Canada aims for fifth consecutive Paralympic medal in wheelchair curling

Canadian Paralympic Committee

February 25, 2022

Competition for podium tougher than ever


With three gold and one bronze since wheelchair curling made its Paralympic Games debut in 2006, Canada is shooting for the podium once again at Beijing 2022.

Since the last Games in PyeongChang when it finished third, the Canadians have competed at three world championships. They placed 10th in 2019, second in 2020, and fifth in 2021. The champions those years were China in 2019 and 2021 and Russia in 2020.

The Canadians ice an experienced group in Beijing. Mark Ideson is headed to a third Paralympics and is the skip for a second straight Games. It’s a fourth Paralympics for Ina Forrest and a third for Dennis Thiessen.

The Paralympic rookies are last shot Jon Thurston and alternate Collinda Joseph. However, Thurston and Joseph have been part of Team Canada at the last three worlds.

Joseph told the Stittsville Central two weeks ago that the recent world championships in October was a confidence boost for Canada and showed they could beat the best.

“This time we’re better set up for victory,’’ she said. ‘’We’ve got new insights into the competition, and we have the target in sight.”

With home ice advantage and two world titles since PyeongChang, defending champion China is the target heading into Beijing.

China’s most accomplished athlete in wheelchair curling is Wang Haitao, part of the team that won gold in PyeongChang.

He has gone from strength to strength, having won two bronze, one silver, and two gold medals between the 2012 and 2021 World Wheelchair Curling Championships.

The 32-year-old is now captain of the Chinese team and is hoping to lead them to defend the gold they won four years ago.

Sweden could be the dark horse in the tournament. It has reached the podium at the last two worlds and is led by Kristina Ulander.

Having made her Paralympic debut at Sochi 2014, Ulander has been part of the nation’s medal winning team at the 2013, 2020, and 2021 world championships. Sweden even overcame Paralympic champions China for bronze in 2020, with Ulander as vice-skip.

Sweden finished third at the Paralympics in both 2006 and 2010. Ulander will be a key piece of their bid to return to the podium.

Joseph says she and her teammates realize there is a tradition to be upheld for Canada to be on the podium.

“The responsibility of wearing that maple leaf is massive, and I don’t want to let people down,’’ she said. ‘’I understand and appreciate that significance every day, and I want to be sure to fully take in every moment at the Paralympics, so I can be sure I don’t forget it.”

Thurston adds Canada won’t be satisfied without a medal.

‘’We have podium aspirations and I think they’re realistic, so we just need to play to our potential,” he told Global News.

Canada’s schedule is as follows (all listed times local to Beijing):

March 5: Canada vs. China 2:35 p.m. / Canada vs. Switzerland 7:35 p.m.

March 6: Canada vs. Latvia 2:35 p.m.

March 7: Canada vs. USA 9:35 a.m. / Canada vs. Sweden 7:35 p.m.

March 8: Canada vs. South Korea 9:35 a.m. / Canada vs. Slovakia 7:35 p.m.

March 9: Canada vs. Great Britain 2:35 p.m. / Canada vs. Estonia 7:35 p.m.

March 10: Canada vs. Norway 9:35 a.m. / Canada vs. RPC 2:35 p.m.

The top four teams from the round-robin will advance, with the semifinals played on March 11 at 2:35 p.m. with the No. 2 and No. 3 seed, and No. 1 versus No. 4 facing off. The bronze medal game will be played after the semifinals, at 7:35 p.m. The gold medal game will be on March 12 at 2:35 p.m.

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