denmark     0 - 4
Latvia         0 - 4

Line scores from the games are available HERE. Click on date.

A live webcast from Sheet B can be seen HERE

Monday, November 8, 2010

Jaqui Kapinowski, Team USA lead, is 3rd in NY marathon

 [photo - TOM SPADER - APP.com]
Team USA lead Jaqui Kapinowski finished 3rd fastest of the women competing in the hand-cycle division of the NY City Marathon yesterday, finishing the 26+ mile course in 2.14.04.

You can read a feature article about Jaqui HERE

Jaqui also has her own website.

Worlds Qualifying - Day 2

Team Italy's Edigio Marchese has led his team to a 3-0 start

[Photo: Finnish Curling Association/Katja Kiiskinen]

Hosts Finland, who had a bye in the opening draw when France were unable to compete, faced Switzerland in Draw 2 of Worlds Qualifying. They gave up a steal of 2 in the 1st then exchanged 2's for Swiss 3's, losing 9-6.

Russia opened with 4 stolen points against Slovakia, then saw their lead disappear into a two point deficit as Slovakia stole singles in four consecutive ends. Russia took 2 in the 8th and stole a 7-6 win with a single in an extra end.

Denmark posted their second loss despite steals in the first 3 ends against Italy, who recovered from 5-3 down after 6, by stealing a 6-5 win.

Japan had a comfortable 10-3 win over Latvia and China had a bye.

In the afternoon session hosts Finland, despite spotting Latvia to a 5 point lead, all on steals, stole the last four ends to win 7-5. Latvia looked as though they would pull out a win down one in the 8th, with a spectacular double raise. But Finnish skip Tuomo Aarnikka managed a freeze with his final stone and Aleksandrs Dimbovkis' last rock draw went two centimeters too far to force an extra end.

Italy continued their perfect start with a win over Slovakia, 8-5. Behind by three after two ends, they drew level on two impressive last stones by stand-in skip Edigio Marchese in the 3rd, and earned their win without the hammer.

Team Russia - Andrey Smirnov

[Photo: Finnish Curling Association/Katja Kiiskinen]

Russia found themselves down one without hammer after 7 ends against favoured Switzerland, but with a steal of one in the 8th and another in the extra, posted a 9-8 win.

China had a comfortable 10-2 win over Denmark. Japan, scheduled to play France, had a bye. The French team, though disappointed not to be playing, have remained in Lohja and are enjoying the experience of watching international level wheelchair curling.

Denmark's Jorgen Larsen is the ice-maker, and ice on the second day, with the arena slightly less cold, was a little quicker and still with plenty of curl. Teams appear happy with the ice conditions.

Table after 3 draws

Italy           3 - 0
China         2 - 0
Russia        2 - 1
Switzerland 2 - 1
Finland       1 - 1
Japan         1 - 1
Slovakia      1 - 2
Denmark     0 - 3
Latvia         0 - 3

Full results can be found HERE. Click on the date to see line scores.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Worlds Qualifying underway in Finland - France withdraws

Ten teams hoped to compete in the Worlds Qualifying tournament in Lohja, Finland, for the final two places at the 2011 Worlds in Prague next February. However, a surprise ruling by the French Federation for Ice Sports (FFSG) meant that France has withdrawn, and their game against hosts Finland was declared void.

France were apparently caught  in a legal dispute between the French Curling Association and the FFSG and were unable to produce the required "permission to compete" form prior to the tournament starting, and therefore had to withdraw.

Those allowed to play include three teams (Japan, Italy and Switzerland) who competed at Vancouver Paralympics, plus China who were at the last Worlds, Vancouver 2009.

Italy lost their experienced skip, Andrea Tabanelli, who had to return to Italy today. Edigio Marchese moved up to skip and alternate Emanuale Spelorzi played 2nd. Despite the rearrangement, Italy took 2 in the final end to overcome Russia in a slugfest that saw 3's scored in 6 of the 8 ends. Marat Romanov is skipping and throwing 3rd stones for Russia in a change from the website listing.

Japan had won a warm-up tournament at Wetzikon (SUI) but started cold against China who raced out to a 5-1 lead after 3, with steals of two in the 2nd and the 3rd ends. Japan came back wth three in the 4th, but never quite caught up; their two in the final end leaving them on the short end of a 7-6 result. Japan's skip at the Paralympics, Yoji Nakajima, had been registered as alternate, but played 3rd.

Denmark attempted to steal their way back into the match against Switzerland but failed to overcome the  5 points stolen by the Swiss, losing 9-6. The Danes were the only team throwing from the rings rather than the hogline, as Scotland throw under Coach Pendreigh. Denmark's coach is Per Christensen who was in charge of Team Norway last season.

Slovakia registered their first World level win, breaking Latvia's promising start by taking 5 in the fifth and then stealing their way home to an 11-3 victory.

Ice conditions for the only draw of the day were consistent and swingy, but heavy. Hog to hog draw times were 12.5 seconds, and the ice makers hope to quicken the ice for subsequent draws. Heavy ice meant that most of the front end play across the sheets was in front of the house.

The better teams at the Paralympics were calling for front stones into the rings, so we'll see whether quicker ice or changed tactics make a difference as the week continues.

Line scores from the games are available HERE.

A live webcast from Sheet B can be seen HERE

Friday, November 5, 2010

Who's going to qualify in Lohja, Finland?

Several people have added their honed judgements/wild guesses to the comments at the bottom of the World Wheelchair Qualifying Tournament post.

Add yours, and if you include your name you can bask in glory when you're proven right. 

Here's links to the last Qualifying tournament, Prague 2008, the 2009 Worlds, and the 2010 Paralympics.

2008 was the year Germany qualified and went on to win a bronze medal at the 2009 Worlds after leading the round robin all week.

It was also the year China emerged on the world stage. They performed creditably at the 2009 Worlds, tying for 5th in the round robin, and 8th post-tie break. That's normally good enough to return at the following championship, but with 2011 host Czech Republic taking a slot, the bottom three teams rather than the bottom two at the 2009 Worlds had to re-qualify.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tom Killin and James Brown repeat win at GB National Pairs

Tom Killin and James Brown
(photo of 2009 victory courtesy of Bob Cowan)

The Star Refrigeration National Pairs Championship took place in Braehead, Sctland, last weekend. Twenty-three teams entered and played in four groups.

Games were five ends, each player throwing just three stones per end. Top finishers in their groups played a "high road" semi-final and final, while those finishing second played a "low road" semi-final and final.

2009 champions Tom Killin and James Brown faced Aileen Neilsen and Alison Cloudesley for the trophy, and despite giving up 4 in the 3rd, won with a steal in the 5th and another in the extra end 6th for a 5-4 victory.

In the consolation bracket Mike Mckenzie and Steve Sutherland beat Ian Donaldson and Brian Douglas 7-2, stealing the last three ends.

There is lots of information on the RCCC website with draws and scores, but not who played with the skips - needlessly thrifty, I'd say.