Thursday, March 31, 2011

Video from the 2011 World Championships in Prague

This video features scenes from the 2011 World Wheelchair Curling Championships in Prague last February.

It was posted to the Czech Wheelchair Curling Facebook page.

USA lead Jaqui Kapinowski announces retirement

Team USA lead Jaqui Kapinowski has announced her retirement from wheelchair curling.

In an email sent to friends and supporters she said that though it was a very difficult decision, she had decided it was time for her to return the support of her husband over the past 20 years of a sports career covering wheelchair athletics and curling, by making a permanent move to their home in Florida.

"Please know how much I truly care for each of you, everyone has been so supportive over these years.  Marc (Deperno), I owe you so much for getting me involved in this sport. It has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.  I want to end by thanking the USCA for their sponsorship & most of all the friends I made.....  I'm truly sorry, I love you guys so much!"

Jaqui joined Team USA in 2007 and earned a bronze medal as lead at the 2008 World Championships. A performance drop-off at the 2011 Worlds was in part due to her difficulty in finding practice ice time. She maintains an interest in wheelchair marathons and rowing.

Her retirement opens the door for Wisconsin's Penny Greely, who was Team USA's 5th player at the 2011 Worlds.

Scot Aileen Neilson scoops two more awards

 Aileen Neilson and partner Michael McCreadie
on their way to winning their 2011 Scottish championship
photo - Bob Cowan

Scottish skip Aileen Neilson scooped up two more awards at the East Kilbride Sports Personality Awards ceremony last week. “This is a proud moment for me and my family and it was very special to have my partner Michael McCreadie, my mum Daisy and my sister Libby Marshall all there to see me collect the awards," she told the East Kilbride News.

Aileen won in the adult female category, then was declared overall winner.

You can read a full report HERE

Weekly poll #12 - What does it cost to curl?

Ernie Comerfod wrote wondering what wheelchair curlers paid to curl. In Ontario, he said, you could not compete in their provincial championships without being a paid-up member of an affiliated curling club.

In London that meant $50 a year, without playing in any of the club's leagues. At the Toronto Cricket and Curling Club, the fees are $1,000 including league play. In Ottawa there's a $10 weekly charge.

In Kelowna signing up for a league costs around $300 with discounts for more than one league, and practice ice is free. When we had a wheelchair program the club donated a sheet for our use so there was no charge for someone to try it out.

So this week's poll question, and the last of this season - how much did you pay in club and affiliation fees to curl last season? Please press the radio button on the right side bar that most closely matches your experience, and add your thoughts and personal experience on costs and payments to the comments below.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Championship Awards and the shot(s) of the week

There were no official stats taken at this year's Nationals, so each team was balloted for their choice of the best players at each position.

The winners were:

Mike Fitzgerald - Nova Scotia skip

Dennis Thiessen - Manitoba 3rd

Trendal Hubley-Bolivar - Nova Scotia 2nd

Debbie Earle - Nova Scotia lead

The Sportsmanship Award went to Frank LaBounty - BC

with an honourable mention to Joanne MacDonald - Newfoundland-Labrador.

There were many fine shots played throughout the week, but none better than this.

Should team selection be the model for Canadian curling Olympians?

Do we want regular curling to emulate wheelchair curling's selection model for Olympic representation?

Bill Tschirhart, in a post on his blog, suggests that selecting a small group of individuals to train for Olympic competition is the way to ensure Olympic medal success for Canada. He cites the success of Canada's wheelchair curling team as a model; concentrating training resources on a small number of individuals, just as perforce happens in countries where there are only a very small number of curlers to start with.

He is of course speaking from the perspective of a high performance coach, indeed a coach working at the National Training Centre where this proposed select group would spend three years preparing to win an Olympic medal.

