BEIJING – Mark Ideson, Team Canada’s skip for the 2021 World Wheelchair Curling Championships which start Saturday in Beijing, says his troops are confident heading into their first competition since the last worlds in early 2020.
‘’The team is optimistic and ready, yet our expectations are real,” said Ideson, from London, Ont., a two-time Paralympic Games medallist including gold in 2014. ‘’We know there are going to be moments of rustiness out there and that’s just the nature of the lack of practice time over the last 18 months.
“But we’re really looking forward to getting started and will learn as much as we can from each game to help prepare for the upcoming Paralympic Games.”
Ideson says the players got some valuable time together late summer after the COVID-19 pandemic kept the team apart for over a year.
‘’We feel pretty lucky to have been able to get together for a few training camps in August and September and had a couple of days of practice while staging for our trip to Beijing. Other than that, ice time has been very limited.”
Canada is fielding a highly experienced team for this event. It is the same lineup that claimed a silver medal at the 2020 worlds in Wetzikon, Switzerland.
Ideson throws lead rocks, while Jon Thurston of Dunsford, Ont., will throw fourth stones. Vice-skip Ina Forrest of Armstrong, B.C., (throwing third), Dennis Thiessen of Winnipeg (throwing second) and alternate Collinda Joseph of Stittsville, Ont. round out the on-ice lineup, with Mick Lizmore as coach, Wendy Morgan as team leader and Dr. Steven Macaluso as the team physician.
‘’We are excited to be back on the ice and representing Canada and hope to have a good showing and bring home a medal,” said Thurston. “We’re looking forward to competing against other international teams, which is tough to replicate in training, and also getting familiarized with Beijing for the upcoming Paralympics.’’
Canada will play an 11-game round-robin, with the top six teams from the 12-team field making the playoffs. The first and second-place teams will go straight to the semifinals, while No. 6 plays No. 3, and No. 5 plays No. 4 in the qualification round.
The qualification round and semifinals are on October 29, with the bronze and gold-medal games a day later.
The world championships was originally scheduled for March of this year, but was rescheduled.
Canada will head to Beijing ranked fourth in the World Wheelchair Curling Rankings, behind China, Norway and Russia.
Ideson, Forrest and Thiessen were all members of the Canadian team that won bronze at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.
Canada has won the world championship on three previous occasions, tied with Norway and behind only Russia with four.
For more information about the 2021 World Wheelchair Curling Championships, including schedules and team lineups, visit Worldcurling.org