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.