Bill's perspective on Olympic success: the job would be a lot easier if there weren't so many pesky curlers in Canada. Well, Bill, if you look at wheelchair curling you have that answer too. Selection for the national wheelchair team has removed a major recruiting tool. Participation has not grown significantly in the last three or four years, and at this year's Nationals, leaving aside the invited host team, there were only four rookie players; that's players, not teams.

Canadian high performance coaches, and I put the CCA's Gerry Peckham at the head of that group, have a perspective that answers to the demands of funders; we'll give you money if you give us medals. And if medals equated to the health of a sport as measured by participation, I would have no objection.

But moving to selection will kill the spirit that underpins curling, kill the dream however unrealistic for any one individual in practice, that through your own motivation and effort you can aspire to represent your country. In Bill and Gerry's world, only individuals they approve of can hope to fulfil that dream.

Wheelchair curling was always to be a stalking horse for athlete selection throughout the sport, which is why some of us objected so passionately about it even when it appeared to make logistical sense. 

But before you hold up Canada's wheelchair team as a model for selection, understand that it presently relies on a skip who has played for over 40 years and at the highest Canadian (Brier) level. Competitive wheelchair curling is not yet ten years old, and has only in the past couple of years understood that it is not curling without sweeping, and that it needs a strategy all of its own.
I gauge the success of a sport not by medals won, but by participation. If we want to see curling, and wheelchair curling grow, we should not allow its development to be directed from the too narrow perspective of the high performance coach.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Manitoba take 2011 Canadian title 8-7 over Alberta

Team Manitoba 2011 National Champions
Chris Sobkowicz, Dennis Thiessen, Linda Lecuyer, George Horning, Dan Kalinsky

Coach Rob Lamb

There had to be a first time national champion after this afternoon's final of the 2011 Canadian National Championships in Edmonton, as home province favourites Alberta hoped to improve on the 2009 silver medal against Manitoba, winners of the bronze for the past three years.

In a very closely fought contest, Chris Sobkowicz led his team to an 8-7 win over the team led by Bruno Yizek, the man who replaced him on Team Canada.

Alberta entered the final with the confidence of knowing they had handled Manitoba 6-4 in the round robin. They took a single with hammer in the 1st but gave up 2 in the 2nd when Manitoba executed a couple of good draws, tapping an Alberta stone back for the second point. Alberta capitalised on a Manitoba miss, Sobkowicz's attempted draw crashing on front stones, leaving Yizek an open draw for a third point to go ahead 4-2 in the third.

A series of freezes by both skips gives Manitoba a single to pull within 1 at the break, and in the 5th Alberta's attempt to draw through a pile of rocks pushed a second Manitoba stone into scoring position allowing a steal of 2.

In the 6th Bruno's last rock was just heavy enough to count for a second point to regain the lead 6-5.

While it is generally accepted that hits are easier to execute in wheelchair curling than draws, games are won on a skip's draw weight more often than their hits. It was Chris' draw to the four foot for a third and decisive point in the 7th end that decided the final.

In the 8th Alberta, down two, had shot rock and a chance to win when Chris' first rock flashed allowing Alberta an open hit to lay 3. But Chris' last shot was perfect, a hit and roll to sit second shot buried. An inch less and he flashes, an inch thicker and the Manitoba stone rolls over the top of the Alberta 2nd shot stone and Bruno would have had an open draw for 3 and the win.

With his final stone Bruno came up inches short, attempting a tap-back on the buried Manitoba stone to score three and get the win.

“It was a draw for a tie and, if I was just a hair heavy, then a tap would maybe have been enough for us to get three,” Yizek told the Edmonton Journal.

Alberta could only score one, losing 8-7 to a Manitoba team who had to beat all three teams in the Page playoffs to win their first national title.

1     Manitoba              10 - 2
2     Alberta                9 - 2 
3     Nova Scotia            8 - 3    
4     BC                     6 - 4    
5     Northern Ontario       4 - 5    
6     Host Team - Alberta    4 - 5    
7     Saskatchewan           3 - 6   
8     Quebec                 3 - 6   
9     Ontario                2 - 7    
10    Newfoundland-Labrador  0 - 9

photo Lisa Samchuk

There are full lines scores and tables in our 2011 Worlds section of our website.

