The 13th Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship gets underway Monday, April 4, in the Callie Curling Club at Regina.
Ten teams, representing nine provinces plus Northern Ontario, play a round robin from Monday to Friday, April 8, followed by the Page playoff games — 1 vs. 2 on Friday at 7 p.m. (all times MDT) and 3 vs. 4 on Saturday at 10 a.m. The semifinal (loser of 1-2 vs. winner of 3-4) goes Saturday, April 9, at 3 p.m.
On Sunday, April 10, the bronze-medal game (loser of 3-4 vs. loser of semifinal) will be played at 11 a.m. while the championship gold-medal final (winner of 1-2 vs. semifinal winner) is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Live-streamed broadcasts of the 2016 Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship will be available at http://www.wcblog2.com/.
Last year, British Columbia, skipped by Gerry Austgarden, defeated Benoît Lessard of Quebec, 11-1 in the gold-medal final at Boucherville, Que. Also on the winning team was second Frank Labounty, who earned his fourth Canadian title and will skip the B.C. entry this year.
Among the challengers are Manitoba, with skip Dennis Thiessen and his 2014 Canadian champion team from Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club of third Mark Wherrett, second Jamie Anseeuw, lead Melissa Lecuyer and coach Tom Wherrett. Patricia Blanchard has joined the team as well this year.
Thiessen, who won a gold medal when playing second for Team Canada (skip Jim Armstrong) in the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games at Sochi, Russia, also played third for Armstrong when winning the 2013 World Wheelchair and was the third (Lecuyer was the second) for Chris Sobkowicz when winning the 2011 Canadian title at Edmonton.
Host Saskatchewan will be represented by skip Darwin Bender and his 2012 Canadian Wheelchair championship team of Gil Dash, Marie Wright, and Larry Schrader, who won gold at Thunder Bay, Ont.
Rounding out the field are Alberta (skip Jack Smart), New Brunswick (Michael Fitzgerald), Newfoundland and Labrador (Cecilia Carroll), Northern Ontario (Doug Dean), Nova Scotia (Trendal Hubley-Bolivar), Ontario (Collinda Joseph) and Quebec (Sébastien Boisvert). Boisvert won the 2013 Canadian championship at Ottawa when playing second for Lessard.
Alberta third Bruno Yizek was the alternate for Canada (skip Jim Armstrong) when winning gold medals in both the 2010 Paralympic Games at Vancouver and the 2011 World Wheelchair Curling Championship at Prague.
The Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship began in 2004. It was won the first three years by Team Canada (skip Chris Daw) in 2004, 2005 and 2006, then by British Columbia the next four — in 2007 (skip Darryl Neighbour), 2008 and 2009 (skip Jim Armstrong) and 2010 (skip Gary Cormack). Manitoba (skip Chris Sobkowicz) won its first of two titles in 2011, followed by Saskatchewan (skip Darwin Bender) in 2012, Quebec (skip Benoît Lessard) in 2013 and Manitoba (skip Dennis Thiessen) in 2014 at Boucherville, Quebec. British Columbia won its fifth crown last year.
The teams will practise on Sunday at the Callie from 2-5 p.m. The first draw is Monday at 12:30 p.m. The Opening Ceremonies begin at 6 p.m., followed by the second draw at 7 p.m. From Tuesday through Thursday, draws are at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. The final draw in the round robin takes place Friday at 10 a.m.
Draw results and event information can be found at http://www.curling.ca/2016wheelchair.