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Saturday, 18 February 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Jim Armstrong will NOT be part of Team Canada for Worlds



Jim Armstrong

The confirmed news is that Jim Armstrong has had to leave Korea. The news broke early this morning that Jim has left Korea.

We have confirmed with Gerry Peckham of the CCA via telephone the following details:

Gerry: "Jim was in Korea but due to personal circumstances he has had to return home."

As of Feb. 5 the official word from the WCF website is that Jim was listed as skip.

Early this morning the news broke that Jim has not been seen in the building or during practice. We followed up on this with a phone confirmation with CCA high performance director Gerry Peckham that Jim was in Korea but needed to leave due to pressing personal circumstances.

We have looked at the World Curling site regarding the games at: Team Photos to confirm the official photo has been changed which confirms Gerry's words.

Also; as of this morning the official roster of players has been changed it can be found at the download section of the same page.


TEAM CANADA - this morning

What now remains to be told is the why and the what?

Why did Jim need to leave and I personally hope whatever it is turns out to be ok and wish him and family the best. If Jim left it is important and major. More to follow later.

The what turns out to be what does this means to Team Canada? People wanted to know if Jim made this team; well you are about to find out because in 6 hours Canada faces Italy and Darryl Nieghbour with 2 new members of the team must collect what is and has happened, put it together and win games.

The line up as listed will be as follows:

Skip - Darryl Nieghbour

Third - Ina Forrest

Second - Jack Smart

Lead - Sonja Gaudet

Alt. - Anne Hibberd

This is also the first time in history that Canada has ever played at a major tournament anywhere with only 2 males in the lineup.

We wish you the best Canada GOOD LUCK!

Inside the Worlds, a look from a distance!


In less than 10 hours we will see the opening of the 2012 World Wheelchair Curling Championship taking place in Uiam Ice Rink in Chuncheon, South Korea.

Ten mixed national teams will compete in the event which is the second opportunity for the world’s top wheelchair curling teams to gather points for their nations to qualify for the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Team Canada seems to be the odd on favorites to win, but many countries this time around more than ever will be up for the challenge.

Being on this side of the World, we wanted to try and place our readers on the sidelines of the experience. So we have put together a few images of Chuncheon and the event to help you get into the championship and see what the athletes are experiencing.

Chuncheon is the capital Gangwon, a province in the North East of South Korea.

Surrounded by hills, the Sinyeongang River and Uiamho Lake, Chuncheon is a pleasant city offering a variety of outdoor and cultural activities for tourists to enjoy during their visit.

Many of the city’s top tourist attractions are outdoors, including Namiseom, Jungdo Island, Cheongpyeongsa Temple, Gongjicheon area, Wido Island, Soyanggang River, Samaksan Mountain, Deongseon Waterfall, Gugok Waterfall, Jipdarigol Natural Forest, and Chuncheon Hunting Camp.

We need to remember that the World Championships is taking place on the peninsula north of the 38th parallel which is still under the worlds longest running cease fire between North and the South.

The war actually ended in an Armistice Agreement at approximately the Military Demarcation Line.

The area around the event and getting to the event has a good level of signage and accessiblity athletes are bused in or can take the train if they need to get out and about.

Signage is in English and Korean with lots of accessable seating.

The venue itself is placed along a lake which provides an excellent view along with the increible opportuntity to get outside and relax with those magestic surroundings.



As you aprrocah the venue you is it placed in front a mountain backdrop with outstanding quality and attention to details.
There is lots of parking in the area which is  hope for what the attendance at the event could be.

The entrance way is something to behold. With large Korean print that cannot be missed




Coach Thor over looks the field of play
The field of play is located in a large building that speaks for itself. Very similair to the facility some of these athletes expereinced in Vancouver in 2010 at what is now the Hillcrest facility.


The flags of each particpating country hang with pride and the WCF logo is at the forefront of the in ice logo layout with lots of sponsor signage on the hockey boards.

The rings at the traditional WCF colours with no surprise on the layout

The rocks are Blue with blue inserts with traditional Yellow and red handles  which appear to have no  fitting problems for the stick heads that all athletes now play with.

Tons of room behind the houses will provided ease of movement for the skips and the player which is great to see.



Access to the ice is found though a set of ramps and as you can see the ramps are a little steep but nothing this athelets can't handle. A good amount of seating should pact the specators in and knowing the Korean culture I am sure the place will be packed.

