All about wheelchair curling: Canada’s early dominance now challenged

Canadian Paralympic Committee

February 16, 2022

Depth of international field continually growing with each Games


There was a time when Canada was money on the house for gold in wheelchair curling at the Paralympic Games. But as the international depth of field has increased, those days have passed and now the podium could come down to the last rock with multiple nations in contention for medals at the 2022 Winter Paralympics.

Head into the upcoming Beijing Games as a wheelchair curling expert, as we bring you up to speed on the sport below: 

Paralympic Origins 

Wheelchair curling began in Europe in the late 1990s and in North America in 2002. The first wheelchair curling world championships was held in Sursee, Switzerland in 2002, and was won by the host nation which beat Canada 7-6 in the final.
Wheelchair curling was introduced as a Paralympic medal sport in 2006. Canada asserted its dominance early, winning the first three gold medals in 2006, 2010, and 2014. In 2018, China ended Canada’s reign at the Games and will be one of the favourites again in Beijing. 

Sport Background 

In wheelchair curling, each team is mixed gender, and one female athlete must be on the ice at all times during the competition. Teams are composed of five athletes: a lead, second, vice-skip, skip, and alternate. 
A game consists of eight ends. In wheelchair curling there is no sweeping, which means each throw must be even more precise. The player’s wheelchair must be stationary during the throw and the stones can be thrown by hand or given an initial push with a cue.
If the teams are tied at the completion of eight ends, extra play continues for as many ends as required to break the tie.

Canadian Landscape  

Canada won gold in wheelchair curling at the sport’s first three Games in 2006, 2010, and in 2014 before finishing with the bronze in 2018. Joe Rea was the coach of all three champion teams and Sonja Gaudet, a member of the BC Sports Hall of Fame, was the lead each time. 

Jim Armstrong skipped Canada to both Games titles in 2010 and 2014. On that 2010 squad, current team member Ina Forrest made her first Paralympic appearance while fellow 2022 teammates Dennis Thiessen and current skip Mark Ideson celebrated gold at Sochi 2014 in their Games debuts. 

There are three returning members from the 2018 team that won bronze in South Korea: Ideson, Forrest and Thiessen, who will be joined in China by rookies Jon Thurston and Collinda Joseph.

Since PyeongChang, Canada has placed fifth, 10th, second, and fifth at the last four world championships with China (twice), Russia, and Norway reigning supreme. 

Can Crew Newsletter

Receive the latest news, athlete stories, and behind-the-scenes access directly to your inbox.

"*" indicates required fields