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Canada loses heartbreaker in semifinal, will play for bronze

Nobody likes to lose, especially elite athletes playing at world class competitions with medals on the line. 

You could forgive Canadian skip Mark Ideson if he was angry, bitter, heartbroken or a bit crusty following a last rock loss to China in the semi-final of the Paralympic medal round in wheelchair curling.  But, following the game that’s not the emotion he showed.

“You know what? I am proud,” he said minutes after Chinese skip Haitao Wang made a remarkable tap to the button with the last shot of the game. “I’m really proud of the way that the team played… We put ourselves in a good position to medal and we played well.”

Dennis Thiessen, Mark Ideson, and Marie Wright hold their heads high following semifinal loss to China  -Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 © WCF / Céline Stucki

Canada sat two in the four-foot before Wang delivered his last rock. The margin for error was slim, but his stone tapped the other just right to score a point for the win. 

“He made a beauty in the last end to win,” said Ideson. “That’s world class. That’s the Paralympics. He made a beauty, so good on him. He deserved it.”

Another big moment came an end earlier, when Ideson couldn’t get his wheelchair out of the way as rocks were flying out of the house. A Chinese rock spinning out of the house hit his chair, and Wang immediately shoved it back into play, closer to the middle of the house than where the infraction occurred. 

A lengthy discussion ensued, involving two officials, video replay, and finally a ruling that the rock would remain in the house, but hang off the backline. Canadian fans weren’t happy about the situation, as the video replays showed that the rock was certainly headed out of the house.  

Ideson, with teammates Ina Forrest, Dennis Thiessen, and Maria Wright, did their best to shake off the questionable display of etiquette, and were able to recover forcing a blank end after all the drama was settled.

“I don’t think it affected the outcome of the game.” said Ideson. “It may have affected the shot right after that, but it didn’t affect the outcome of the game.”

With the win, China moves on the the gold medal game vs. Norway, with at least a silver guaranteed. Canada, meanwhile will have to fight for some hardware in the bronze medal game vs. South Korea. 

Ideson didn’t seem to concerned with shaking off the loss. 

“We’ll start by going to see our families. That’s the important part,” he said of his post-game plans.  “We’ll get some good rest, and some good nutrition, and debrief the game, we’ll give each other some hugs, and away we go.”

The bronze medal game will take place Saturday at 9:35 am Local (8:35 pm EST – Friday) and be available for streaming on www.cbcsports.ca.