Friday, January 30, 2009

Regional playoff required for Ontario Provincials

Ottawa's curlers have been told by the Ontario Curling Association that the decision to allow only one team per region will stand, necessitating a Region 1 playoff.

Ottawa skip Bruce Cameron argued in a comment to an earlier post that wheelchair curlers should have been treated as in every other level of curling in Ontario, with two entries allowed per region. Excluding people, he argued, is "very frustrating when we, with the exception of the OCA, are trying to expand our sport."

The playoff between Richard Fraser and Bruce Cameron, both representing the RA Centre in Ottawa, will be a best of three eight-end games played at the RA Centre in Ottawa. Game 1 Sat Feb. 5:00pm, Game 2 Sun Feb.8 9:00am and Game 3 (if necessary) Sun. Feb 8 3:00pm. The winner will join Chris Rees (Toronto) Ken Gregory (Bradford) and Don Bell (London) for the Dominion Ontario Provincials to be played at the Royal Kingston CC from February 25-27,2009.

2009 MEDIchair No. Ontario Provincials begin February 1st

The inaugural N. Ontario Provincial Championship, sponsored by MEDIchair, will be held at the Fort William CC from Sunday February 1st through 3rd. Three teams will compete for the right to travel to the Nationals in Nova Scotia at the end of March.

Richard Dawid and Carl Levesque will skip teams out of the host club and will be challenged by a Kenora rink skipped by Wayne Ficek.

“This is a proud moment in Northern Ontario curling history,” says Northern Ontario Curling Association President Al Gemmell. “We are very pleased to include wheelchair curling in our schedule and look forward to its growth across Northern Ontario.”

This will be Northern Ontario's second appearance at the Nationals. In 2008 the selected team skipped by Carl Levesque finished a very creditable 3-4. Team details are HERE and the schedule is HERE. Follow the action at the Fort William CC website.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Valentine's Day Give-It-A-Go session in St. John's

Newfoundland's St. John's CC is hosting an introduction to wheelchair curling on February 14th between 11 am and 5 pm. The club plays at the Remax Centre, a fully wheelchair accessible facility. Paralympic gold medal skip Chris Daw will lead the session, though no word on whether he will be accepting Valentine chocolates or kisses.

"This introductory clinic is aimed at anyone in the province who wishes to participate in wheelchair curling and will help build our provincial program," he said. Email Chris Daw at for more information.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Quebec comes to Ottawa - the result a 16 ender

Two yellow!

Denis Grenier, Donny Stinson, Richard Fraser, Jacques Martin,
Claire Argo, Joanna Bos, Johanne Daly, Benoit Lessard

The Lennoxville CC, a newly formed team keen to get in as much practice as possible before the nationals, drove through a snow storm to take on the two Ottawa teams last Sunday. They beat both Team Cameron and Team Fraser, and the 4th end of the Fraser match ended with all 16 rocks in the rings.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ontario Provincials entry deadline is January 30th

Registration for the Ontario Provincials closes January 30th and the Provincial Association had decided that only four teams would be allowed to compete, one from each region. A regional playoff would take place February 7-8 if more than one team from a region applied.

The four team Provincials limit is controversial and seen by some Ottawa curlers, who have the potential to field two teams, as being unnecessarily restrictive. Tom Ward of the Ontario Curling Association says that no decision has been made about what would happen if there were more than two entries from a region yet less than five total. "We'll wait to see how many applications there are before deciding," he told me.

BC, in organizing their first Provincial Championship this year, initially expected to use a traditional regional structure, but abandoned it in the spirit of maximizing participation in the championship. In the end only Team Austgarden in the four team field was drawn from the same region.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Windsor CC in Nova Scotia now fully accessible

The Windsor CC has been rebuilt and is now fully wheelchair accessible. Club President Rae Winkelaar told Christy Marsters of the Hants Journal that having a curling club that is accessible is great for demonstrating to other clubs that this can be done.  “And, for others in wheelchairs, to be exposed to the fact this is something that’s possible… people can now see how others curl in wheelchairs,” Winkelaar said.  [read full article]

The club held a demonstration day last weekend and hopes to attract enough wheelchair users to form their own club team. Wheelchair curling in Nova Scotia has been centred in Lower Sackville, host to the 2009 Canadian Championships.

Team USA training in Abbotsford BC Feb 16-19

Team USA will be training at the Abbotsford CC before attending the 2009 Nationals. They will finish with an open demonstration match at 6.45 pm on February 18th.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Reports of Team BC alternate are premature

A report on The Curling News blog that Sonja Gaudet had been selected as the alternate on Team BC for the 2009 Canadian Nationals appears premature. Team BC skip Jim Armstrong tells me that a final decision has not been made about who will be the alternate if in fact CurlBC's budget allows for one.

