Curling Elite Amateur Sport

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Canadian Curling Hall of Famer Pierre Charette coaches Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni curling team at Olympics

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic

By Martin Cleary

The 2022 Winter Olympic Games women’s curling competition inside the Beijing National Aquatic Centre, a.k.a. The Ice Cube, is overrun with Canadians… Canadian coaches, that is.

Canada is well represented by the Jennifer Jones rink from Winnipeg along with her teammates third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jocelyn Peterman, lead Dawn McEwen (originally from Ottawa) and alternate Lisa Weagle of Ottawa. After the first three draws, Canada is in a five-way tie for third place at 1-1.

But if fans were allowed inside the building and carefully studied the off-ice participants of the round-robin games, they would notice a plethora of Canadian coaches in the background, concentrating on each shot and ready to provide important advice at a moment’s notice.

There are 10 teams in the women’s round-robin curling competition and six are supported by Canadian coaches (four male and two female) plus a Swedish-born coach living in Whitby, ON. Great Britain (Eve Muirhead) and China (Han Yu) have coaches from Sweden, while the Russian Olympic Committee team (Alina Kovaleva) has a coach from Russia.

As a long-time, world powerhouse in the sport, six countries looked to Canada for coaching guidance entering the Olympics – Sweden, Denmark, Japan, South Korea, the United States and Switzerland.

In the fall of 2018, the Jones team signed Sweden’s Viktor Kjaell of Whitby to serve as their coach and he’s part of Canada’s 2022 Olympic squad in Beijing.

Not surprisingly, these seven countries own the top seven places in the round-robin standings – Switzerland and the U.S. lead the pack at 3-0 each, while Sweden, Canada, Denmark, Japan and South Korea share third at 1-1 each.


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Wayne Middaugh of Victoria Harbour, ON., who has won three national men’s championship Briers and three world titles, has been coaching Anna Hasselborg’s Swedish rink for four years. Three of the Canadian coaches are from Calgary – Heather Rogers for Denmark (Madeleine Dupont), J.D. Lind for Japan (Satsuki Fujisawa) and Laine Peters for the United States (Tabitha Peterson).

The other two Canadian coaches are Peter Gallant of Charlottetown for South Korea (Kim Eun-jung) and Pierre Charette of Gatineau for Switzerland (Silvana Tirinzoni).

By comparison, only two countries in the 10-team men’s curling round-robin have coaches with Canadian connections – Jules Owchar of Edmonton and Jeff Thomas (No. 2 coach) for Canada, and Rogers for Denmark.

Charette has been a prominent member of the National Capital Region and Canadian curling communities for many decades. It’s not surprising he was inducted into the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame in 2016.

Pierre Charette. Photo: Curling Canada

In 2019, he was the coach for Tirinzoni’s rink, which won the bronze medal at the European women’s championship. Charette returned for the 2020-21 season and guided the Tirinzoni team to its second world championship in 2021.

A Canadian curling record holder, Charette, 65, is the first curler to play every position during his 13 Briers. He was Quebec’s skip in 1989, 1993 and 2007, the third for Guy Hemmings in 1998 and 1999, the second for Don Westphal in 1997, the lead for Westphal in 1996, and the alternate for Kevin Adams in 1991, Ted Butler in 1992 and Jean-Michel Menard in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017.

Although he has missed winning a Brier championship, he was a finalist with Hemmings at the 1998 and 1999 nationals. He was a first-team all-star in 1999 and a second-team all-star in 1998.

A seven-time Quebec champion, Charette won the Quebec men’s title for a Brier berth in 2007 the hard way, defeating Menard, the defending national champion and 2006 world silver-medallist. Charette also has been a part of three Quebec mixed and two men’s senior championship teams, mainly as a skip.

Charette also has become a well-respected coach, played a vital role in the development of the Grand Slam series as one of the Original 18 skips in 2001 and was president of the World Curling Players’ Association.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 49 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.

Martin can be reached by e-mail at martincleary51@gmail.com and on Twitter @martincleary.


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