We have reports that at the beginning the ice conditions were straight with very little curl and a little heavy. The conditions then seemed to change around and I sure that the conditions for play will be up to speed has the ice techs dial in what they want for game conditions. The fact that these games are taking place in Korea speaks miles for our sport and where is has come in such a short time. 
Many of the experiences for players and coachs are never going to be forgotten and I can say with great pride that they will make life long friends. So there you have it the tour is over and the players are ready as they are ever going to be.

GOOD LUCK to ALL!                                                GOOD CURLING!

Jalle &

Friday, 17 February 2012

My observations on Worlds!

So my counterpart Eric Eales yesterday released his thoughts on the upcoming World Wheelchair Curling Championships being held in Chuncheon, South Korea. His comments/thoughts can be found at his personal blog @ Eric Personal Blog.
So to help everyone out and remind them of our give away, I thought I would share some comments on his thoughts and my own observations of what is the show case for this sport we all love.

We have ten teams competing this time with every country showing at least 1 new face in the crowd which is excellent for our sport and its future.  I could spend some time telling you about why and who I think is going to make the podium but why? That is for you and moreover the players to decide it has nothing to do with me. What I would like to do is spend a short amount of time maybe giving some highlights of each team so everyone knows what each team is bringing to the ice.  Ten teams – ten highlights….and I will say it is listed in WCF order as of this morning, NO RANKING happening here so please save the time and efforts from emailing me your conspiracy theories on why Chris Daw put what name where. Thank you advance.
1.       Canada

Well what can I say; they have to be the hands on favorites no question and no folks I am not playing favorites. You have to look at the facts. Canada by fact since the formal setting of Worlds has always been a favorite and in the foreseeable future will be. They have won most everything they have touched since first winning the Paralympic Gold in Tornio. I mean, YES a small rebuild between 2007-2008 with a skip change around and Jimmy taking the helm but the stream roller as been there since. 4 of the five players having been curling together for what 4 years now and that alone says something about what they can do.  Contradictory to opinion Jim does not save this team with his last shots; this team is well balanced and most likely the most balanced team in the sport today. Hard to pick a weak position- Jim calls a game which leaves opportunity for an easy out or an extra point (or 2) no rocket science here. I mean 30 some odd years is going to give any skip an advantage. Add the point that the fifth player is a balance position player as well and you have a tough team to beat and if you do beat them review the tape and keep the rocks.
2.       China

Ok, here is a team take can technically out do any team.  A low throwing position I am not convinced gives them any advantage but the throw is second to none.  They came out of nowhere to rock the curling world just a short time ago but lack in the international experience of play and understanding of strategy which has and could keep them off the podium. With the exoduses of Dan Rafael, Canadian coach, to Italy do they have the strategically understand to go all the way?
3.       Italy

One of the most underrated teams out there.  Like I said; Dan Rafael relocated under contract to Italy to help the AB program make some head way in the game. Recently the team understood the value of not onlywhat  Dan could bring to them but also the resources Dan had available to him to help make this team once again shine.  The opportunity for additional development did not totally develop for them and if they don’t make the podium watch for the heads to turn and maybe and finally they will understand the resources which are in their backyard. Be that said; and if I know Dan, this team has made some head way into becoming the power house they can be.
4.       Korea (South)

What to say about Korea? If any team has made the investment in preparing for these worlds it is Korea. If you understand the sport culture in Korea; you also know there is much more then medals on the line for this team. Over the years they have invested in coaching, travel and development. In 2010 they almost shocked the world by coming back from an 8-1 lead by Canada to only lose by 1. Can they do it, watch them! The team does have the ability, the technical merit and strategically understand the game BUT 2 major problems exist.  EGOS, and pressure. This team has a few players which CAN let their egos get in the way of performance and the pressure to perform on home ice for the first time in history could be the down falls.
5.       Norway 

2 time World champions they have made the big show before and can do it again. A few changes in the lineup may play a role but should be nullified by the experience Rune brings to the table as skipper. Matched second to none by Coach Thor’s ability to understand the team and keep them on track to the right times. The team is able to reach the top again.
6.       Russia