Jim Shannon 1946-2009 R.I.P.

Jim Shannon - Team BC skip 
and National Championship silver medalist 2005 and 2006

Jim Shannon, one of the athletes instrumental in establishing wheelchair curling in BC, has died in Vancouver after a long illness. He is survived by his parents Melvin and Beryl Shannon, his daughter Aubrey and his sister Joyce. He was 62.

His daughter said: "Jim was born in Medicine Hat on Sept 26 1946. He grew up in a curling family. He absolutely loved wheelchair curling. He died on January 15 2009. He courageously battled his aliments until the day he died in the hopes of regaining his independence and getting back to the curling rink. He also has been a long time volunteer at Pearson Centre, coordinating the karaoke group there, going on most weekends to involve the residents in his love of karaoke."

A memorial Service will be held from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 21st at George Pearson Hospital, 719 West 59th Avenue, Vancouver. On-line condolences may be expressed at or a comment left below.

Jim skipped BC to consecutive silver medals at the 2005 and 2006 National Championships, and was the alternate on the team that won gold at the 2007 Championship even while he had curtailed his time on the ice because of illness.

Team mate Darryl Neighbour credited his start in the sport to Jim. “Jim Shannon inspired me and asked me to come out and try it," he said. Darryl is now playing 3rd for Team Canada.

A fixture at events at the Marpole and Richmond CC, Jim was recognised in 2005 with an award for his service in promoting wheelchair curling.

He will be missed. 

Local press covers BC Provincials

Click HERE for a report from the Prince George Citizen and HERE for a report from the Vernon Morning Star.

Duluth beat Thunder Bay using rolling delivery

A team from Duluth MN beat a team from Thunder Bay 9-2  in the first ever cross border wheelchair curling club challenge match in Grand Marais, MN. The game was remarkable for the fact that the Minnesota players used a rolling rather than a stationary delivery.

Duluth team member Shawn Corbin explained his surprise to discover that WCF rules insist that delivery be from a stationary wheelchair, as he had become used to manipulating both rock and chair towards the hogline before release. He felt that his method had considerable advantages, and saw no reason why the rules should not allow for it.

I will post our emails on this subject as a comment below.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

BC playdowns - Vernon January 18th, 2009

2009 BC Provincial Champions

Jim Armstrong, Frank LaBounty
Whitney Warren, Jackie Roy
Silver medalists 2009 BC Provincial Championship

Coach Andy Barnes, Sonja Gaudet
Cyril Kinakin, Ron Vaselenak, Gerry Austgarden
Bronze medalists 2009 BC Provincial Championships
Samantha Sui, Bob McDonald, 
Ina Forrest, Darryl Neighbour

Team Armstrong repeat as BC Champions

Jim Armstrong will be defending his 2008 Canadian Nationals, though this year his team of Frank LaBounty, Whitney Warren and Jackie Roy will have earned the honour on the ice rather than had it handed to them at camp.

In the morning semi-final against Darryl Neighbour, he took 4 in the 1st and ran out a 9-6 win that was never as close as the score suggests.

The afternoon final against unbeaten Team Austgarden was a different matter, with play in the four foot almost every end and both teams impressing the spectators with consistent draw weight.

Armstrong stole to a 4-0 lead after 3 ends, Austgarden took 1 and then stole 2 in the 5th when Armstrong's attempt at a last rock save came up inches short of the button. It took a measurement to give Armstrong a steal of 2 in the 7th, and in the final end, down 4, Austgarden had 2 rocks counting in the back of the house with skip stones to play before Armstrong threw a takeout through a narrow port for a decisive hit and a 9-6 win.   

Line scores are at

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Team Sobkowicz defends its Manitoba championship

Dennis Thiessen, Chris Sobkowicz, Michael Alberg, Arlene Ursel

Team Canada 2009 member Chris Sobkowicz successfully defended his Manitoba title winning the opening two games of the best of three playdown against Team Horning.

Chris will take teammates Arlene Ursel, Michael Alberg, Dennis Thiessen and alternate Terry Lindell to Nova Scotia in March where he is sure to face at least one other Team Canada member from BC.

