In the wake of an independent third-party high performance review focused on finding success on pebble ice once again, Curling Canada CEO Katherine Henderson says it’s time for a change.
“Everything is on the table. No one has anything to fear. Everything will be for the best and change will be handled well. But I’ve heard clearly from our athletes and staff that they believe change is necessary,” Henderson said. .
“There are a lot of ideas about how to improve. And some opposing views. But we all believe we need change and people want to be a part of it.”
That led to this review which has now been completed and distributed to those who participated.
The review began in August and was completed by the end of October: elite curlers, top performing Curling Canada staff and other stakeholders were asked a series of questions about the state of curling in Canada and what people he thought he might be limiting the country’s success. lately in international events.
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Third-party review allowed curlers and other participants to remain anonymous when responding; Henderson says the responses were candid and forceful at times. She says there was a wide range of entrants, including the elite rollers, wheelchair rollers, mixed doubles rollers teams and teams, all of different ages.
In general, the questions in the review focused on the broader systemic and cultural issues surrounding curling in the country and what changes could be made to improve performance.
“There are pieces that we can talk about and there are pieces that are competitive that we don’t want published,” Henderson said.
Some specific things Henderson was willing to talk about were residency rules and the date of the Olympic trials.
She says that both hot topics are certainly being discussed and there could be changes.
“Residency is something that we’re going to have a conversation about in the next few minutes to see if we’re doing it the right way,” Henderson said.
Henderson said many of the athletes wish it wasn’t a problem and would be willing to play wherever they wanted; there are successful examples of this in many other countries, including the British model which has centralized all athletes in one training centre.
“We have interprovincial competitions here. It’s really important for our member associations,” Henderson said.
Addressing poor Olympic performance
The timing of the Olympic trials has been in the spotlight of late after only three medals have been produced in the last two Winter Games for Canada.
Many have argued that the dates of the trials should be moved. Currently, the trials take place only a few months before the start of the Olympic Games, which some consider to be not enough time for teams to prepare properly.
One suggestion that has been raised is to delay testing for a significant amount of time to allow athletes to better prepare for the big stage.
Again, Henderson says this is something that will be up for discussion.
“Probably at the end of April we would have to announce to make sure that people can prepare their rosters,” he said when asked about the timetable for a decision.
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Curling Canada has yet to name a replacement for performance director Gerry Peckham. Peckham has been with the organization for more than 30 years.
“We will announce a replacement very soon,” Henderson said.
The new top-performing director will face a challenging task as Curling Canada attempts to restore itself as a powerhouse once again.
Since 2017, a men’s team had not won gold at the World Cup. And since 2018, a women’s team has not been on the top of the podium in the world championships.
“Our lodestar is that Canada should be a podium threat every time they go to an international event. We have the depth, the talent and the resources,” Henderson said.
“Canada is still a dominant nation when it comes to curling, but we haven’t medaled as consistently in the last five years.”
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