Investment in experience is the name of the game here. Can they make the podium, YES but is it the goal right now maybe not and they can afford it out of all the teams. Remember Russia is the only team in the pack which is guaranteed a spot in Sochi in 2014. They can afford to invest in growing the experience they need to develop to top the podium where it counts the most the Paralympics. A good friend and top level curler once said to me “It doesn’t really matter how many World Championships you win, you win the Olympics or Paralympics for that matter just once you’re remembered forever”.  I don’t know about that because Randy Ferby and Colleen Jones with argue that point but if I had to win anywhere and had the time to develop the skills before I did it, I would want to win at home, don’t ya think!
7.       Scotland

This is a team which could perform the upset! They should be on the podium and I could go on. This team has the experience and a NEW coach in Tony Zummack. Will it make a difference, YES SIR, I say.  The experiment is over and Tony has the team throwing and playing like curlers again. The expectation of throwing 70%, if this is a real goal for the team maybe the only down fall. I have seen and experienced this before and if you pay to close attention to stats and focus to much on what you should be doing rather than what you need to do could bite them. They have the talent and this talent pool has grown with the blue brothers joining the team (Ewan and Gault). They are strong and they may have Canada’s number this time around but Canada is not just going to pull up the kilt and take it. Watch for this game!  
8.       Slovakia

So what can I say about an unknown? The team did win qualifiers but qualifiers is not worlds and any expectation of winning the worlds needs to be put in check for a first timer at this level of development in the sport. They can play, no doubt and no disrespect what so ever to the players but playing with the big boys is a whole new game and they may not be ready yet!
9.       Sweden

Ok, a little side story for you. My son TJ just loves these guys! I mean loves these guys. He is only 8 and every time Dad is watching or reporting on the team he watches me with a passion which can only be matched by the team itself. This is a team which is due! I mean that with the bottom of my heart and talk about a great group of just genuine nice people.  I am proud to know these guys and gals and call a few of them friends. Since the beginning this team as be the most consistent next to Canada and Scotland.  Jalle has the experience it takes to lead this team back onto the podium. Coming back to the game after being coach has to have changed is perspective in regards to every aspect of the game, an experience which now will have its advantages.  If there is any team at the tournament I want to see perform to its full potential above the standard expectation it is this team. I guess I just jumped on the TJ train.
10.   USA

The USA, what can I say. I hope you all the best. Pat is a good friend of mine and I have worked with him in the past. I was even supposed to curl with him this year. Does the USA have what it takes to reach the podium? I don’t know! I wish them the best but this is the only team with a full change up. 3 out of 5 new players, new skip who and I hate to this but have to, just came off shoulder surgery not long ago. The USA program has under gone some major change and I am not just sure if the team is ready to perform to it full potential yet! I wish them the best of luck and will be cheering for you. Good luck buddy!

Well there you have it, my thoughts and you can read Eric thoughts. This should give you more than enough information to understand what the world wants to know. Don’t forget to vote for your chance to win a Timmy’s, Starbucks or VISA gift card! Vote your top 3 winners at VOTE NOW! And please remember to put your name if you actually want the card.

Best of luck to all teams! All teams here have earned the right to be there and remember this is curling so anything for anyone can happen at any time!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Demo planned at VCC ?????? How and by who?


So I was reading tonight and got the word that the club I use to manage is going to be hosting a clinic on wheelchair curling. So to be nice I am going to reserve a few words of how I really feel and yes I know folks I said I would not state opinion but this one is a little to close to home.

So the Vancouver Curling Club can host there clinic and I will post it no problem, funny thing is when I was manager I had planned and received funding for the VCC to host a wheelchair curling league. Funny how now this is a 2 hour clinic. ODD!

Also; may I mention that most players who can do the instruction are out of the country or unavailable for that weekend so I hope they have touched base with Curl BC to get qualified instruction going. I will also state that Curl BC has not advertised the event or listed the event in anyway. Also; am going to find it interesting in what they hope to have happen in just 2 hours.

Enough said... the event is listed below and Grouse Mountain is a beautiful place for a visit..

JUST SAYING!

‘Come and try Adaptive Winter Sports camp’ offers an introduction for individuals with a physical disability, to try a variety of adaptive winter sports in a fun and informal setting. Participants will be invited to try out the sports of alpine skiing, sledge hockey and wheelchair curling over a three day camp.

The alpine skiing and sledge hockey will take place at Grouse Mountain, just 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver. Here participants will get to enjoy 2 days on the mountain learning the basic skills of alpine skiing or snowboarding and having the opportunity to try out sledge hockey on the mountain top ice rink!

