Thursday, January 3, 2013

Oregon kid caught in the middle

How is a curler in a wheelchair ineligible for both able-bodied AND wheelchair curling?
That’s the situation facing a young U.S. rock-tosser who has been left out on the cold by a decision from the United States Curling Association, according to this article in Oregon Live. 

Steven Roberts, 17, of the Evergreen Curling Club in Beaverton, Ore., was set to play down for a spot in the U.S. Junior Championship until the ruling from the American governing body.

The United States Curling Association ruled Dec. 28 that Roberts, who uses a wheelchair, violated curling rules with his method of “delivery” — how he projects the curling stone onto the ice.But Roberts also has been deemed too mobile to compete in wheelchair curling competitions. He can walk but has fragile bones and tendons due to a genetic disorder called osteogenesis imperfecta.

Roberts’ delivery can be seen in a video in the article but essentially he wheels down the sheet with the rock in his feet and then releases it. He’s quite accurate with his method and has had some success.
Why he falls through the cracks is that the rule for standard curling states that curlers must release the rock with their hands while the wheelchair rule says curlers can use a stick or hands.

Obviously this situation is quite unusual, but the situation was made even weirder when play started and Roberts’ Evergreen CC team faced off against a squad from the Denver CC.

In last weekend’s junior competition, Roberts was allowed to participate, but any stones he delivered were taken out of play. Denver won every game and will advance to the national championships in Massachusetts.“It’s very frustrating,” said Roberts, a senior at Hudson’s Bay High School.

So he threw the rocks but they took them out of play? I can’t think of anything more humiliating than that. What would be the point of allowing him to play but not counting his rocks?

Folks at Roberts’ curling club have taken up his cause but with the ruling from the USCA, have essentially been shut down. So there is the possibility of pursuing other ways to plead the case.

“If they were to make a rule change to allow me to curl, it would open the way for possibly hundreds of more junior curlers to be allowed to compete,” he said.Evergreen is considering other avenues to pursue Roberts’ case, Iwanick said.One option is pursuing the case in court as a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.“The United States Curling Association is not giving us appropriate solutions to our problem,” Roberts said. Referring to his delivery style, he added, “They are just rejecting it — pointing out everything that’s not legal about it — and basically saying I should not be allowed to compete.”The club may also pursue arbitration through the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.

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