Manitoba beat Nova Scotia to advance to National final

Manitoba avenged their round robin defeat by Nova Scotia, stealing the three points that were the difference in their 6-3 semi-final win at the Canadian National Championships in Edmonton.

Nova Scotia, as leaders after round robin play, opened with hammer and took a single in the first. Manitoba had a draw for 2 in the second but came up light and had to settle for 1.

In the 3rd Nova Scotia attempts a tick to prevent a steal but just misses and then blanks the 4th to go into the break down 2-1.

In the 5th Nova Scotia make a hit to score 2 and have a lucky escape when Manitoba's draw for a third point in the 6th end hits a guard. Their luck doesn't hold as they give up a steal of 2 in the 7th and are then run out of stones as Manitoba win 6-3.

Nova Scotia  *  1 0 0 0 2 0 0 x - 3
Manitoba        0 1 1 0 0 2 2 x - 6

Manitoba now plays Alberta in the final and are guaranteed their best result at a National Championship. Alberta need to win to improve on their 2009 performance.

You can see results, line scores and schedule in our 2011 Canadian Nationals coverage on our website

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Manitoba bring an end to era of BC dominance

BC's Gary Cormack and Manitoba's Chris Sobkowicz
photo by Kevin Malinowski

BC had won every National Championship since 2006, when Team Canada stopped competing, and last year monopolised the final with their Host Team beating their Provincial Champions.

 BC's Alison Duddy, Frank LaBounty and Vince Miele looking relaxed before the game
photo by Kevin Malinowski
This year they have found it tougher to compete against the better sides, losing to each of the three teams above them in the table after round robin play.

A Manitoba point by a measure in the 1st
photo by Kevin Malinowski
Manitoba, who have collected bronze medals at the last three National Championships, had BC's number in an 8-1 win earlier in the week but it took a measurement in the first to give Manitoba their single as they opened with hammer in the 3/4 Page playoff game at the Canadian National Wheelchair Curling Championships in Edmonton.

BC skip Gary Cormack
photo by Kevin Malinowski
In the second Manitoba drew to their own stone in the four foot and BC skip Gary Cormack's attempt to clear, jammed, giving up a steal of 1.

In the 3rd, Manitoba skip Chris Sobkowicz hit and stuck in the four foot, and BC's takeout attempt flashed to allow Manitoba to add another single point steal. BC finally opened their account with a draw for a single point, to go into the break down 3-1.

The 5th saw BC narrow the gap to 3-2 when Manitoba were narrow with their final stone, hitting the guard to allow BC their first stolen point.

Manitoba skip Chris Sobkowicz
photo by Kevin Malinowski
Manitoba opened the game up in the 6th, drawing for a 3rd point and a 6-2 lead. In the 7th BC took two when Manitoba wrecked on a guard attempting an open hit, to give them a chance in the final end down 6-4. It was a small chance and though they finished with a rock on the pin, it wasn't enough and Manitoba did not have to throw heir last rock to win.

Manitoba  *  1 1 1 0 0 3 0 x - 6
BC           0 0 0 1 1 0 2 x - 4

Tomorrow's semi-final between Nova Scotia and Manitoba begins at 9.30am - the winner playing Alberta in the final at 2pm while the loser is awarded the bronze medal.

You can see results, line scores and schedule in our 2011 Canadian Nationals coverage on our website

Alberta beat Nova Scotia to advance to final of Canadian Nationals

 NS skip Mike Fitzgerald and AB skip Bruno Yizek
Calgary based Team Alberta, many people's favourites to win this year's Canadian National Wheelchair Championships in Edmonton, lost just one game during round robin play - 6-3 to Mike Fitzgerald's Nova Scotia rink. This afternoon saw a rematch in the Page Playoff 1 vs 2 game.