The wheelchair curling session will take place at the Vancouver Curling club at the Hill Crest Centre, next to Queen Elizabeth Park. The centre was the Curling venue during the 2010 Olympics and Paralympics.

The aim of the camp is to raise awareness of the opportunities that exist and create a positive introductory experience to some of the winter adaptive sports. The come try sessions will also increase confidence, motivation, independence and skill levels.

Outline of camp agenda:

Friday March 9th Vancouver Curling Club, Hillcrest Centre
3.30 – 5.30pm – Introduction and ‘come try’ wheelchair curling

Saturday March 10th Grouse Mountain
8am – 12pm Alpine skiing/snowboarding lessons
1.30pm – 3pm Sledge hockey ‘come try’ session

Sunday March 11th Grouse Mountain
8am – 12pm Alpine skiing/snowboarding lessons

The alpine ski/snowboard lessons will be delivered by the Vancouver Adaptive Snow Sports (VASS) who run skiing and snowboarding programs for persons with a disability at Grouse, Seymour and Cypress Mountains. The sledge hockey demo will be delivered by local athletes and in partnership with BC Hockey and SportAbility. The wheelchair curling session will be delivered by local athletes, the Vancouver Curling club and in partnership with Curl BC. All activities will be led by certified coaches and instructors from the individual sports.

The camp is open to individuals, (age 12 and above) trying out one or all of these sports for the first time.

Cost of the ‘Come and try Adaptive Winter Sports camp’ is $25

Comment of World Podium! Win a prize!

In lue of the World Championships starting on Sunday; we are inviting everyone to please drop a comment on who and postion you think the top 3 teams will finish.

All correct guessers' will have there name place for a draw and their chance to win a :


$20.00 (CDN$)
 Winner recieves a $20.00 (CDN$) Tim Horton's or StarBucks Card


Please leave your comment in the following format:

1: Country Name
2: Country Name
3: Country Name

You will need to leave your name to be eligible.

All Anonymous voters can vote but will not be eligible to win.

Also; let us know of what you think of this idea.

So get those comments in and don't forget to put a name down if you want to WIN!

Let's see if you can pick the winners!

* Winner will have there card mail to them via standard Canada post with in 2 business days
** All International voters will recive a gift card equal to $20 canadian in form of a VISA gift Card\

10th Anniversary of the South Lanarkshire Wheelchair Curling Club

Featured photo L to R: Craig Taylor, Miller Stoddart, Jim Sellar, Boys Tunnock and Angela Higson. Photo by Paul Webster.
The 10th Anniversary of the South Lanarkshire Wheelchair Curling Club was celebrated in style with a dinner at the Town House at Hamilton.

Around 60 members and friends enjoyed a dinner and were entertained by 2 after dinner speakers in an evening ably chaired by President Arthur Bell. The toast to the club was proposed by Ian Dunn of South Lanarkshire Disability Sport. A splendid celebratory cake, donated by keen supporter Boyd Tunncok, was cut by three original members of the club, Craig Taylor, Jim Sellar and Angela Higson.
An evening, enjoyed by all, was completed by a hearty vote of thanks by Miller Stoddart.


Call for Volunteer & Sponsors for the 2012 National Championships


The national championship are just around the corner, Dave Kawahara;coach of the NOCA rep - Team Leveqsue was  interviewed by Shaw TV. The Canadian Nationals will take place at the  Fort William CC in  Thunder Bay from March 18-25.

In the interview Dave makes a plea not only for volunteers but for sponsorship surrounding the event. The event will host 10 provinicals teams looking to capture the title of which 7 team are all new.

Dave also mentions that in cooperation with the CCA that the event will be LIVE streaming all games. However; the WC@BLOG2 sources have heard that this may not be occuring. We do know that live coverage of the event will be occuring with more information on that in the weeks to follow. We also know that there may be live streamign of 1 game we are reserving our comments on if all games will have coverage at this time.

Watch the video below and stay tuned here for annoucement regarding National coverage and partnerships in the next few weeks.



