Against The Bias

One player's perspective in the great Sport of Bowls


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Canadian Championships - preview

Posted by Dr John Aveline on August 17, 2014 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (0)

The Canadian 'Major' Championships are about to start and, since almost the entire 18 player squad is from the V&D, I thought I should have a look at each event and see what Team BC faces in its quest for gold.


Men's Fours: Cary Manns, Vince Mai, Kin On Lau & Clement Law have the skills and experience to hoist the trophy and they'll need it. There are some quality teams out there including Alberta A (Lyall Adams & Pat Bird), Saskatchewan (Doug Propp & Mark Sutyla) and Ontario A (Mark Sanford & the Whyte brothers). Not to be forgotten are Ontario B (Brad Fleming) & Nova Scotia (Terry O'Neil). The trick will be for the team to pull in the same direction. I would say they have the best line-up in the event.


Men's Triples: BC has an interesting team of German Santana, George Cubiss & Malcolm Taylor. Having the provincial singles champion as lead, makes you formidable. Add probably the most experienced majors 'rookie' in George Cubiss and German Santana, one of the most consistent bowlers in BC and you have all the parts for a gold medal trio. Their main challenge will come from Saskatchewan (Roney, Scott & Wilkie). New Brunswick and Ontario B are also top contenders. The most interesting team is Ontario A - McCartney, Wood & Terwillegar - a team that would have been really tough 25 years ago. But now?


Men's Pairs: Ah, 1/2 of the silver medal fours team that I was on do battle for BC - Jon Braun & Jamie McGowan. Their main opponents are Saskatchewan's Pituley brothers and Beazer and Oggie from Nova Scotia. Both Alberta teams could be sticky as well. If Jamie has his A game, look out! In the provincials these guys dominated, playing only one match to the full 18 ends in their undefeated run.


Women's Fours: Can you say powerhouse? Marlene Cleutinx, Josephine Lee, Sandy Yau & Rita Patterson fit the bill. They are the favourites, but there are very good challengers. Both Ontario teams are tough: Kelly McKerihen's foursome is really co-favourites, Marg Lepere's team is also tough (both skips are Commonwealth Games athletes). Also in the mix are Nova Scotia (lead Jackie Foster also competed in the 2014 CWG) and Saskatchewan (skip Jean Roney has 14 year old Jordan Kos as vice!).


Women's Triples: The trips have lots of experience at the Nationals and lots of talent. Mary Wright, Belle Chan & Ann Van Basteleare have the 'juice' to stand at the top of the podium and they'll need it. Manitoba's triples has Shirley Fitz and her mum Clarice. Alberta's trio has Claire Day and Amanda Berg. But the team to beat is Harriette Pituley, Rachel Larson & Fran Scott. The road to gold goes through this troika.


Women's Pairs: Reigning provincial gold medalist Marie Taylor takes Nationals rookie Nancy Leung under wing to Manitoba. Nancy is a very steady bowler. If she overcomes any nerves she might have, Marie's proven skills can take them a long way. Any end can be salvaged with a draw to the jack and it seems that Marie can do that whenever she wants.


BTW, to keep up with the Nationals, check out the Bowls Canada webpage.


2014 Commonwealth Games - Day 1 - Oops!

Posted by Dr John Aveline on July 25, 2014 at 3:00 AM Comments comments (0)

For those of us who are keeping a close eye on the squad in Glasgow at the Commonwealth Games, I imagine there is some surpirse at the first day's results.  Not that they're terrible; but they're not overly brilliant either.  Now I'm not knocking the team; hey, I'm not even there, so there are undoubtedly factors of which I know nothing.  But I do know that the 10 in Glasgow are the best we've got AND they've proven they can win against top opposition AND they are playing on greens that are just like back home AND this is mid-season for all of Northern Hemisphere folks AND the squad arrived well in advance make the time shift and really gel as a team.  I'm afraid all that raises the expectations pretty high.

Instead, the men's pairs and triples are 1-1 and the women have yet to win a game.

The men's pairs started well with a 20-15 win against Samoa, but followed that with a 10-16 loss to Papua New Guinea.  The trips also right footed with an 18-11 win over Norfolk Islands, but then dropped a clanger 10-28 to Jersey.  Kells in the singles had two heart-breakers: 20-21 and 18-21, but against Cook Islands and Papua New Guinea.  I can't imagine she expected to lose to either.  The women's fours were the only ones to take on a top tier team and dropped an 11-21 score the England.

Anyway, I think we can expect our team to step on the gas a bit tomorrow (which is to say, today).  At the selection camp, all the horses were a bit slow out of the gate, but then really came on as the matches against the Scots proceeded.  I know they have engines to do it.