Nova Scotia put lots of rocks into the house in the opening end, but missed a hit "for a bundle" as described by a relieved Andy Jones, Alberta coach, his team opening the scoring with a stolen point.

In the second skip Mike Fitzgerald executes a tap to score 2, and when  Alberta skip Bruno Yizek's attempted double to score two in the third, jams, Nova Scotia adds to their lead - 3-1.

In the 4th, Bruno is light on his last rock draw allowing another stolen point for a 4-1 Nova Scotia lead at the break. "Nova Scotia are playing really well," admits Jones, "but our team are still confident and positive."

 Bruno Yizek
That confidence was not misplaced as Bruno executes a cold draw for a second point in the 5th, and the next end sees Mike Fitzgerald's attempted hit for 2, crash on a guard allowing Alberta a steal to tie the game at 4-4.

Nova Scotia faced a house full of Alberta stones in the 7th. With Alberta lying 6 and with 4 in the 4 foot, Fitzgerald pulled out a game saving double and stick to limit the damage to a steal of 2.

Down by two in the 8th end, and in deep time trouble, Fitzgerald is forced to hurry Nova Scotia's final stone attempt to score a second point. He flashes, leaving Alberta the winners 6-5.

Nova Scotia * 0 2 1 1 0 0 0 1 - 5
Alberta       1 0 0 0 2 1 2 0 - 6

You can see results, line scores and schedule in our 2011 Canadian Nationals coverage on our website

Friday, March 25, 2011

Chris Sobkowicz wins Nationals "draw" contest

The $1,000 cash prize donated by R. Vallee Home Rentals for the player who could cover the pin with a hammer deciding draw to the button went unclaimed. Manitoba skip Chris Sobkowicz won the $200 consolation prize for the closest throw

His draw finished 3.3cm from the pin.

Runner-up was BC 3rd Frank LaBounty.

For readers unfamiliar with wheelchair curling, that's without benefit of sweepers.

All team members had to throw a hammer deciding draw at least once during the 9 game round robin.

Canadian Nationals - Day 5 final round robin draw

Full line scores and statistics and tables for the 9th and final round robin draw are available on our website.

BC skip Gary Cormack braced by Vince Miele
With the the top three playoff slots decided after the morning draw. just one of this afternoon's matches had playoff implications as Northern Ontario challenged 4th place BC in hopes of forcing a tie-break rematch tomorrow morning.

Northern Ontario had BC on the ropes early as they raced to a 5-1 lead at the break with successive steals in ends 3 and 4. But BC closed the gap to 1 after five ends and then stole to a 7-5 lead. Northern Ontario could only manage a single in the 8th and their hopes for a Saturday second chance disappeared; BC the winners, 7-6.

 Alberta's Anne Hibberd braced by Martin Purvis
The other game that attracted a crowd of 86 spectators was the head to head match-up of the two Alberta teams, both coming off painful morning losses. This event was the first time the Edmonton team had played at the Nationals, though skip Nuspl had appeared as an alternate last year for the Calgary provincial champions.

But for a couple of agonising defeats where Host Team let big leads slip away in the final end, the Host Team would have already claimed Saturday play; so they approached the game with some confidence they could hold their own, if not cause an upset.

It wasn't to be as Alberta stole in all six ends before shaking hands with the score 10-0. The win put Alberta into the 1 vs 2 game and guaranteed them at least a bronze medal.

Nova Scotia lead Debbie Earle
photo - Andrew Pizzinato 
Nova Scotia had never managed a plus 500 record in three previous trips to the Nationals; their best mark a 4-5 record in 2010. Having clawed past Alberta this morning they were not going to allow their place in the 1 vs 2 playoff game slip away. They were 5-0 up on Saskatchewan after 3 and finished a cautious game 6-4 winners to hold onto the top spot.