Man in Motion Tour makes mark with Sasketchewan's provincial team



Sharon in the city (local reporter)  tried her hand at wheelchair curling while participating in the Man in Motion Tour:


Wheelchair Curling Demonstration at the Moose Jaw Ford Curling Centre in Mosasic Place. Members of Sasketchewan's provincial team were on hand to help her out. Watch the video here:





Cornwall hosting Wheelchair Curling Demonstration and Bonspiel on Saturday

(parasportpei.ca) ParaSport & Recreation PEI and the Cornwall Curling Club are excited to announce that they have partnered to offer a FREE Wheelchair Curling Demonstration and Bonspiel. This event has been initiated by the Cornwall Curling Club as part of the Town of Cornwall’s initiative to become “PEI’s most accessible community”. The newly reconstructed curling club is fully accessible so now people of all abilities will have the opportunity to curl in Cornwall.

The demonstration and bonspiel are scheduled to take place on Saturday, February 18, 2012 from 10 am to 4 pm at the Cornwall Curling Club. Please click here to see event poster for full details.

Photo: Laughlie Rutt

The full day event will begin with a 2- hour wheelchair curling demonstration led by Laughlie Rutt from Halifax, NS. Laughlie has been involved in the sport for many years, has represented NS at National Championships and has been instrumental in the development of the sport in Nova Scotia. We are excited to have Laughlie come to PEI to share his knowledge of the sport.

Following the demonstration, there will be a free lunch for all participants which will be followed by a wheelchair curling bonspiel. All participants must play using a wheelchair. Wheelchairs will be provided for those that need one.

We are encouraging anyone that is interested to come out on the 18th to give this wonderful sport a try. No experience necessary and spectators are welcome so bring your family and friends (or maybe they want to play too!). We are asking that everyone pre-register prior to the event but it is not mandatory. We would like to get a feel for numbers for planning purposes. To pre-register, please call the ParaSport & Recreation PEI office at 368-4540 or email me at tracy@parasportpei.ca .

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Turkey has joined the game!


After a number of years of discussion. The Turkish Curling Federation was happy to annouce offically they have entered the world of wheelchair curling.

Curling in Turkey is some what different from Canada; they play on a regular ice rink which is very much used for hockey and skating.  They have a limited number of rocks in the country for curling but the number of curlers are developing The team is new and will take some time before  we see them attend and type of bonspiel of quailifier. But hey, they are curling

Congratulations to the team and we hope to see you in the future at the World Wheelchair Curling Championships

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Chuncheon ready for 2012 World Wheelchair Curling Championships

Front Entrance of Chuncheon Rink


Play begins at the World Wheelchair Curling Championship 2012 on Sunday the 19th of February at the Uiam Ice Rink in Chuncheon, South Korea.

Ten mixed national teams will compete in the event which is the second opportunity for the world’s top wheelchair curling teams to gather points for their nations to qualify for the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

Reigning world champions, Canada, who won the Gold in Prague last year, return to defend their title with Skip Jim Armstrong and his Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Gold medal winning line up.
Scotland’s Aileen Neilson, the only female skip in the field, will be hoping that her team can go one better than the silver medal they took last year after losing to Canada in final.

And Norway’s Rune Lorentsen, whose team won Bronze in 2011, is back as are their bronze medal game opponents from last year – the Russian team skipped by Andrey Smirnov.

The other six teams are China (Skip Haito Wang), Korea (Skip Hak-Sung Kim who led Korea to Paralympic silver in Vancouver in 2010), USA (with Patrick McDonald as Skip) and Sweden (with Jalle Jungnell returning as Skip after he coached the Swedes in Prague last year).

Italy (skipped by Andrea Tabanelli) and Slovakia (skipped by Radoslav Duris) are the two teams who made it to this year’s World Championship after qualifying out of the World Wheelchair Curling Qualifier event in Lohja, Finland, last November.

The ten teams will compete in a round robin which runs from Sunday to Thursday 23rd February. Semifinals take place on Friday 24th with the Bronze and Gold medal games scheduled for 10:00 and 14:00 local time (KST – Korean Standard Time) on Saturday 25th.


Further qualification points for the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia will be awarded at the end of this year’s world championship based on the final ranking. For more information visit: www.worldcurling.org/curling-at-the-paralympics

The 2012 World Wheelchair Curling Championship is the third World Curling Federation world championship event to be staged in Korea after the Mount Titlis World Women’s Curling
Championship 2009 in Gangneung and the World Junior Curling Championships in 2006 in Jeonju.

In 2013, the World Wheelchair Curling Championship will take place in Sochi, Russia from 16-23 February.