Some reflections on the CWG Selection Camp

Posted by Dr John Aveline on March 5, 2014 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Now that the time flip from Florida to B.C. has mostly been absorbed, I have the time to share a few reflections and tidbits from the Commonwealth Games Team Selection Camp.  In no particular order:

+ For those who wanted to follow the results of the matches between Canada and Scotland, officially there weren't any.  It was part of my life-long learning curve that World Bowls get a licencing fee for any International Competition, including officially sanctioned Test Matches.  The fee is in the $1,000's (don't know exactly how many).  Also, since the matches were being played in the U.S., the host nation might have felt a bit slighted at not being invited or involved.  So the matches were 'unofficial'.  They still mattered, but they were part of each team's selection process and so were like the inter-squad games that an NHL team will play during the pre-season.

+ Having said that, the selectors certainly kept tabs on how the athletes performed and I can tell you that the first win on the women's side was picked up by 18 year old Pricilla Westlake who defeated Lauren Baillie 21-19 in singles in round #2.  Impressive debut in only her second international match (her first was leading in the pairs for Mary Ann Beath and was a competitive 17-19 loss).

+ Everyone had a least one very impressive match and one struggle.  The biggest result was Kevin Jones 21-8 defeat of Alex Marshall.  Big Kev is very motivated to compete for Canada.

Commonwealth Games Selection Camp

Posted by Dr John Aveline on March 2, 2014 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (0)

First, my apologies for not posting for ages.  I have had lots to say, but no time to say it.  This was especially true at the just completed Selection Camp to determine the Canadian Bowls team who will compete in Glasgow at the Commonwealth Games in July.  The athletes threw a lot of high intensity, high pressure bowls over the course of 8 days, but we on the selection committee also managed to stay out of mischief.  A typical day for your scribbler started at 7:00 am and ended at 12:00 midnight (the record was 1:30 am ending to the day).  I'll have lots of insights to share in the near future, but I will say one or two things right here.

As Canadians and bowlers we should be so proud (and so aware) of our High Performance Squad.  They paid their own way down here to Sarasota and paid for their accommodations for the right to represent their country in the top event in the Sport of Bowls.  Everyone displayed true Canadian sportsmanship, dedication and determination.  They also demonstrated a real desire to take their games to the next level.  We selectors just watched; they performed.  The way I see it: The athletes told the story, we just wrote it down.

So, in a very short time, we will hear the annoucement of the Team that will be competing in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.  Those athletes will have a lot of training and preparation to do.  I congratulate every one of the 26 athletes who attended camp and showed what they had (which was a lot).  I expect that whether they compete in Glasgow, or not, they will each have a banner year in 2014.

8 Nations Cup - Day 1

Posted by Dr John Aveline on August 27, 2013 at 4:50 AM Comments comments (0)

It's late (so late that they're probably bowling Day 2 as I type), so I'll make this short.  A full mix of results on Day 1.

Men's Triples lead the way for the squad with a perfect 3-0 record (over Malaysia, Scotland & South Africa)

Men's Pairs and Women's Fours sport identical 1-2 records while Women's Singles has struggled out of the gate and are winless at 0-3.

Curious tidbit: the Scots have labeled the genders "Gents" and "Ladies".  No offence, but that is a little 19th century.  Are any other of the Commonwealth sports following suit?

BTW, the link to the Bowls Scotland website for results is


8 Nations Cup

Posted by Dr John Aveline on August 26, 2013 at 4:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Well folks, just when you thought that the Canadian Championships were the climax to the season, we've got something to top it.  The 8 Nations Cup will feature the top 7 bowls nations in the world in a tune-up for the Commonwealth Games.  I say 7, because Scotland is fielding 2 squads.

Canada has sent its "A" Team to this one:

Ryan Bester, John Bezear, George Whitelaw, Chris Stadnyk, Steve McKerihen

Kelly McKerihen, Mary-Ann Beath, Marg Lepere, Jackie Foster, Amanda Berg


Go get 'em!

Canadian Championships

Posted by Dr John Aveline on August 26, 2013 at 4:10 AM Comments comments (0)

My apologies for skipping over the finish of the Canadian Championships, but a big congrats to all the B.C. team that represented every bowler in the province to the best of their ability.  Final outcome:

Bronze in Women's Fours (On Kow, Rainbow, Lisa and Gigi)

Silver in Women's Triples (Diane, Jenny, Shirley)

Silver in Men's Triples (German, Malcolm, Mel)

Silver in Men's Pairs (Kin On, Francis)

Gold in Men's Fours (Chris, Dave, Stanley, James)

Cy English goes to team BC'B'

Canadian Champioships - midpoint

Posted by Dr John Aveline on August 21, 2013 at 5:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Here it is Wednesday afternoon and not a word yet about the Nationals?  Unforgiveable.  Let's fix that now!

