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Wheelchair Team Canada Training Camp Declared a Success

Friday Jan 23 2015

Curling’s Wheelchair Team Canada has completed its weekend camp at the Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club in Winnipeg and Coach Joe Rea has declared the camp to have been successful for several reasons.

Rea described the primary objective as having been to prepare for the upcoming world championship in Finland and said that objective has been achieved. This final preparation camp was particularly important as the team will be travelling without veteran skip Jim Armstrong, who was sidelined 2 weeks ago by health issues. Mark Ideson has been the team’s alternate but he has been prepared for the role of skip.

“For a couple of years, we have been working on an alternate line-up to prepare for just this kind of situation,” Rea explained. “Mark has been skipping in many of our training situations while Jim Armstrong skipped the opposition, allowing Jim to mentor him.”

Ideson, from Ontario, will call the game and throw lead stones while Ina Forrest-BC will throw the last rocks.

Acknowledging that it is not possible to replace a veteran like Jim Armstrong, Rea expressed confidence that the Team Canada will be competitive. “Certainly we’re stronger with Jim,” Rea said as the preparation camp was winding down. “However, it is still reasonable to expect to make the playoffs and that’s the first goal.” 

Rea also talked about the secondary objective accomplished by the camp. He explained that the team usually trains in Richmond BC but coming to Manitoba better spread the amount of travel required among all of the players – an important factor as they will all be travelling soon to Finland.

The coach explained that team member Dennis Thiessen had invited the group to come to Manitoba and said without reservation “Manitoba has been very good to us”.

Assiniboine Memorial’s junior program had their regular scheduled session Saturday at the club and Rea said the juniors were excited to meet the members of the Team Canada Paralympic Gold medal winning team. They also played games against Thiessen’s daughter’s junior women’s teams and against the Walter family (pictured).

“We played half a game with the junior women sweeping and half without. I think it was a good experience for them to understand the value of sweeping as well as the challenges of playing the game without sweeping (as the wheelchair athletes do),” Rey said.

The coach said he was pleased with the number of people who had come to the club to see Team Canada and watch them prepare for the world championship. With the involvement of the juniors and those fans, the exposure and the awareness of wheelchair curling which it created were an important secondary objective for the weekend.

Team Canada includes skip Mark Ideson-ON (lead stones), vice-skip Ina Forrest-BC (4th stones), third Dennis Thiessen-MB and second Sonja Gaudet-BC. All were members of the 2014 Paralympic Gold Medal winning team in Sochi, Russia. Marie Wright-SK has been added to the team line-up as alternate.

The Wheelchair World Championship begins in Finland, February 7. Team Canada travels to Finland on February 1.

(FRIDAY) Wheelchair Team Canada Training Camp Underway at Assiniboine - The members of Team Canada have assembled at Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club for their final preparations for the World Wheelchair Curling Championships in Finland, beginning February 7.           

Manitoba’s Paralympic Curling Gold Medallist Dennis Thiessen, who throws third stones for the team, is proud to host the event and to showcase his home club which been very welcoming to wheelchair curlers and which has made a considerable investment of time and money to make the club fully accessible.

Along with Thiessen, the team comprises skip Mark Ideson (ON), who will throw lead rocks, Ina Forrest (BC) and Sonja Gaudet (BC). Thiessen, Forrest, and Gaudet were members of the 2014 Gold Medal team while Ideson also earned a Gold Medal as the alternate. He replaces veteran skip Jim Armstrong, who has been sidelined by health issues.

Emulating the timeframes for the competition in Finland, Team Canada will held on-ice sessions at 9:30AM and 2:30PM Friday, and again Saturday and Sunday.

Members of the public are welcome to attend and observe. Opportunities will be available to meet team members and talk about wheelchair curling.

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