Wheels to Korea

Top: Coach Tony Zummack with (L-R) Aileen Neilson, Tom Killin, Gregor Ewan, Angie Malone and Jim Gault.
Photo © Skip Cottage.
Orginal post found at our friends over at:http://skipcottagecurling.blogspot.com/

Scotland's wheelchair curling squad fly out today (Tuesday), heading for the World Wheelchair Curling Championship in the Uiam Ice Rink, Chuncheon City, South Korea, February 18-25.

The ten countries which have qualified for the 2012 world event are Canada, China, Korea (as host), Norway, Russia, Scotland, Sweden, USA, Slovakia and Italy. These two last came though the pre-qualifying event.

Practice time is next Saturday, and the Scots have their first two games on Sunday against China and Norway. The event website is here if you would like to follow how they get on.

Remember that Paralympic qualifying points are at stake to ensure GB participation in the next Winter Games at Sochi in 2014. Currently the GB total is ten points, by virtue of Scotland's silver medal placing at last season's World Wheelchair Curling Championship.

I realise that there may be some blogallies who have never seen wheelchair curling. There's an excellent short video found below  from the International Open event last month at the Lanarkshire Ice Rink. Or click on the image below. The video is from South Lanarkshire Council's lottery funded community filmmaking project. See if you can spot any of the Scottish squad in action!

Fit for Curling!

Now I know what your all goin gto say but when I see a good article I am going to post it. Below is a great article I found today on the CCA website about fit for curling. Now you may ask why? Well, wheelchair curlers need to be no less fit then our AB counter parts. So, read the article below and tell me what you think. I believe the more we bridge the gap between the AB game and the W/c game the better off we re going to be and the further ahead we will be in regards to the coverage we deserve!


Orginal article: http://www.curling.ca/2012/02/10/no-place-for-flab-in-todays-game/

It’s a question that has dogged curling for generations: are curlers athletes? The image of the beer-swilling, chain-smoking, pot-bellied curler (just think of Homer Simpson with a brush) has been around longer than artificial ice. There was a time, in fact, that ashtrays were available at the end of each sheet, and it wasn’t uncommon to have a beer while playing.

So what’s the deal? Is curling really a sport, or a quaint pastime sharing space with the likes of bowling, darts and billiards?
Fred Storey (left) celebrates and Ernie Sparkes sweeps - cigarette firmly in place - while playing with the Ron Northcott team at the 1968 Brier. It wasn't until 1980 that smoking was disallowed on the ice at the men's championship (Photo courtesy Warren Hansen)
On one level, the game is still social in nature and can be enjoyed by all ages and skill levels. That has always been one of the appealing aspects of the sport.
There can be no question, however, that the men and women who play the game at the highest level today are, indeed, athletes.
Stronger, sleeker, fitter — today’s top competitive curlers are in the best shape ever, physically and mentally, and the evidence is on display at any of the major curling competitions in Canada or on the world stage. Many of the world’s best curlers wouldn’t look out of place in a men’s or women’s downhill ski event, or on a marathon course.
The transformation of competitive curlers over the decades is one that Warren Hansen, the director of competitions for the Canadian Curling Association, is glad to see.
“Some of the age-old myths that curling is easy and you can drink and smoke and do everything else, that really isn’t the case if you are participating on a regular basis now,” says Hansen. “It’s more evident that [fitness] has become very important for top players.”
Hansen ought to know. He was a vanguard regarding fitness techniques back when he curled in the 1960s. He always knew the competitive value of being in shape. As one of the strong-armed sweepers on Hec Gervais’s crack Alberta teams, he was a physical specimen.
“Certainly when I was playing on the front end I was preparing all the time, lifting weights,” he says. “Because with corn brooms, if you didn’t have that endurance, your sweeping wasn’t going to be very effective. There were people at the top level who weren’t very effective because they weren’t physically fit enough to sustain 12-end games, occasionally three times a day.
“You have to keep fit. If you don’t, you’re going to slip behind.”
Fitness is key now," says Glenn Howard (Photo Michael Burns)
Glenn Howard, one of Canada’s top skips and a three-time world champion, agrees.
“It’s not an old-man, beer-drinking sport anymore. Fitness is the key now,” says Howard, who is 49 but keeps himself in peak physical shape. “We sort of got away with [lack of training] in the past, but now you can’t get away with it any more.”