So, who's hot and who's not?  Who has surprised - for good or for ill?

Men's Pairs - We're not surprised to see Kevin Jones/James Covell sharing a 5-0 record with Jon Pituley/Alex Scott.  More of a surprise is the 2-2 record of Bhartu & Mason, who lost on the last bowl to Manitoba (and their 15 year old lead, who called the winning shot).  Sitting third in the group of BC'B'.  But then skip Kin On Lau is the Canadian Singles Bronze medalist and his lead, Francis Yau is always dangerous and always upbeat.  Oops, they just updated the site and Hiren & Tim won over Lau & Yau to jump past them for 3rd.

Women's Pairs - this is the toughest group (there is always a grupo de morte at the Canadians).  Clarice Fitz just took her first loss, but still first (4-1).  Cecilia Gillepsie of Aberta has shot from 1-1-1 to 3-1-1 to hold 2nd.  There is a 3-way tie for third shared by the Ontario teams and Debbie Foster of NS.  The two BC teams are 2-3 and struggling a bit more than expected.  Mary Wright and Belle Chan have been before a few times and Belle is having a very good season.  The BC'B" team of Barb Gandy & Nancy Speers hoped to have a coming out party.  They have been a strong duo in the V&D for some years and they are on home turf.  So far things have not quite gone to plan.  Still, the North Van duo beat their BC'A' counterparts to catch up to Belle & Mary.

Men's Triples - the event nearest to my heart, with our Kerrisdale guys in it.  They had a brilliant start with a 22-5 win, but it has been a struggle for an injured skip and two novice bowlers.  Bob, Jon & Graham have gone 0-4 and sit at the bottom.  Their most recent loss was a 7-14 defeat to BC'B' who gained some revenge for the 18-6 gold medal game.  BC'B' now sit tied for 3rd behind Sask - a good trio with Keith Roney & Duncan Holness and the somewhat surprisingly undefeated New Brunswick team.

Women's Triples - another event I've been watching with Diane Fulton and Shirley Choy on the 'A' team and Josey and Rita Patterson on the 'B's.  Diane made it 3 for 4 with a 18-14 win which has created a 3-way tie at the top with Alberta, all at  4-1.  I expected the two BC teams to contend for gold and they haven't disappointed.

Men's Fours - this event has a lot of new faces for BC.  In fact, six of the eight BC players are debuting at the majors (only Chris Grahame and Dave Baldwin have been here before).  Chris and Dave, with Stanley Chow and his son-in-law James Chen (BC'B') are enjoying a perfect 5-0 run to start the tournament after a 26-15 win over Gord, Joe, Gord & Glen.  The 'A' team, like the Men's 'A' Triples have struggled mightily since their opening round win and are 1-4.  Ontario 'A' are second and then a group sit 3-2.

Women's Fours - here B.C. had the favoured 'A' team of On Kow and the surprising 'B' team from Parksville.  On won here interprovincial match against the Parkville quartet (repeating their gold win at the provincials) and shares a crowded top spot at 4-1 with NS, Ont, & Sask.  The Parksville women have also had a bit of rough introduction to Nationals play and have a 1-4 record.

Phew - time to pick up my daughter from sailing!  Cheers!

Canadian Champiosnhips - Preview

Posted by Dr John Aveline on August 19, 2013 at 3:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Tomorrow morning (okay, technically this morning) the first round of the Canadian Championships begins and so this is my last chance to do some handicapping and point out some killer matches you can look forward to and/or should get your butt down to the host venues (North & West Van) to watch.

Of course I am closely watching all the BC A Men's & Women's Triples.  The former has two of our guys from Kerrisdale (and it's been at least a quarter of a century since anyone could say that!) - go Jon & Graham.  The latter is skipped by our dear friend Diane Fulton and the lead is Shirley Choy, both of whom my wife Cathie and I first coached.  But who is everyone watching?

In the Men's Fours Saskatchewan has a solid crew lead by Ernie Meid, skipped by Doug Propp and with Mark Sutyla somewhere in the middle there.  Their main challengers will be BC 'B', skipped by Chris Grahame and Nova Scotia which has Steve Ogden, Steve Bezanson & Terry O'Neil all crammed onto one team.

My guys on BC 'A' will face their stiffest competition in the Men's Triples from Alberta (Lyle Adams, Pat Bird & Dave Cox), Saskatchewan (Keith Roney, Duncan Holness, Grant Wilkie) and Ont 'A' (Wayne Wright, Jim Roth, Bob North).

