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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Canada finishes 6th overall, not a bad outcome

Canada has long been a dominant force at the wheelchair curling Worlds, a true testament to the athletes and the program in general. Although this year does not see Canada make the playoffs at the Worlds in Finland, Canada needs to be proud of what these athletes have done as a whole.

With the loss of Jim Armstrong, the Canadian team was bound to need some adjustment. Mark Ideson is an accomplished athlete in the sport and did all he could. He and the other team members had not played the positions they did in Finland previously, despite playing together for years.

Also, the timing of Armstrong’s health problem left little to no time for advance preparation.

What does this mean for the program?

Time has shown that the program takes time to adjust. Only two skips have ever made the podium for Canada at any Worlds or Paralympics. With firm belief, the return of Jim would bounce the program back to the top and if Jim is unable to return, the recruitment and training of a new skip like Mark over the next three years will show Canada has what it takes to return to the top of the world.

The program will adjust and perhaps look to the past – at players like Neighbour or Cormack – to fill in whatever blanks may exist… or the continued development of athletes like those in Quebec may be the answer.

At the end of the day it is not for this writer, or the reader for that matter, to pass judgement or make suggestions. That is for those who develop the program. Our job is too simply: support and cheer regardless of the place or medal status.




Anonymous said...

It has shown for a second time, that no. Jim means no gold.

The international scene is very balanced without the "Jim effect".

While I wish him a speedy and full recovery, his presence only results in Canada Gold.

Perhaps it is time to retire.......and coach internationally?

Anonymous said...

It is not just about Jim which is a fact no Jim no gold.

But it was and has been the same since the start.

When Chris was there , Canada got to the podium every time but once. He left they tried and failed.

They went out and got Jim and now like stated above no Jim they have finished near the bottom of the pack each time.

So who is next Ferby, Howard, they are going to need someone.

Hey maybe a NEW Coach who does not shut out players who can make a difference. Maybe the politics needs to go away and they use what this country has to be great again.

Let past players have a chance and current players be give a chance!

Anonymous said...

Is there a coaching issue? Two of the highest profile teams, Canada and Scotland, both had poor results, with likely the largest budgets.

Joe has shown success over the years, obviously due to Jim's involvement, while Tony 's results have been even more sporadic.

The sport should be gaining enough maturity that surely the athletes can be performing at a competitive level virtually all the time, rather than ten years ago, when a team would simply follow the mandates of the coach. I am sure Jennifer Jones and Brad Jacobs would perform well with or without the luxury of a coach, yet in wheelchair curling, the only certainty is if Jim is playing.

Anonymous said...

I TOTALLY AGREE with the last comment! There are players at Nationals who are far more talented than some current members of team Canada. Why not take a good serious look at the field out there and make some changes. Mark did an excellent job of skipping in my opinion but if the shots are not made it is for not. Time for a complete over haul....players AND coach! As last comment said...put politics and playing favorites aside for once and be FAIR!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with some of the above statements. I think it is time to get the National Program a bit more transparent and accountable. How does one get picked to practise or tryout for the team ? Why does the Quebec team have the D cards when they are second best team in country ? I know with Jim not being available stressed the team But with the skip throwing Lead rocks and everyone moving up a spot, that just put them out of contention They proved that in Vancouver at RCD and Ottawa at Cathy Kerr with losses to Canadian teams. If CCA is happy with sixth place then maybe they should be sending National Champs, I think with CCA support any of the last three Champs would have represented Canada just as well as what we just saw.

Anonymous said...

So, an interesting exercise would be to name the best Team Canada available, position by position.

Anonymous said...

Any team would have to include Jim (assuming healthy), and Ina, ideally playing second.

Anonymous said...

I agree but these days there are tons of others that can fill the other spots as well

Anonymous said...

Let's name players to, say, two top teams.

Anonymous said...

Age of potential players should be a consideration. Assuming Jim returns, it is hard to imagine him past 2018.
The team needs someone that can benefit from his experience, and carry on post 2018.

Mark could be the answer, but seems to be a concern with him throwing last rocks.

Anonymous said...

How about Jim, Ina, Darwin Bender, Carl Marquis, Gerry Austgarten?

