Paralympic Winter Games Wheelchair Curling Preview
Play begins in the Paralympic Winter Games wheelchair curling competition on Saturday 8 March, at the Ice Cube Curling Centre (pictured) in Sochi, Russia.
Ten mixed national teams will compete in the event, with the round-robin running from this Saturday until Thursday 13 March. Thereafter, tie-breakers will be played on Friday 14, if required, followed by the semi-finals and medal games on Saturday 15 March.
The Ice Cube was the venue for last year’s World Wheelchair Curling Championship, and many of the 2014 Paralympic athletes competed then.
Great Britain is represented by Aileen Neilson (left) who is the only female skip in the field. Along with the rest of her team from Scotland, Gregor Ewan, Bob McPherson, Jim Gault and Angie Malone, Great Britain will be looking to go one better than their Torino 2006 Paralympic Winter Games silver medal. In the 2010 Paralympics they finished in sixth position.
Reigning world champions Canada will be led by skip Jim Armstrong. Along with teammates Ina Forrest and Sonja Gaudet, Armstrong won gold at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. Gaudet was also a member of the Canadian team that won gold at the 2006 games in Turin. In addition to last year’s gold medals, Jim Armstrong led Canada to their two other World Wheelchair Curling Championship titles, in 2011 and 2009.
Sweden finished with the silver medals in last year’s World Championship after losing to Canada. Two-time Paralympic Games bronze medallist (2010 and 2006), Jalle Jungell, returns to skip Sweden. Jungell also picked up a World Championship silver medal in 2009.
Last year’s bronze medallists, China, are making their debut at these Paralympic Winter Games. They will be skipped Haitao Wang who has two World Championship bronze medals, one from 2012 and another from last year.
2012 world champions, Russia, are also competing at their first ever Paralympic Winter Games wheelchair curling competition. Skip Andrey Smirnov leads the exact same team that participated in the 2012 and 2013 World Championships. They will be hoping the home crowd can inspire them to victory in Sochi.
Korea, will be looking to finish amongst the Paralympic medals again but this time with a new line-up, with 2010 Paralympic silver medallist Jin-Myung Kim now skipping the team. Korea have played in eight World Wheelchair Curling Championships, coming runners up twice as they collected silver medals in both 2012 and 2008.
Slovakia made their World Wheelchair Curling Championship debut two years ago and skip Radoslav Duris returns with the same team that performed well in both the 2012 and 2013 championships.
Norway return with 2007 and 2008 World Champion skip Rune Lorentsen. Norway finished ninth place in the 2010 Paralympics, and fourth in 2006.
Finland, skipped by Markku Karjalainen, qualified for their first World Wheelchair Curling Championship last year, where they finished in eighth position. This is another team making their Paralympic debut.
Team USA will again be represented by skip Patrick McDonald and the same team who earned a fourth place finish in the World Wheelchair Curling Championships in 2013.
Skip Patrick McDonald was alternate at the Vancouver Paralympics in 2010 when the USA finished fourth, while in the Torino 2006 Paralympics USA finished in seventh place. Their best ever placing was a bronze medal at the World Wheelchair Curling Championship in 2008.
Results, statistics, news and photos from the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games curling competition can be seen here on the World Curling Federation’s official event website: http://www.sochi2014.curlingevents.com
The Royal Caledonian Curling Club website will be posting Great Britain’s results and updates after each session.
World Curling Federation Facebook: Go hit ‘like’ to keep updated: https://www.facebook.com/WorldCurlingFederation
Follow the Games on Twitter at @worldcurling and @WCFmedia and use the hashtags #Sochi2014; #Paralympics and #curling
Photo top: ©WCF/Richard Gray 2014
Photo Neilson: BPA