Canada qualifies for Paralympic playoffs with comeback win
Canada’s wheelchair curlers will once again play for a Paralympic medal.
The team punched its ticket to the semifinals this morning with a dramatic come-from-behind win over Norway, finishing with a 7-3 record and a guaranteed spot in the top four.
“I’m feeling some relief,” said Canadian skip Mark Ideson. “To get through the round robin and to get our spot in the playoffs – it’s a relief.”
Trailing by three with three ends to play, Canada scored two, bringing the Norweigians within one. A great hit and roll by Canada’s Jon Thurston forced Norway to one in the seventh, meaning Canada would play the eighth down two, with the hammer.
“We had a really great end in the eighth,” said Ideson. “Luckily, it was enough to get the W.”
A perfect end by the Canadians and a costly miss from Norway left Canada sitting three with two rocks to come. Norwegian skip Jostein Stordahl attempted a freeze, but left enough room that a well placed Canadian takeout could remove it, and win the game.
And that’s exactly what happened. After the dust had settled, Canada scored three and completed the comeback win, 7-6.
“I just stuck to my process.I really wanted to confirm the weight and the path,” said Thurston, who throws fourth stones for Canada. “We talked it out so I was clear on what I was trying to do. I threw it nice and positive, and we got the result we wanted.”
“He threw it great,” said Ideson. “I thought we had the broom in the right place. It was a fairly precise shot, and he threw it perfectly.”
A Canadian loss would not have guaranteed elimination, but it would have made a mess of the leaderboard, as several teams are hovering around the four loss mark with two draws left to play. There were dozens of potential permutations, but the Canadian victory means that all those situations will be avoided.
“The leaderboard is really tight in the middle. With the wins and losses, and the draw to the button [Last Show Draw] record… if we’d had a loss there, who knows how it would have played out?” said Ideson. “I was really happy to get into the playoffs without having to go through that.”
Canada has now completed its ten-game round robin, but due to the space in the draw left by the banned team from Russia, some teams still have two games to play. While China, Sweden, and Canada are confirmed playoff teams, the fourth and final playoff spot won’t be decided until late Thursday night (earlyThursday morning Eastern Time).
“I think we thought we should be a playoff team, so it’s great that we officially are,” said Ina Forrest, third for Team Canada. “I think we just go forward playing the same no matter who we play – treating every shot like it matters, and do your best on every single one. We don’t ever quit, so we’re always going to be there.”
But first, the team will take some time to decompress.
“We’re definitely going to prioritize rest and recovery,” said Ideson. “It’s a long week, with ten games in a row… a little rest wouldn’t hurt.”