Anonymous said...

Gerry Austgarden are you kidding me!!!!!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Gerry ROFLMAF!!!

All I can say, 50 better player then him OMG!

Anonymous said...

Hey how about Jim, Chris, Ina and Sonja with Carl as back up!

At least you would have the 2 guys that have won for Canada playing together!

If not Chris, then Bruno, or Daryl!

Anonymous said...

Darryl is too old, as is Bruno. Chris has been away too long, UNLESS Jim is prepared to take him under his wing, and he can sell himself to CCA that he has changed attitude.

IF Jim returns, 2018 is not far away, and. It is time to tutor SOMEONE soon.

Anonymous said...


1. Has Chris been away to long

2. Would Jim take him under his wing.

We know he can play, without question he can play. I can't see getting him up to speed taking to long.


Has his attitude changed enough. I know it has changed but has it changed enough.

He has stayed with the game through his blog and commentating at Sochi and what not. But...

Does any one know what is attitude is like now a days; can he even play after the cancer thing he just went though?

Anonymous said...

I believe most of the staff that Chris was at odds with are gone or phasing out. Wendy is now coaching Jennifer Jones, with limited impact on this Program. Joe is still around, but from what has been seen the last couple of seasons, is spending less time. It appears Jim continues as "unofficial" coach, with Wayne supporting. Don't know where Ottawa stands on Chris.

Has anyone had candid conversation with any of the team?

Anonymous said...

If Jim can come back from illness, I doubt CCA will take a chance on Chris......Canada will be back on the podium, without a risk.

Anonymous said...

Oh I don't agree, Chris has been working with the CCA for years. he does a fair bit of work for them.

And not just with Nationals. I know he has invested thousands of $$$$ of his own money in promoting our sport world wide when the CCA has focused there funds solely on the National program.

No offence but with Chris and Jim being the only one who have meddled at skip should we not at least take a look again. I spoke with him and his attitude has changed from what 8 years ago. Come on take the guy for who he is today not who he was.

He has taken so much abuse , I am not sure why he does it any more any ways. I don;t think he has aspirations of Team Canada just the sport but at least he can play. I saw him and Jim practice together and he beat Jim.

He has passion to support ALL of us and the sport when other don't!

Cut him a break finally!

Anonymous said...

UNLESS the entire Program was gutted, and full tryouts were available, with objective and meaningful assessment, I do not see Chris with a shot.

Joe remains, on paper, anyway, as "Head Coach", and would vetoe any suggestion Chris returning.

IF JIM returns, he can ride another quadrennial of coaching awards, then retire when Jim retires, as the most successful coach in Canada.

I do not foresee wholesale change prior to 2018.....

Al Jensen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Wheelchair Blog 2 said...

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Anonymous said...

To Corrine:

Unfortunately, if you want yourself, or this sport to be considered nationally or internationally competitive, changing players is a common occurrence.

Val Sweeting is on her third third of the season, and virtually every competitive ABle Bodied team went through transformation over last summer.

Timing is sometimes unfortunate, but your situation certainly is not.

If you had bad experiences with Gerry previously, why would you have agreed to play in the first place?

If you want to be competitive, suck it up and move on.

How do you think Chris Daw felt when he was invited to take a "temporary retirement" from Team Canada?

I have not heard any whining about being unfairly dealt with directly from him.

Al Jensen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Wheelchair Blog 2 said...


Over the last couple of days a few comments have been somewhat negative in nature and to that respect very close to defamation on a few people.

Although we have posted them, a few more have come in and at this point regardless of the additional and countless comments I am about to receive I will not post and be removing posts accordingly.

I would like to personal apologize to Mr. Cormack, Mr. Austgarden and Mr. Neighbor for these comments being posted and assure you they will not be posted in the future.

I take a fair amount of abuse regarding comments and what not on here and not everyone has to like what I and may even question why I do it.

But at least I do.

Regarding Mrs. Jensen' response to the current comment both about myself and others.

The comment will not be posted but we do invite you to continue make contributions to the blog 2 in a positive manner.

