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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

SHOCK AND AWE - post provinical questions!

Authored by Trevor Kerr

After Provincial Championships this weekend, we are left both shocked and at the same time awed.

The two newly crowned champions from competitions in British Columbia and Ontario contained NO members from any of the top eight positions in the National Team pool and, consequently, none of those eight will be playing in the National Championships in Ottawa in late March.  Jim Armstrong with Mike Munro & Mark Ideson on his team lost to Ken Gregory.  Gerry Austgarden with Sonja Gaudet on his team lost to Rich Green.  The other teams at Nationals will not be able to challenge the likes of Skip Jim Armstrong, Sonja Gaudet, Gerry Ausgarden, Mark Ideson, Ina Forrest,  Darryl Neighbour,  and Mike Munro.

Regardless of the fact the "top eight" have been privileged to have received special and specialized coaching and higher level competition than most of the other WC curlers in Canada, it is shocking to think that they were not able to use those experiences to lead their teams to a championship against teams with no National pool members and playing with the benefit of coaches who do not have the resources of the CCA behind them.

Another way to look at this situation is to consider that perhaps the overall level of expertise of the other wheelchair curlers in Canada has developed to the point they are so competitive as to be able to knock off National pool members.  This is an awesome consideration and, if it is accurate, bodes well for the future.

But what about now?  Could it be there are better choices for members of the team which must prepare for Sochi in 2014?  How many of those going to Sochi for the World Championships in two weeks will be there in 2014?  Saskatchewan, national champions last year, have none of their curlers in the National pool.  In fact, only Benoit and Denis, past Canadian Gold & Silver Medal teams, are in the pool.  Is it possible, as has been suggested by some of our readers, there has been a lack of concentration by several of the National Team members?  Perhaps the eight do not have the same drive or dedication to win their own National Championships?  Only the eight, time and the National Team inner circle can give us the answers to these questions.


Wayne said...

First of all I would like to say congrats to both the BC and S. ONT rinks for a job well done. As a wc curler who has been lucky enough to compete at 4 National championships and three as a skip I have had the pleasure to meet all the players on both these teams. I believe the comment made at the end of above post is accurate and that many teams in Canada are playing at a level where they could compete with other countries in the world. The Cathy Kerr is an example as both the US and Scotland lost at least one game to a team from Canada without National pool players. In saying this it would be interesting to see if a league team could compete at this level over an entire round robin play? I would suggest that there are a number of teams that can beat these more elite teams on occasion but can/could they continue to win the majority of time?. Only getting the chance to compete against team Canada and other world class teams is going to tell this story?

Now for my view on Team Canada. Although there may be other players not on this team that should still be given a chance sometime down the road, I truly believe that the current team as it stands is very very strong. Denis is going to make a hell of addition to this team and should learn alot from Jim in terms of strategy and shot selection. The girls are world class and Mark showed he could win by winning provincials last year.

I want to wish Team Canada all the best at the worlds as they are competing the same time Kenora is hosting the N. Ont Provincials Feb 22-24th/ No matter how the team does at the worlds I would like to see this team travel to the different provincial teams rinks and start playing matches across Canada. The talent is there that Team Canada can base their skills against the rest of the curlers who compete at this level in Canada.

I look forward to hosting the N.Ont. playdowns and welcome the teams from Thunder Bay and Sudbury that will be coming. Thanks to our sponsors from Shoppers Home Health Care and Energy Tech Servicess along with NWO Claims we look forward to a successful event. I can tell you from losing last year that it was very difficult watching it on computer. With any luck......I will not have too???


Wayne Ficek

Anonymous said...

You make very valid points, Wayne.

It is time to start WORKING with the Team Canada program, and maximizing the benefit to all.

My impression is that the players in the Program are more than prepared to give their time to advancing the provincial teams, and I would hope the staff would be as well.

Then, perhaps an advertised "friendly" series with the National winner????

CJ said...