Manitoba 2nd George Horning with Dennis Thiessen
photo - Andrew Pizzinato

Manitoba remained in 3rd place with a 8-2 defeat of winless Newfoundland-Labrador. Lanie Woodfine was again unable to play and local David Graves from the reserve player pool filled in for their last three games.

Ontario 2nd Alec Denys braced by Carl Baxphoto - Andrew Pizzinato
Ontario beat Quebec 8-2. Both teams came in with high hopes of making the playoffs and will leave wondering where it all went wrong. Quebec, after the upsets of 2010 and the refashioning of their team, did not improve their record. And Chris Rees is the third successive Ontario skip to fail to reach the playoffs.

Play resumes Saturday with the page playoff 1 vs 2 game featuring Nova Scotia and Alberta scheduled for 1.30pm and the 3 vs 4 game between Manitoba and BC starting at 6.30pm.

Sunday's semi-final is at 9.30 AM and the final is at 2PM. There will not be a bronze medal game. The bronze will be awarded to the losing semi-finalist.

There were no individual player stats taken at this year's championship (coaches may have kept their personal record) so the All-Star team will be chosen by team ballot. Each team has been asked to put forward their choice of best player at each position to decide the All-Star Awards.

Canadian Nationals Day 5 - Draw 8 - Nova Scotia topple Alberta

Full line scores and statistics and tables are available on our website.

Alberta and Nova Scotia, the top two teams at this year's Canadian National Championships in Edmonton, faced off this morning in a game that will likely decide who finishes in first place after round robin play.

Nova Scotia 2nd Trendal Hubley-Bolivar
photo - Bevan Sauks.
Nova Scotia had the better of the game from the outset, though an unfortunate error by one of the volunteers meant that one of their rocks, which was to have been measured for a second point, was removed. By rule Nova Scotia had the option of taking their single or replaying the end. They took the point, and continued with another steal in the 2nd. A 3 just before the break for a 5-1 lead led to a comment of "impressive draw weight" by Alberta coach Andy Jones.

Nova Scotia continued the pressure with a steal of a single in the 5th for a 6-1 lead and though Alberta scored in ends 6 and 7, they saw their unbeaten record slip away 6-3 when their attempt to lay 3 failed and Nova Scotia were not forced to throw their last rock.

Host Team substitute Marie Laframboise 
photo - Andrew Pizzinato
Manitoba guaranteed their playoff spot by denting the Host Team's ambitions with an 8-6 win. The game was not without its drama though as Hosts fought back from an 8-1 deficit. just as Korea had done against Canada at the Paralympics final. Hosts face Alberta in the final draw, and must win and BC lose for a chance at a tie-break. Host Team lead Shawna Walsh was unable to play, and was replaced by Marie Laframbois from the player pool.

Saskatchewan's skip Darwin Bender
photo - Bevan Sauks.
Quebec's late run fizzled in a loss to Saskatchewan 7-4. Their playoff hopes died when they gave up a steal of 3 in the 7th. BC, the only top four team in real danger at the start of play, crushed Ontario 13-3. They posted 3's with hammer and stole 4 in the 6th and final end.

Northern Ontario 3rd Mark Wherrett 
photo - Bevan Sauks.
Newfoundland-Labrador, who came so agonisingly close to their first win last night, were unable to maintain their momentum, losing 9-1 to Northern Ontario, who can force a tie-break if they beat BC in the afternoon draw. 

Results after Draw 8 of 9

Nova Scotia        7 1
Alberta            7 1

Manitoba           6 2
British Columbia   5 3
Northern Ontario   4 4
Host Team          4 4
Saskatchewan       3 5
Quebec             3 5
Ontario            1 7
NFLD and Labrador  0 8

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Canadian Nationals Day 4 - Draw 7 - Alberta remain in control

Full line scores and statistics and tables are available on our website.