Anonymous said...

talk about favorites??? Dennis Thiessen had Rob Lamb ( Joes buddy) get him on the team. He has proven he is the weakest link on the team and we ALL know there are MANY more who could fill his spot and do a much better job. Being on Team Canada at the moment is truly not a proud accomplishment but rather more like being the teachers pet.

Anonymous said...

Good decisions, Chris.

Too many times over the years we have seen these forums dissolve into hurtful mudslinging.

Perhaps back to one of the original questions.....let's SELECT a Team Canada A and B Team. It will be interesting to see what players "on the ice" see....

Let's start with our original Team Canada, and see how it changes.

Anonymous said...

Canada A.......Team as is, with Mark and Sonja exchanging places, Jim skipping

Canada B

Vice....Darwin Bender
Lead......Marie Wright
Fifth.......Carl Marquis

Anonymous said...

I agree with the Team Canada A from the last comment however try this for team Canada B since Jim could not skip both teams in a head to head.

Skip - Chris Daw
Vice - Carl Marquis
Second - Gill Dash or Darwin Bender
Lead - Marie Wright or Johanne Daly
Fifth - Katie P. (from Ontario)

That way you have 2 experienced guys, Daw can learn from Armstrong both guys have meddled and are cool under pressure. You may want to remove Denise and put in Munro or Bender from the current Team Canada A

If Daw is not a team player now, just remove him.

And by the way Katie P. out of Ontario is one of the most under valued players in the game today. Given some development should could be Ina's replacement.

Anonymous said...

Good suggestions.

I SUSPECT Chris is not likely interested in considering a return under the still present staff......

So, remove Chris, and slide everyone up a position?

Is Carl too emotional to skip? Maybe Benoit?

Anonymous said...

I guess only 3 people can answer a possible return of Chris.

Gerry Peckham

With the knowledge known the vote would be 2 against 1 even if Chris wanted to come back, but only he would know that.

Jim would have to rally for his return and even then.

As for Benny skipping, I am not sure he could handle the pressure on an international stage (no offence) he is much like Denise. He also is a little slow in seeing what is happening before he gets in trouble.

He can make the "hell mary" save shots by why even get to that point.

Also; would having Chris come back not piss the world off of those in the sport today?

Anonymous said...

I personally do not know how Chris is perceived by the rest of the wheelchair curling fraternity. If your concern is that his return would be disruptive internationally, who cares?
If his return is not liked within Canada, different issue.

So, ignoring Chris, who skips after Jim?

Anonymous said...

I do not know Chris well, but what I have seen, he is a changed person from a few years ago.

HOWEVER, for whatever reason, he burned a lot of bridges back then.

As long as the CCA has the comfort of Jim returning, medals are assured, and why take a risk? The Program's success post Chris negates his chance of return, even if he wants to.

It will be interesting to see how much Own the Podium cuts it's support after a result like Finland.

Anonymous said...

If Jim does not return, then I hope he gets a contract as a "consultant" or coach.

That may open the door for Chris.......who will skip after Jim?

Dennis won a National championship skipping, but I cannot see him successful internationally. Similarly, Mark's debut might have potential, but certainly not immediately.

Anonymous said...

I was surprised to learn that you decided to remove Mrs. Jensen's comments with respect to her being cut from the Austgarden team but you allowed additional comments to remain concerning Gerry, with some of the wording being very offensive. At least Mrs. Jensen put her name to her comments while the others were put in anonymously. By standing by her comments, there must be some truth to her story.
As for those who continue to support Armstrong and feel that he should be a part of the National Team, I don't agree. Even though he has won a number of medals, it appears that many have forgotten that he pleaded guilty to possessing drugs for the purpose and also took illegal drugs wherein he was banned from the sport for originally nine months. In the end this was reduced to three months but at his appeal, he stated that he knew nothing about drugs but as a dentist, he could prescribe to his patients any sort of drugs. Had it not been that he is friends of people in high places in the curling program, he would have been sent packing. If that had been one of us, the outcome would have been different and we would not have been heard of again. As for keeping Jim on, are we to continue to support bad behavior while letting some of our young talent quit because there is little or no movement for them to advance? Do we not have any others that can do the job of playing at the international level?
As for the National program, I have read many comments that have been posted, some of which I somewhat agree with. A number of people feel that you Chris should be recruited again and be selected back in to the pool of athletes for the National Team. I don't know who is showing you this support but maybe this comes from someone close to you or a friend. If you are serious about coming back, why not put a team together and play in your Provincial playdowns. This would allow all of us to see if you still have the skills to lead a team to the podium. As a number of years have passed since the naming of players to the National Team, only a few have ever had the opportunity of enjoying the privilege of trying out. Unless there is a major shakeup to the program, things will not change. I agree with some, the winner of the Nationals should be the team to represent Canada at any World's or Paralympics. Over the years with no changes, the number of teams competing in their respective Provincials, has dropped. Just look at both the Ontario and Northern Ontario Provincials in the past couple of years. Both down. Lets approached our curling associations and get them to push for changes to the Wheelchair Curling. Unless our voices are heard, nothing is going to change.

