RICHMOND, B.C. – With mixed doubles now set to make its Paralympic debut at the 2026 Winter Games in Milan, Collinda Joseph and Dennis Thiessen are hoping they can be trailblazers in the event at the 2023 World Wheelchair Mixed Doubles Curling Championship which started Saturday.
Joseph and Thiessen, two veteran players, are Canada’s entry in mixed doubles which held its first world championships last year. This week in Richmond, B.C., the team and mixed doubles events are being held simultaneously.
It’s a first experience for both in the event at this level. So far, so good. They are 4-0 entering Tuesday's action.
“It’s a pioneering opportunity,” said Joseph, a member of Canada’s bronze medal winning team at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games. “We’re only scratching the surface in terms of strategy for mixed doubles. It’s very different.”
In mixed doubles, each team shoots five stones instead of eight. The player delivering the team’s first stone of the end must also deliver the team’s last stone and the other player shoots the other three stones. The player delivering the first stone can change from end to end.
“Each shot matters,” said Thiessen, a three-time Paralympian. “You basically don’t have someone to pick you up if you screw up. I’m really excited about it. You can watch so many game tapes but there is so much to learn.”
Joseph and Thiessen first met in 2009 and were part of the last two world championship teams as well as Beijing 2022.
“Collinda is just wonderful to play with,” said Thiessen. “We’re very honest with each other and we are on the same page. It’s working out really well. I feel fortunate at this point in my career, I’m learning a new discipline. There are now bigger goals to attain.”
For these worlds on home ice, Joseph wants her and Thiessen to make a strong impression.
“My goal is to be on the 2026 Paralympic team in mixed doubles,” she said. “I’d love to specialize in this. It’s such a great game.”
Both players have lauded the work of mixed doubles head coach Dana Ferguson. She’s been coaching wheelchair curlers since 2020 and was named as the official coach last year after she filled the position at the inaugural worlds.
‘’I’m giving them a lot of freedom,” said Ferguson. ‘’They have the ability to make those precise shots. The sport is so new that it is the time to take a step up on other countries and explore new strategies and new ways to do things that have never been done before.”
At the inaugural mixed doubles worlds last year, Marie Wright of Moose Jaw, Sask. and James Anseeuw of Winnipeg represented Canada and placed 13th missing a berth in the playoff by one win. Sweden won the gold followed by Hungary and Norway.
“Collinda and Dennis need to focus on what they know,” said Wright. “Trust in each other and get it going early.”
This year’s tournament has a 19-team field. For more information, including schedules, visit: https://worldcurling.org/events/wwhcc2023?pageType=news