Canadian wheelchair curlers win Paralympic bronze
For the fifth time in as many Paralympic Games, Canada has found the podium in wheelchair curling.
The Canadian team of Mark Ideson, Ina Forrest, Dennis Thiessen, Jon Thurston and Collinda Joseph rebounded from a semifinal defeat to China in the afternoon draw, and rallied to beat Slovakia in the bronze medal game later Friday.
“Everyone showed up to play today,” said Canadian skip Mark Ideson. “Jon made a couple of beauties to finish it off. We’re so happy to win the bronze.”
Canada controlled most of the game early, but Slovakia kept pressure on in the second half, trailing by one without hammer in the eighth end. After a perfectly set up end, Slovakia sat two buried with skips rocks left to play.
Canadian fourth Jon Thurston made a spectacular, soft-weight, double takeout, just seaking by the guard. The result left Canada sitting three, with Slovakia down to its last shot.
“I actually got to practice that spot just before the game,” said Thurston. “With similar weight too… I felt really comfortable throwing it. It was a big shot.”
“We had seen that spot before,” said Ideson. “It curls nice there. He threw it perfectly, absolutely knifed it.”
But it wasn’t over yet.
Slovakian fourth Peter Zatko drew to the side of the four-foot, but failed to hide behind the guard. Thurston made no mistake on the open takeout and Canada completed its podium quest with an 8-3 victory.
“Slovakia threw absolutely everything at this team,” said head coach Mick Lizmore. “ The story of this team is that we all pick up after one another. Everybody takes turns making a big shot – and today was Jon’s day.”
“The scoreboard doesn’t indicate how close the game was,” said Ideson. “They gave us everything we could handle today.”
Earlier in the day, Canada met up with China; a repeat of the 2018 Paralympic Semifinal. While the 2018 game was decided on the last rock, this year’s edition was a bit more lopsided.
“They made a lot of shots,” said Ideson. “We had a couple of key misses, and they put a couple of threes on the board. That’s hard to come back from.”
China posted scores of three in the third end, and again in the fifth. The nail in the coffin, however, was a steal of two in the sixth, which all but dashed the Canadians’s gold medal hopes.
Although Canada added two more points in the seventh, they ran out of rocks in the eighth for a final score of 9-5.
“It stings when you lose the semi,” said Ideson. “And you don’t get a chance to play for gold, but we’re really happy to play and win the bronze.”
“It’s incredible to see the team’s hard work payoff,” said Lizmore. “Between training remotely through covid, staying game ready, working hard together in the lead up to the games, I’m so proud of this team and this medal, and it was hard earned.”