There is a player pool of local players available to fill in if a team loses a member, which happened this evening when NL's lead, Lanie Woodfine was unable to play and the team did not have an alternate.

David Graves, who is a member of the local club, played in her place.

David Graves - sub Newfoundland-Labrador
photo - Andrew Pizzinato
It took seven games for Newfoundland-Labrador to gain their first lead, a two against the hammer playing the Host Team. It soon dissolved into a 5-2 deficit at the break. But this time, rather than fold, Joanne MacDonald rallied her team to another lead, 6-5 after 7. Would this be the shock of the round? Would winless Newfoundland-Labrador, who had not previously managed to post a score in the 8th, beat the local favourites? 

We had to wait for an extra end for the answer as Host Team took their single with hammer to force an extra. There would be no fairytale ending for the visitors as Hosts stole the winning point to keep their playoff hopes alive, and deprive their opponents of that elusive first win.

Unbeaten Alberta were given a scare by Northern Ontario, despite leading by four after two ends. In the third a "rockslide" in front of the house as described by a coach prevented N. Ontario from claiming more than a single. But in the next end a double by N. Ontario and an Alberta miss meant a steal of 2. That was followed by another N. Ontario steal of 2 when Bruno's hit rolled out of the rings.
Alberta 3rd Jack Smart
photo - Bevan Sauks.
In the 6th, a hit for five by Alberta went rogue and Alberta found themselves two back with two to play. N. Ontario failed to close down the 7th end and Bruno drew to the 8 foot to post a game leading 4. Though Northern Ontario attempted a double that "would have troubled Kevin Martin" with their last rock, they scored only 1 and Alberta won 8-7 to remain undefeated at the top of the table.

Nova Scotia 3rd Laughie Rutt
photo - Bevan Sauks
Second place Nova Scotia appeared to be coasting to a comfortable victory over Ontario, ahead 7-1 after five ends. But they had to fight off a come-back from Ontario, who stole 3 in the 7th before being run out of rocks in a 7-5 defeat. The win guarantees Nova Scotia at least a tie-break.

Manitoba 3rd Dennis Thiessen
photo - Bevan Sauks
Manitoba were played tough by Saskatchewan but a steal of 2 in the 7th sealed their 5th win and they need only to win one of their games tomorrow, against the Host Team or Newfoundland-Labrador to be certain of at least a tie-break.

Quebec lead Johanne Daley
photo - Andrew Pizzinato
Quebec have finally found their game, though they may have left it too late. This evening they beat BC, stealing 2 in the 1st and 3 in the 6th before again showing some defensive fragility by allowing a 3 in the 7th letting BC pull within two. Quebec made no mistake in the final end though, closing out a 7-5 win and keeping faint playoff hopes alive. Quebec play two teams (SK and ON) with just 3 wins between them, but they will need help if they are to play Saturday.

Draw 8 matchups - QC - SK /  NO - NL /  ON - BC / AB - NO / MB - HT

Draw 9 matchups - NO - BC / AB - HT /  SK - NS / NL - MB /  QC - ON

Table after 7 Draws

Alberta           7 0
Nova Scotia       6 1
Manitoba          5 2
Host Team         4 3
British Columbia  4 3
Northern Ontario  3 4
Quebec            3 4
Saskatchewan      2 5
Ontario           1 6
NFLD and Labrador 0 7

Canadian Nationals - Day 3 Draw 6 - and then there was one

Full line scores and statistics and tables are available on our website.

Unbeaten Alberta took on in-form Manitoba in this afternoon's Draw 6 of the Canadian Nationals in Edmonton, with the prospect that a win would not only keep them at the top of the table, but secure their playoff spot.

Manitoba lead Melissa Lecuyer
Manitoba took their two with opening hammer and held Alberta to 1 in the 2nd when Bruno Yizek was heavy on his draw for a second point. Manitoba skip Chris Sobkowicz wrecked on a guard in the 3rd allowing a steal of 2 and a couple of perfect draws by Bruno in the 4th saw another steal of two and a 5-2 Alberta lead at the break.

