A dozen teams chase their Paralympic dreams in PyeongChang - Part One

  • Canada skip Mark Ideson © WCF / Céline Stucki

In just under two months the wheelchair curling competition of the Paralympic Winter Games 2018, being held in Gangneung, Republic of Korea gets underway.

The Games will see an increase to 12 wheelchair curling teams for the first time, with the competition in the Gangneung Curling Centre running from Saturday 10 March until Saturday 17 March.

With the exception of hosts Korea, the participating Member Associations (MAs) earned their place at the Games through the sum of their qualification points gained at the World Wheelchair Curling Championships (WWhCCs) held in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

All competing MAs have previous experience at the Paralympic Games, with five of them already medalling at the event since its debut at the Games in 2006 in Turin, Italy.

Today we'll look at four of the teams competing at the Games.

Team Canada

The most successful Paralympic Curling nation is Canada. Their teams have won gold medals in every Paralympic Winter Games where curling has featured - Turin in 2006, Vancouver in 2010 and Sochi in 2014.

Canada go into the Games looking to claim their fourth gold medals. Three of the five players representing Canada in PyeongChang - skip Mark Ideson, third Ina Forrest, and second Dennis Thiessen - have previous experience of the Games, while lead Marie Wright and alternate James Anseeuw will make their Paralympic Games debut in Korea.

Team Norway

Norway, the reigning World Champions after claiming the gold medals at the 2017 WWhCC in the Paralympic Games venue-to-be, Gangneung Curling Centre, will enter the Games with the aim of keeping their impressive run going.

With two medals (gold in 2017 and silver in 2016) in the last three qualifying events the Norwegians are sending their world champion squad, one of the most experienced at the Games, to PyeongChang. Skip Rune Lorentsen will compete in his fourth Paralympic Winter Games, while third Jostein Stordahl will be competing in his third Games and lead Sissel Loechen will make her second Games appearance. Second Ole Fredrik Syversen and alternate Rikke Iversen will be making their Games debuts.

Team Korea

Korea - with automatic entry as host nation - have had some promising results on the world stage in previous years to build on in front of their home crowd. Korean wheelchair curling has three world championship medals (silver in 2008 and 2012 and bronze in 2016), and a silver from the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

Four of the five players winning bronze in 2016 will be on their team at the 2018 Games, namely skip Soonseok Seo, third Seungwon Jung, second Jaegoan Cha and lead Minja Bang. Alternate Dongha Lee is not new to world events either: he was part of the team that participated in the 2017 world championships where they finished in sixth place.

Team USA

The United States finished fifth in the qualification rankings and secured its berth at the Games by finishing 5th, 6th and 7th at the world championships in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Their Paralympic team is made up of two experienced Paralympians and three players who will make their Games debut in Korea. Lead Penny Greely and alternate Meghan Lino took part in the Games four years ago in Sochi. Being a multisport athlete, Greely has some Summer Paralympic experience as well: winning the bronze medal in sitting volleyball at the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens, Greece. Skip Kirk Black, third Steve Emt and second Justin Marshall will gain their first Paralympic experience in PyeongChang.
In the run-up to the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, Republic of Korea we celebrate the success of the curling qualifiers heading to the Games in (9-18) March.

In the coming weeks we will speak to the athletes that have been selected or qualified to represent their Member Associations in the Gangneung Curling Centre. Check back here, in the coming weeks, to find out more about the remaining teams that will compete in the wheelchair curling tournament.

To follow the build-up to the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, follow us on Twitter, Instagram (@worldcurling) and Facebook (/WorldCurlingFederation) and use the hashtags: #Roadto2018 #curling

All photos © WCF / Céline Stucki