"Shock and awe" - While I appreciate the article that Trevor Kerr wrote about the winning teams at the provincial tournaments that included national team and pool members about the future of the program, I wonder why it should be titled "Shock and awe". While there are 8 players that are part of the national team program - who are excellent players - there are several players who are also excellent who are not part of the program. The sport of wheelchair curling has grown and improved ten fold in the past 3-5 years and it's quite likely that there will be times when teams with national team members will lose to those that do not have national team members. Our team (team Gregory) has worked very hard to prepare for provincials. We work on individual and team skills to get ready for competitions, we do things individually to try and get better. We may not have the specialized coaching and support of the CCA but we work with coaches who are willing to learn more and improve their knowledge and technical insight into the sport of wheelchair curling. So, this time around, we won a provincial championship. Any team can win or lose on any given day.
I would not lead the article with "shock and awe" I would reflect the more positive side of this story which is the growth of wheelchair curling in this country.
It will eventually be a program that will send the national champion to the world championships as happens in the able-bodied game. Let's not continue to focus on the few national team members who didn't make it to nationals but give credit to those players who got themselves to nationals. Ontario is the hardest province to play in with 6 very strong teams competing for the provincial championship title. It can be possible that the provincial winner would be a team that doesn't include national team members. There are some questions that can certainly be asked of the national team program - and let them be asked, but let's not take away from the work and effort that has been put in by those who are not part of the national team development program. Congratulations are in order!

Eric Eales said...

Team Canada composition is directly influenced by funding partners like Own The Podium, that insist the squad be drawn from a pool of the best available athletes. There are also recommendations about what makes a good candidate. Provincial success is not explicitly mentioned.

The TC program is run by coaches understandably enamoured of their own ability to spot and develop talent.

Evidence noted by Trevor to the contrary, it will be hard to persuade the people in charge that they have made the wrong decisions.

Having the national champions represent Canada at the Worlds, as in able-bodied competition has been, and will remain a non-starter while the present Team Canada structure persists. Team Canada coaches will not allow their team sufficient exposure to provincial squads: partly from questions of resources and logistics, and partly because they have nothing to gain and everything to lose by doing so.

I have a suggestion. Leave national championships as they are, provincially based and bringing together the best of Canada's wheelchair curlers at least once a year.

But treat Wheelchair World events like the able-bodied teams treat Olympic selection, forming teams across geographical boundaries, and competing in a playdown for the right to represent Canada.

The annual tournament could be called the Canadian World Qualifying Tournament and produce a winner through a round robin, The CCA could enter as many teams as it chooses to sponsor.

I think players who are sufficiently motivated to prepare, will be able to produce the funds to compete. Talented individuals from areas without sufficient players to be competitive at Nationals could join forces with players in other areas.

We must allow the wheelchair game to grow up, and give maple leaf opportunities to more than the handful of people who catch the eye and maintain friendly relations with current Team Canada staff.

Anonymous said...

Collinda brings up some valid points.

Curling is a percentage game, and a team can be significantly better if they win the MAJORITY of games. That said, a team will still lose the odd game in a series.

That is why, in my opinion, the Program will not subject Team Canada to a sudden death playoff against the National winner.

I DO believe, that if Peckham was pressed, he would agree to a SERIES of games, which would be a tremendous step to advancing the concept that we all want.

It should be developed in a harmonious way, rather than confrontational. Why would the Program have incentive to change, when it is villified by the masses.

The Program has enjoyed temendous success in the past few years, with the only bump being last season.

Let's respectfully push the Program for a playoff, even if in the early years, it is simply a development camp.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing to motivate CCA to change their program to a Nationals champion representing the country. That would put their coaches out of a job so where is the motivation on their part.

Eric's approach of opening up the borders and letting people move around is a novel and innovative approach which could see more talent shine. Perhaps we would see teams forming in the provinces that are not being represented presently and we wouldn't have perpetual default teams like we see in Manitoba.

It's creative thinking like this rather than personal attacks that will have this sport grow rather than stagnate with the same faces showing up year after year with the only change being the shade of grey in their hair.

Eric Eales said...

Just for the record, here's Team Canada's results post Torino.

2007 - 4th
2008 - 4th
2009 - 1st (Jim skipping)
2010 - 1st (Jim skipping)
2011 - 1st (Jim skipping)
2012 - 7th

Anonymous said...




Anonymous said...

Is Eric suggesting that the Natinal Program is not effective without Jim?

Anonymous said...

It certainly seems like last year's finish did show weakness within the whole Program.........from coaching to execution.

Interesting to see where this year's team lands