Manitoba lost a potential second point to a measure in the 5th after a last rock double, and Alberta took a single in the 6th on another close measure for a 6-3 lead. Manitoba's draw for a vital second point in the 7th came up short, and they were reduced to a circus shot in the 8th to attempt to bridge the two point gap. It failed, Alberta winning 6-4.

BC lead Alison Duddy
Nova Scotia had their unbeaten record on the line against a BC team who were in danger of losing touch with the leaders. They needn't have worried this afternoon, however, as they held the Bluenosers to a single point in a 6 end 6-1 win.

Ontario lead Shawna Petrie
Ontario continued their dismal run with a 9-6 defeat against Saskatchewan who had a decisive steal of 4 in the 3rd. Both teams entered this afternoon at 1-4. The game was held up for several minutes when Ontario's skip broke his delivery stick. As he has it taped to his hand, it was not just a case of replacing it, and repairs necessitated an official's time out.

Northern Ontario lead Denise Miault
For the first time this week, the local Host Team did not give up a 3 or a 4. They didn't even give up a 2, yet lost a game of singles 5-2 to a very inconsistent Northern Ontario side who stole the first two ends to nose ahead and then played tight the rest of the way.

Newfoundland-Labrador's Darlene Jackman and Felix Green
Quebec managed their second win, over hapless Newfoundland-Labrador 8-1. Newfoundland-Labrador skip Joanne MacDonald held Quebec to singles through five ends but the familiar series of steals continued her winless streak.

Alberta sits alone at the top of the table, and it will need a collapse by Nova Scotia to take away their playoff spot. Both BC and Manitoba, with 4 wins, have two games to play against bottom of the table teams which will make it tough though not impossible for teams with 3 losses to make Saturday play. Teams with 4 losses will need divine intervention.

Table after 6 Draws
Alberta            6 0
Nova Scotia        5 1
British Columbia   4 2
Manitoba           4 2
Host Team          3 3
Northern Ontario   3 3
Quebec             2 4
Saskatchewan       2 4
Ontario            1 5
NFLD and Labrador  0 6

McArthur Island CC in Kamloops to host 2012 BC Provincials

The McArthur Island Curling Centre in Kamloops has been selected to host the 2012 BC Provincials next February 2-5. It is a 6 sheet club within reasonable reach of the Lower Mainland and the Okanagan where most of the province's players live.

BC switched from a selection process to a Provincial Championship in 2009 in Vernon that attracted four teams and the 2010 event in Kimberley saw three teams.

Canadian Nationals - midway recap

An innovation introduced at this year's Canadian Nationals are the coloured tubes, blue and yellow seen in the photo above. They have been placed at each end of the ice to hold equipment, delivery sticks and skips' brooms, not in use. This is a great idea and should be adopted at future events.

The ice has held up well, is keener than many teams will have played on at their home clubs with draws running around 14 seconds hog to hog. There's about 3 feet of swing. Manitoba skip Chris Sobkowicz reported that there was some frost on the edge of the outer sheet when he defeated BC last night.

“You had to believe what you saw and go with it!” he told Lisa Shamchuk, who is writing reports for the CCA's website.

Ontario rookie Alec Denys had led the "cover the pin" $1,000 challenge with a draw that finished 35.8cm from the pin before the start of Draw 2. He was deposed by Frank LaBounty, whose rock before Draw 5 ended just 34.7cm away.
But they both bow to Chris Sobkowicz's 3.3cm at the start of Draw 6

The $1,000 prize has been donated by R. Vallee Home Rentals and will be split if here is a tie. $200 goes to the runner-up.

Despite the relative unfamiliarity with time clocks, there have been few problems. The most frequent complaints are caused by the throwers not moving away after their throw. Until they cede the delivery position to the other side, their clock will continue to run.

