Canada takes home silver medal at 2020 world wheelchair curling championship
A World Wheelchair Championship podium drought that had been ongoing since 2013 finally came to an end on Saturday as Canada took home the 2020 World Wheelchair Curling Championship silver medal.
Despite an exemplary effort in the final in Wetzikon, Switzerland, the team, comprising skip Mark Ideson of London, Ont. (throwing lead stones), Jon Thurston of Dunsford, Ont. (throwing fourth stones), Ina Forrest of Armstrong, B.C., Dennis Thiessen of Sanford, Man., alternate Collinda Joseph of Stittsville, Ont., coach Wayne Kiel of Balgonie, Sask., and assistant coach Mick Lizmore of Edmonton, bowed 5-4 to Russia’s Konstantin Kurokhtin in the battle for gold.
The 2020 silver medal marks the first time Canada has been on the podium since 2013 in Sochi, Russia, where Canada won gold. Current team members Forrest, Ideson and Thiessen were all members of the 2013 gold medal rink for skip Jim Armstrong, as well as being members of the Canadian team that won bronze at the 2018 Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang.
Canada opened the scoring early in the gold-medal gamem using last-rock advantage in the first end to score two points. The early lead would prove critical as the two teams would then exchange single scores with hammer until the seventh end, in which Russia would steal a single point, tying the game at 4-4.
In the eighth end and without hammer, Russia would make a crucial freeze to a Canadian stone in the back of the four-foot. Canada then attempted an angle freeze of its own on the Russian stone in hopes of setting up a final shot for the win.
Russia countered with a centre guard but left Canada the opportunity to play a board weight angle raise to remove the Russian shot stone and win the match. Thurston would wreck on the front guard, giving Russia the steal of one and the 5-4 victory.
Despite losing, Ideson still believes Team Canada accomplished its goals at the event.
“Of course, we’re happy with the silver medal,” he said. “We set out at the beginning of the week to make the playoffs and we hoped to get on the podium and we did that.”
Ideson knew it would take an excellent effort and a little luck to defeat a very skilled Team Russia in the final.
“Russia played an excellent game,” he said. “We just stayed in the game and everyone was playing well, but to lose, that’s curling. It was a game of inches and we lost by inches.”
The podium finish remains an overall success for the Canadians. Team Canada finished with a 5-6 record at last year’s World Championship in Stirling, Scotland — part of a four-way tie for seventh place. But tiebreaking formulas dropped Canada to 10th place and relegated to the B Pool for the 2019-20 season.
In December, Ideson skipped Canada to a gold medal at the world B Pool qualifying event in Finland, which clinched a berth into the 2020 World Championship in Switzerland.
“We feel great. Last year things didn’t go our way after we ended up in the B-Division but we worked hard to get back to win a medal,” said Ideson.
The silver-medal result also secured valuable qualifying points for Canada in a bid to qualify for the 2022 Winter Paralympics in Beijing. The combined results of the 2019, 2020 and 2021 world championships will determine the majority of the field for the 2022 Winter Paralympics.
For more information about the 2020 World Wheelchair Curling Championship, including results and team lineups, go to worldcurling.org/events/wwhcc2020/.