The Men's Pairs has three really good, really interesting teams: HIren Bhartu & Tim Mason (BC 'A'), Jon Pituley & Alex Scott (Sask) and Kevin Jones & James Covell (Ont 'B').  The matches that pit any two of these together is a must see!

The Women's Pairs is the toughest field in the tournament.  Laila Hassan & Crystal Shephard from Ontario, Clarice Fitzpatrick & Marilyn Baron from Manitoba, Cecilia Gillespie and Gayell Slater from Alberta will be putting our two BC teams to the test.  But our BC teams are plenty tough.  Nancy Speers & Barb Gandy have been a top team for a number of years and finally get to let everyone see that at the "Big Show".  Belle Chan & Mary Wright have both been here before and have high expectations.

The Women's Triples, by contrast, is looking like a B.C. dominated event (although the rest of Canada will have something to say about that).  Still it's tough to top Diane Fulton, Jenny Siu & 2006 World Indoor Singles Champion Shirley Choi on the one hand and Marlene Cleutinx, Joephine Lee & Rita Patterson on the other.  Finals anyone?

Finally, the Women's Fours has three likely quartets: BC 'A', skipped by On Kow Au, Saskatchewan skipped by Harriette Pituley and Ontario 'B', which is an all National Team squad (Laura Seed, Laura Hudson, Lisa McKerihen & Heather Battles).

Now for those planning their championships schedule, here are the "Games To Watch".

Monday AM:  NV   Women's Pairs - BCA vs Man;  Men's Triples - OntA vs Sask

Monday PM:  NV   Women's Pairs - BCA vs OntA

                      WV   Men's Fours - NS vs BCB

Tuesday AM:   WV   Women's Pairs - Man vs BCB

Tuesday PM:   NV   Men's Pairs - BCA vs Sask

                         WV   Women's Pairs - Alta vs BCB

Wednesday AM:   NV   Women's Pairs & Triples - BCA vs BCB

                              WV   Men's Triples - Ont A vs Alta;  Women's Pairs - OntA vs Alta

Wednesday PM:   NV   Men's Fours - BCB vs Sask

                              WV   Women's Piars - Man vs OntA

Thursday AM:   WV   Men's Fours - Sask vs NS; Women's Pairs - OntA vs BCB; Women's Fours - BCA vs OntB

Thursday PM:   NV   Women's Pairs - Man vs Alta; Men's Pairs - OntB vs Sask

Friday AM:   NV   Women's Pairs - BCA vs Alta

Of course you may have your favourite team and some matches may develop into brilliant games, but these are may pre-event picks.

See you up on the North Shore!!

Friday AM:  


What is like to be on the High Performance Committee

Posted by Dr John Aveline on August 15, 2013 at 3:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Someone came up to me just this evening and said that it had been some time since my last post.  I was so startled that someone was willing to admit that they read these ramblings that I felt honour-bound to inflict more upon the general public.  A good topic is the High Performance Committee (what are commonly referred to as "the selectors" of the Canadian National Team.  Having spent about 15 years on the outside looking longingly in and then 2 years in the coveted hot-seat competing for Canada, I now find myself on the HPC.  I would like to offer a peek into the committee's work.

The most (in)famous task of the HPC is the select which bowlers are to be on the national team and then decide which team members are to play in which events.  So far that has been the least of our work.  I have taken on the task of minute taking, information gathering and institutional memory (ooh, the sexy stuff!!).  But what are the committee's tasks to date?

Well, we have to (re)create HPC's policies.  How do we decide which events are team members will play in?  What are the criteria we use for selection to the team and to various events?  What will be the alcohol policy?  The travel policy?  The social media policy?  It seems like a lot of administrative fiddling about, but it is necessary.  We hope to create a framework that will be good enough to be around after we have all outlived our usefulness on the committee.  Speaking of we, the we of the HPC has been a very pleasant experience.  The five current members are a diverse group (Don Caswell, Vince Mai, Bob North, George Boxwell and yours truly).  Then there's the interim coach, Dave Mathie as well as the two player reps: Pat Bird and Jackie Foster.

We only started meeting in early July, but we have already met four times.  There is not really anything that we have been able to do yet, upon which our efforts may be judged, but I can tell you that the horses are all pulling in the same direction (which is always useful) and that we are applying to ourselves the same standard of commitment and excellence that we expect from our athletes.

I am looking forward to catching some of the action of the Canadian Championships this coming week and doing one of the more widely recognized jobs of an HPC member.  IN the meantime, I am filling player profiles for our two women athletes who are competing in the Hong Kong Classic - one of the less well known tasks.

Cheers and keeping them rolling with the small circle on the inside!