There’s little doubt about when fitness came into focus. Curling’s acceptance into the Olympics as a full-medal sport in 1998 in Nagano, Japan, turned thinking around on a dime. Suddenly, curlers were looking for any edge, and fitness was one of them.

“Curling being part of the Olympics was a major contributing factor towards a whole different attitude about how they prepared mentally and physically for competition,” Hansen says.
Shannon Kleibrink, one of Canada’s top female skips, never needed to be convinced that fitness was a good thing for her game and perhaps a ticket to the Olympics. She’s always understood the link between fitness and performance.

“It’s huge,” says Kleibrink, who won a bronze for Canada at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. “A team that is fit and has done its mental preparations probably has an edge on other teams.”
Shannon Kleibrink: “A team that is fit and has done its mental preparations probably has an edge on other teams.” (Photo Michael Burns)

Kleibrink, who has a physical education degree and curls out of Calgary, says every member of her team is on a fitness regime with a personal trainer.

“We’ve always done it,” she says.

The CCA has been encouraging the country’s best curlers to get fit for years, and has provided the tools to help them achieve their goals.

“Fitness is crucial in today’s game,” says Bob Comartin, the lead strength and conditioning specialist with the National Team Program for the CCA. “Not only do front-enders need upper body strength and power to sweep a rock, but also the endurance to play several games per day, several days per week.

“This is where fitness impacts the back-end players as well. Fitter back-end players are able to handle the mental stress of competition better than their unfit counterparts. Better leg strength also helps reduce strain on their knees, thus preventing injuries.”

Comartin doesn’t work individually with Canada’s top players. He is, however, a reference for trainers, athletes and coaches who are looking for guidance in the area of injury prevention and fitness development. He also facilitates National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) coaching courses and speaks at various provincial coaching workshops on the subject of fitness and training.
Comartin, who started working with Team Kelly Law back in 1999, says a fitness regimen should be tailored to each individual.

“A fitness session should specifically address the athlete’s weaknesses and needs,” he says. “Test, train, retest should be the typical protocol for trainers. An ideal session combines elements of pre-habilitation and bouts of high intensity activity mixed with recovery time.
“Pre-habilitation addresses the athlete’s specific weaknesses and seeks to improve areas commonly stressed in the game. High intensity bouts can include weight lifting, sprinting, or plyometrics (a type of exercise training designed to produce fast, powerful movements), mixed with appropriate rest intervals. The combination of these activities reduces the risk of injury and builds a better athlete for the game.”

And fitness is good for more than just the game’s top players. Comartin says better fitness is good for average club curlers, too.

“More and more, average club curlers are benefiting from their exercise routine,” he says. “The greatest benefit is in reducing aches and pains and being able to keep playing at an older age.”
The message in curling today is clear: You don’t have to be ‘cut’ to play, but you had better be in shape to play the game at the highest level.

A litte dated article but worth the mention

EMC Sports - Twenty-four of Ontario's top wheelchair curlers came to the North Grenville Curling Club (NGCC) last week to compete in the Dominion Wheelchair Provincial Curling Championship from Jan. 31 to Feb. 3.

After three days of exciting curling, the Ilderton Curling Club led by skip Mark Ideson beat defending champion Chris Rees of the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club. Ideson's team will join the top team from Northern Ontario as the province's entrants in the national wheelchair curling championship in Thunder Bay in March.

NGCC president Barbara Gour welcomed the curlers to North Grenville last week. "We're trying very hard to make our club as accessible as possible, though there is work to be done," she said at the opening ceremonies on Jan. 31.

"As we throw rocks at one another, may we do it with joy - may we do it with passion," said vice president Ralph Taylor as the curlers tucked in to a catered lunch before testing out the club's five sheets for the first of three days of round-robin play.

Wheelchair curling came to Canada in 2001, with the first Dominion-sponsored provincial championship held in 2005. There are no sweepers in wheelchair curling, but it's still very much a cooperative effort. Before the curler launches a rock, using a long pole to grip and guide the handle, a teammate gets in position to hold their wheelchair steady, allowing the curler to put all their strength into the throw.

Mayor David Gordon thanked the Ontario Curling Association for holding the tournament at what he called "the best darn curling club in North Grenville," and praised the "hard work and dedication" of NGCC volunteers.

