OTTAWA, October 6, 2009…The Canadian Curling Association today announced the members of Canada’s Wheelchair Curling team for the 2010 Paralympic Games in Vancouver, March 12-21.
Five of the six team members are from British Columbia – skip Jim Armstrong and third Darryl Neighbour, both of Richmond, second Ina Forrest of Armstrong, lead Sonja Gaudet of Vernon and Coach Joe Rea of Prince George. The alternate is Bruno Yizek of Calgary.
The curling competition will take place March 13-20 at the Vancouver Olympic/Paralympic Centre, the same venue which will host the 2010 Olympic Winter Games curling competition the previous month, from February 16-27.
“Clearly, our entire nation is keenly anticipating the start of both the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Vancouver,” said Greg Stremlaw, Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Curling Association. “The Canadian Curling Association is very pleased to see the results of the comprehensive selection process for our 2010 Paralympic Curling Team. I would like to personally congratulate Jim, Darryl, Ina, Sonja, Bruno, and Coach Joe Rea. We are honored and proud to have you wear the maple leaf this coming March!”
Canada is not only the reigning World Wheelchair champion but it is also the defending Paralympic gold medallist. Last February, Armstrong, a former Brier competitor, skipped Canada to a first-ever gold medal at the 2009 World Wheelchair Championship, a 9-2 decision over Sweden, when the Vancouver Olympic/Paralympic Centre opened for the first time, prior to hosting the 2009 world junior men’s and women’s curling championships in March. Armstrong, Neighbour, Forrest and Gaudet along with Chris Sobkowicz from Winnipeg, were members of that winning team, which was coached by Rea.
In 2006, skip Chris Daw directed Canada to a gold medal at the Paralympic Games, when the curling competition took place in Pinerolo, at the same venue where, a month earlier, Brad Gushue, Mark Nichols, Russ Howard and Jamie Korab had teamed to win Canada’s first men’s Olympic gold medal in curling. Canada upset Great Britain, 7-4 in the 2006 Paralympic Games gold medal game. Gaudet was also a member of that team, playing lead for Daw.
“This has been a three-year journey in a comprehensive selection process,” said Wendy Morgan, National Wheelchair Program Manager. “It has been a difficult process at times, as it is not exclusively a skill-based decision but encompasses team dynamics, peer assessment, performance in competition and positional aptitude.
“We are very excited to have the opportunity to compete in Canada in 2010 and we are very aware of the expectations associated with our past successes and the fact that we are the ‘home team’. Our season plan reflects an emphasis on team building, wellness and technical competence, to be at our best come Games time in March.”
Team Canada will compete in International competitions in Norway and Scotland in October, Vancouver and Prague in November and then train domestically in the lead-up to the 2010 Paralympic Games.