Canada Wheelchair Curling opens Paralympics with two-win day
In their first competitive action since October, Canada’s Wheelchair Curling team showed no signs of rust. In fact, they looked downright solid.
In the first draw of the 2022 Winter Paralympic Games, the Canadians beat China 7-3, and followed it up with a 8-4 win over Switzerland in the evening match.
“Obviously, we’re pretty happy,” said Mark Ideson, skip of Team Canada. “Two wins against tough opponents, to open the competition, is a great start.”
It was the team’s first competitive games since they played the 2021 World Championship in the same venue – Beijing’s National Aquatics Centre – in October of last year.
“The one thing that is affected the most is your stamina,” said Ideson. “To perform on demand, for a long period of time, is tough. And when you don’t have the competitive reps, it’s tough to have that.”
The Canadians, however, settled into form quickly capitalizing on mistakes from their opponent. Two misses by China in the fourth end left Canadian fourth stone-thrower Jon Thurston with a difficult hit and stay for a big score. The Paralympic rookie made it perfectly, sneaking by a guard, removing the Chinese stone, and rolling to a stop in the back eight-foot, scoring three and putting Canada ahead 4-2.
The Canadians never looked back, and finished off the 2018 Paralympic gold medallists 7-3.
“We always have had really good games with China,” said Ina Forrest, Canada’s third. “Back in 2014, and in 2018, so we just expected it was going to be a tough game once again.”
“Every time we get on the ice with them, they bring their best,” said Ideson. “It was nice to get the ‘W’ this time, and hopefully build some momentum for the rest of the week.”
The second game of the day was against Switzerland, and Team Canada set the tone early. After blanking the first end, they scored three in the second end. They had a chance for another big end in the fourth, but the Swiss fourth stone-thrower Hans Burgener tucked a draw around a guard just enough that Thurston ticked on the attempt to chase it, leading to a Swiss steal.
Thurston, however, would redeem himself in the fifth end with two clutch draws of his own, leading to a score of three, and a comfortable 6-2 lead. Switzerland took two in the sixth, while Canada answered with a deuce of its own in the seventh, taking a four-rock lead into the eighth.
Switzerland would run out of rocks in the last end, making the final score 8-4.
“It was a good start to the marathon,”said Thurston. “But yeah, we’re happy. We did a lot of good things on the ice out there, and hopefully we can improve as the week goes on.”
Canada faces Latvia tomorrow at 1:35 a.m. EST.