Wheelchair Blog 2 said...

Hello to all;

I would like to respond to the comment from above to clear a few things up.

1. Writer your right! A few of the comments were allowed to stand and upon review we did remove one more. This was an oversight on my part and I apologize to the readers and to Mr. Austgarden.

2. As most of you know I have been recovering from cancer. What most of you don't know is that it was two forms of cancer. Kidney and a small brain tumor. I am cancer free now but have good days and some bad days. In my absence over the last little while, volunteers have been doing there best to keep up with things and get things posted. Again; they are volunteer as am I; gathering the stories and doing one LIVE cast per year in order to get you guys what we think you deserve; a single place for information/knowledge/sharing and the best coverage that can be provided.

We do miss things! We make judgement calls on what should or should not be posted but we are not expressing our opinions we are doing our best.

It has come to a point where we were advised by legal counsel to post a disclaimer. So please read it!

3. I have no status report on Jim's health nor do I intend on "hunting it down" Jim has personal health issue and this is time he requires to recover and heal. I know Jim well and may even be bold enough to call him a friend. Morgan and I wish him best during this difficult time. Trust me I know what he is going though.

4. Many people believe that comments left in support of me or a return to the program are written by me. Narcissism is serious something I am not into. Believe it or not I do have friends and I do have those that support me who are not family or friends.

5. The commentator above suggested I put a team together. I have no interest at this time to return to the game other than that as a fan or commentator. I play in leagues all the time or I did before my illness but right now my immediate future is focused on healing, family and a move from Ontario. Yes, we are moving again!

Lastly; the program as a whole (not just Team Canada) has evolved over the years and evolution is a slow process. It takes time for the program both provincially and nationally to grow. By all observations in provinces the programs (respectfully speaking) seem to have stalled or begun to stall. We generally see the same teams play off each year with the same make up and in some cases there are only enough players to make one team. Welcome to wheelchair curling. This is just the fact. There are some countries which fight in order to maintain team and others which want to but can’t. We are lucky to have more than 200 wheelchair curlers actively playing our game.

That is why it is important for something like this blog or live casting of the Nationals to exist. It is a collective voice that we can grow the sport. Only though expanded and collective exposure that we can continue to survive and thrive. So send us your information and we will post it. Send us your results, when playdowns are, if you’re having a bonspiel.

Ultimately; this blog or website is for you made up by you!

Sorry for the long winded comment but I want to clear these things up!

Anonymous said...

Your points are noted Chris.

Wish you well in your recovery, hope to see you at nationals. I know I appreciated the coverage.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Chris,

You are moving? Where to? When?

Best of luck, my friend!

Regarding the previous poster regarding Armstrong, many of your facts are inaccurate. Simply go and read the Appeal decision. The original sanction was eighteen months, not nine....that was one of the reasons it was reduced.....it did not meet the offence. Further, it was reduced to six months, which perfectly coincided with the appeal decision....the sanction was over when the decision was announced. Further, there was no admission by him that "he knew nothing about drugs". He was unaware he had ingested Tomoxafin, which could not improve his performance anyway.

Slam him, but get your facts right.

Best of luck, Chris, wherever life takes you and your family.