Austgarden wins easy passage to BC final

Gerry Austgarden, dropped from Team Canada 2009, had another two easy wins at the BC playdowns in Vernon, defeating Lindstrom 9-3 in the morning and Armstrong 11-1 in the final round robin draw.
Armstrong beat Neighbour 12-8 in the morning draw, scoring 5 in the 5th and stealing 4 in the 6th. Neighbour faced the other 0-2 team Lindstrom for a semi-final chance. He stole 5 early points but squeaked home 7-6 after giving up 3 in the final end. Line scores at

Armstrong faces Neighbour at 8.30am in the morning semi-final with the winner playing Austgarden at 1.30.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Austgarden and Armstrong win in Draw 1 of BC playdown

Gerry Austgarden beat Darryl Neighbour 9-4 in the first draw of the BC playdowns in Vernon. He went out to an early 4 point lead, Neighbour, with 2 in the 3rd and a steal of 1 in the 4th, pulled to within 1 at the half-way point but gave up a game settling 3 in the 5th.

Jim Armstrong, defending BC and National Champion, beat Lindstrom 6-3 with a 3 in the 6th end proving decisive. Line scores at

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sonja Gaudet profiled in preview of BC playdowns

Sonja Gaudet braced by Gerry Austgarden
curling for gold in Torino 2006

The Vernon Morning Star profiles local Paralympian and 2009 Team Canada alternate Sonja Gaudet as she prepares to play lead for Gerry Austgarden in the BC playdowns this weekend. [read article]

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

BC playdown details on

With six of the 8 person Team Canada squad spread over the four teams competing for the right to represent BC at the Nationals in March, there may be more than casual interest in who wins this playdown. Jim Armstrong will be skipping the same team that won last year's national championship. Teams and schedule available at

Saskatchewan provincial selection camp January 24th

Anyone wishing to be considered for selection to the Saskatchewan team must attend the camp on January 24th at the Callie CC in Regina. Contact Amber Holland at the Saskatchewan Curling Association office. Phone: 306-780-9202 or e-mail:

7th Annual Pat "O" Reid Memorial Bonspiel on Valentines Day

The Toronto Wheelchair Curling Group is putting on the spiel on February 14th at the Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club. Open format, teams and individuals welcome to two games and a dinner. Details HERE (Word doc)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Germany keep winning, take 3rd Annual Identa Cup

Germany won the 3rd Annual Identa Cup, held this past weekend in Schwenningen, Germany, heading a 10 team field with 8 points from 5 games. The field included the Italian, Swiss and Slovakian national teams as well a team from the Czech Republic and domestic teams from Switzerland and Italy.

Germany put on an impressive performance at the 2009 Worlds Qualifying tournament, losing only to fellow qualifiers China in the 9 game round robin. (See posts for November 19/20 2008) It will be interesting to see how they match up with the more established teams at the Worlds starting February 21st in Vancouver.

No. Ontario and BC holding playdowns for Nationals

Wheelchair curling is thriving in Northern Ontario with more than two dozen active players at clubs in Thunder Bay, Kenora and Dryden. Three competitive teams are expected for the first ever playdown to choose the 2009 provincial representative February 1-3  at the Fort William CC in Thunder Bay.

BC holds it's first ever playdown this weekend in Vernon. Four teams have registered and play begins Friday evening with the final set for 1.30pm Sunday January 18. Jim Armstrong will return with his 2008 National Champion team, but will face tough competition as each of the challengers include current Team Canada squad members. (see post 12/20/2008)

Chris is baaack! Daw to skip at 2009 Nationals

Long-time Team Canada skip Chris Daw will have recovered from a serious hip injury in time to skip Newfoundland/Labrador team at the 2009 Nationals at the end of March.

The team was formed this season with athletes who bring considerable outside competitive experience to the ice. Darlene Jackman and Joanne MacDonald are Paralympians, Lanie Woodfine is an accomplished road racer, and Felix Green has represented the province at multiple sports.  The team has an experienced coach in Leslie Ann Walsh, herself a Mixed provincial champion.

The team plays out of the Remax Centre in Saint John's, a fully wheelchair accessible facility, right down to the scoreboards. Read full press release HERE (pdf)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Manitoba playdown, Atlantic select and Canada train

This weekend will be busy from coast to coast. Team Canada holds a closed training camp in Richmond BC, while on the east coast the Atlantic provinces are holding an open training camp in Lower Sackville, NS, with anyone interested invited to participate. Coaches Helen Radford, Leslie Ann Walsh, and Chris Daw will supervise both a high performance camp and exhibition games, after which team selection for Nova Scotia and Newfoundland/Labrador will be announced.

In Manitoba two teams will compete in a playoff to determine the provincial representative. The 2008 Team Manitoba will hope to repeat as champions, skipped this year by 2009 Team Canada member Chris Sobkowicz, with Dennis Thiessen, Michael Alberg, Arlene Ursel, and with Terry Lindell as alternate. Their challengers are George Horning (Skip), Richard Dudek (3rd), Don Kalinski (2nd) and Effie Loubardias (Lead).