Like any major bonspiel, the championship has an economic spin-off, said past NGCC president Bill White, as curlers from Bradford, Toronto and Ilderton stayed, ate and shopped in North Grenville.

White said that the OCA has previously invited NGCC to host the national wheelchair championship, but the club must first install an elevator to its second-floor banquet area to accommodate the numbers of curlers and fans.

The club's application for a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to help offset the elevator's hefty $100,000 price tag was denied, but NGCC will reapply with the municipality's support, White said.

"Our responsibility now is to make sure that this is an accessible building to enhance the experience for all curlers," he said.

Nancy Fischer and Amanda Burrell from Community Living North Grenville were on hand to wish the participants luck. Because it allows for the "participation for all involved," wheelchair curling "tears down barriers and promotes community spirit for all," Fischer said.

Curling is a sport enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. Even the legally blind can play by throwing their rocks at a flashing lit target. In North Grenville, the seniors and mixed adult leagues are bustling, while children and youth pack the rink each weekend for the Little Rock program.

The social aspect of the sport is paramount. The club is completely volunteer-driven, save for one paid staff member who maintains the ice.

The municipality owns the building, but the club covers all costs. Heating the clubhouse and cooling the rink eat up most of the budget, White said.

On top of paying their dues, many members make sandwiches and man the canteen, adding to add to the communal experience.

Though curling's popularity is reflected in the large crowds that come out for weekly games, the club is always recruiting new members. NGCC has a standing offer of five lessons for $20, with the fee put toward membership should the newcomer decide to join a league.

This was NGCC's first time hosting the provincial competition, but the club is no stranger to wheelchair curling, which was first introduced by past president Brian Cassidy.

Today, two adults and one youth curler use wheelchairs, which club secretary Sandra Tobin calls an example of the sport's inherent "inclusivity."

"Everybody supports everybody else in curling. It really is about teamwork and camaraderie, and it's just so positive," she said.

jp.antonacci@metroland.com

WCF Official Press Release: "Chuncheon ready for 2012 World Wheelchair Curling Championships"




For immediate release: 14 February 2012

 Chuncheon, South Korea – Play begins at the World Wheelchair Curling Championship 2012 on Sunday the 19th of February at the Uiam Ice Rink in Chuncheon, South Korea.

Ten mixed national teams will compete in the event which is the second opportunity for the world’s top wheelchair curling teams to gather points for their nations to qualify for the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

Reigning world champions, Canada, who won the Gold in Prague last year, return to defend their title with Skip Jim Armstrong and his Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Gold medal winning line up.

Scotland’s Aileen Neilson, the only female skip in the field, will be hoping that her team can go one better than the silver medal they took last year after losing to Canada in final.

And Norway’s Rune Lorentsen, whose team won Bronze in 2011, is back as are their bronze medal game opponents from last year – the Russian team skipped by Andrey Smirnov.

The other six teams are China (Skip Haito Wang), Korea (Skip Hak-Sung Kim who led Korea to Paralympic silver in Vancouver in 2010), USA (with Patrick McDonald as Skip) and Sweden (with Jalle Jungnell returning as Skip after he coached the Swedes in Prague last year).

Italy (skipped by Andrea Tabanelli) and Slovakia (skipped by Radoslav Duris) are the two teams who made it to this year’s World Championship after qualifying out of the World Wheelchair Curling Qualifier event in Lohja, Finland, last November.

The ten teams will compete in a round robin which runs from Sunday to Thursday 23rd February. Semifinals take place on Friday 24th with the Bronze and Gold medal games scheduled for 10:00 and 14:00 local time (KST – Korean Standard Time) on Saturday 25th.

Wheelchair curling is similar in many ways to its able-bodied parent game, except that no sweeping takes place, and each game consists of eight instead of ten ends.

Further qualification points for the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia will be awarded at the end of this year’s world championship based on the final ranking.

Results, news and photos from the World Wheelchair Curling Championship 2012 can be seen here on the event website: http://www.wwhcc2012.curlingevents.com,

[We here at the blog will also have full coverage and maybe even a few inside stories]

The 2012 World Wheelchair Curling Championship is the third World Curling Federation world championship event to be staged in Korea after the Mount Titlis World Women’s Curling Championship 2009 in Gangneung and the World Junior Curling Championships in 2006 in Jeonju.

In 2013, the World Wheelchair Curling Championship will take place in Sochi, Russia from 16-23 February.