The rules state time will continue to run for the delivering team until:

-all stones have stopped
-the moving stones have crossed the back line
- the skip of the delivering team has relinquished the house to their opposing skip
-players from the delivering team have moved to the side.

Players have to get used to not admiring the path of their shots and travel down the side of the sheet, thereby not obstructing their opponent's view, for their clocks to stop. "We're trying to get them to behave as regular curlers do in competition," Head Official Linda Kirton told me.

The teams are playing under the "old" timeout rules, where clocks stop at a called time out, and restart when the coach has had 60 seconds to talk to the team. (Current rules do not stop the clock at coach 'interventions.')

This was a factor in the Draw 4 match between Alberta and BC, played with a lot of rocks in the house and needing an extra end to decide it. Umpires were at the ready to make quick decisions if necessary as both teams ran their clocks close, but were able to use time-outs to ease the pressure.

Bellrose Volunteers
 St Albert's volunteers
Ice Player Assistants (IPAs) have been volunteering from local High Schools (Bellerose High School, St Albert) and doing an excellent job that is greatly appreciated by the curlers, many of whom would not be throwing cleaned rocks without assistance. The students have also been volunteering as meal servers.

Cathy Craig has been juggling 3 hats - club manager, event manager and Host Team coach. Her team would be sitting top of the table had they not twice given up 4's in the 8th ends of games in which they had 7-3 leads, and lost in the extra. They are still on track to make good on her prediction that they would make the playoffs, an extremely impressive performance from a team who have not played against this opposition before.

It's probably no coincidence that local publicity brought out local government inspectors. The club's renovations, completed two years ago, have been inspected, and the fire marshal wanted in on the action to test fire alarms, but was persuaded to wait until the club did not have to test evacuate 50 plus wheelchairs.

photo - Lisa Shamchuk

Each sheet has a ramp

photo - Lisa Shamchuk
and each competitor received some art by Colin Vince
In past events Day 4 is the test of stamina for the teams unused to playing twice a day for three consecutive days. With Draw 6 now under way, we'll see.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Canadian Nationals - Day 3 Draw 5

Full up-to-date results and tables can be found on our website

 Manitoba skip Chris Sobkowicz
all photos on this page by Bevan Sauks
Four teams began the day unbeaten, and with BC and Manitoba both losing their afternoon draws then facing each other this evening, one was going to end the day unhappy. Today was BC's turn as they fell behind from the beginning, allowing a steal of two in the first, before shaking hands after an 8-1 loss in 6 ends.

Alberta skip Bruno Yizek
Alberta played Ontario and a high risk first end with lots of rocks in play paid off for the home side as they stole 2. In the 2nd, back to back doubles by Carl Bax helped Ontario take 3, and it took a draw by Alberta skip Yizek, facing two, to tie the score after 3 ends.

Ontario skip Chris Rees
Ontario skip Rees just missed with an attempted hit to hold Alberta to a single in the 5th and another narrow miss let Alberta steal the winning point in the 6th as the sides swapped singles at the end of the game; Alberta the winner 7-5 and still top of the table.

Nova Scotia skip Mike Fitzgerald
Nova Scotia kept pace with Alberta, beating winless Newfoundland-Labrador 9-5.

Host Team skip Cliff Nuspl
Host Team gave up yet another big end at the end of their game, but this time not before they had put the contest out of Saskatchewan's reach. 8-3 the final.

Quebec skip Benoit Lessard
Quebec had been playing far better than their record suggested and finally posted a win, 8-4 over Northern Ontario who perhaps had not regrouped after beating their southern neighbours this afternoon. Quebec also stole their first ends of the tournament.

Alberta           5 0
Nova Scotia       5 0
Manitoba          4 1
Host Team         3 2
British Columbia  3 2
Northern Ontario  2 3
Ontario           1 4
Quebec            1 4
Saskatchewan      1 4
NFLD and Labrador 0 5