Growing the program!

Canada was the only nation to win medals at both the 2023 World Wheelchair Curling Championship and World Wheelchair Mixed Doubles Curling Championship. Canada’s Senior A athletes; left photo, front row (from left): Marie Wright, Gilbert Dash, Ina Forrest, Jon Thurston and Mark Ideson; back row: National Program Head Coach Mick Lizmore. Right photo, front row (from left): Dennis Thiessen and Collinda Joseph; back row Wheelchair Mixed Doubles Coach Dana Ferguson. (Photos, World Curling Federation/Cheyenne Boone)

Curling Canada Expands Wheelchair Curling Program

Following Canada’s recent successes at the world championships, Curling Canada is pleased to announce an expansion to the National Wheelchair Curling Program, designed to continue supporting world-leading performances, as well as develop the next generation of wheelchair curling athletes.

“Canada’s Wheelchair Curling Program is comprised of a group of highly experienced and skilled athletes as well as an outstanding leadership team,” said David Murdoch, Curling Canada’s Director of High Performance Director. “As the program moves deeper into the quadrennial in preparation for the 2026 Paralympic Winter Games, it’s important to continue our tradition of excellence on the world stage while planning for the future. We are grateful to our funding partners Sport Canada, Own the Podium, and the Canadian Paralympic Committee for their support and collaboration as we expand our program and reach more athletes.”

Last season, Canada was the only country to capture two medals at the world championships, winning a silver medal at the 2023 World Wheelchair Curling Championship and a bronze medal at the 2023 World Wheelchair Mixed Doubles Curling Championship. The seven athletes who represented Canada at the 2023 World Championships will be supported as Senior A Athletes in the National Program.

Senior A Athletes:

  • Collinda Joseph (Ottawa – home coach: Lisa Weagle)
  • Dennis Thiessen (Winnipeg – home coach: Ron Westcott)
  • Gilbert Dash (Wolseley, Sask. – home coach: Lorraine Arguin)
  • Ina Forrest (Vernon, B.C. – home coach: Sharon Morrison)
  • Jon Thurston (Dunsford, Ont. – home coach: Carl Rennick)
  • Marie Wright (Moose Jaw, Sask. – home coach: Lorraine Arguin)
  • Mark Ideson (Ilderton, Ont. – home coach: Mick Lizmore)
The National Wheelchair Curling Program prioritized connecting with the community and creating new initiatives to identify and recruit talent into its program. (Photo, Curling Canada/Lisa Weagle)

New for the 2023-24 season is the inclusion of four tiers of programming, designed to support the next generation of athletes who have potential to make a significant contribution to Canada on the international stage in future quadrennials. The redesigned program includes three additional categories called Senior B, NextGen, and NextGen Prospects. 

“Over the last few years, our efforts to support developing-level athletes and programming have been limited, due in part to restrictions related to the pandemic and the overall lack of competitive opportunities,” said Kyle Paquette, Canada’s National Wheelchair Curling Program Director. “Last season, we prioritized connecting with the community and creating initiatives to identify and recruit talent into the program. As a result, we are thrilled to welcome several new promising athletes into the program and are grateful to be part of their developmental journey.”

Senior B Athletes:

  • Cecilia Carroll (Torbay, N.L. – home coach: Leslie Anne Walsh)
  • Doug Dean (Thunder Bay, Ont. – home coach: Doug Gelmich)
  • Sarah Benevides (Chance Harbour, N.B. – home coach: Wayne Cooper)

NextGen Athletes:

  • Chrissy Molnar (Trent Lakes, Ont. – home coach: Carl Rennick)
  • Jillian Hopkins (Toronto – home coach: Wendy Morgan)
  • Karl Allen (Keene, Ont. – home coach: Carl Rennick)
  • Reid Mulligan (Ottawa)

NextGen Prospects:

  • Emma Nagle (Leduc, Alta. – home coach: Richard Jenkyns)
  • Jocelyn Ouellette (Trois-Rivières, Que. – home coach: Claude Brunet)
  • Julianna Rothfeld (Ottawa)
  • Kris Vriend (Edmonton – home coach: Richard Jenkyns)
  • LeeAnn Cayer (Port Robinson, Ont.)
  • Lesleigh Elgie (Brantford, Ont.)
  • Shannon Wilcox (London, Ont.)

National Program Athletes are supported by coaching staff under the leadership of Kyle Paquette, National Program Director. Mick Lizmore is continuing as Head Coach, and in addition to continuing as Mixed Doubles Coach, Dana Ferguson is taking on the role of NextGen Coach. The full coaching and integrated support team for 2023-24 is:

  • Kyle Paquette (National Program Director, Gatineau, Que.)
  • Mick Lizmore (National Program Head Coach, London, Ont.)
  • Dana Ferguson (Mixed Doubles/NextGen Coach, Edmonton)
  • Kyle Turcotte (Strength and Conditioning Coach, Winnipeg)
  • Dr. Steven Macaluso (Physiatrist, London, Ont.)
  • Sari Shatil (Physiotherapist, London, Ont.)
  • Alysia Patience (Physiotherapist, London, Ont.)
  • Lisa Weagle (Coach and Communications/Media Manager, Ottawa)
  • Jorie Janzen (Dietician, Winnipeg)
  • Erin Brennan (Mental Performance Consultant, Edmonton) 
  • Wendy Morgan (Program Advisor and Coach, Oakville, Ont.)

The National Program wants to thank everyone who submitted an application to join the program for the 2023-24 season, as well as all of the many home coaches and community leaders who continue to play in integral role in helping to grow the sport and shape the landscape of wheelchair curling in Canada. 

Curling Canada