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March 10, 2014

Wheelchair curling enters third day at 2014 Winter Paralympics

Wheelchair curling enters third day at 2014 Winter Paralympics

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Monday, March 10, 2014

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Wheelchair curling continued today at the Ice Cube Curling Center at the 2014 Winter Paralympics on difficult playing conditions as a result of the warm temperature outside. In the morning session, the South Korea lost to Russia in the eighth end by a score of 5–7, the United States lost to Canada 2–7 in seven ends, Norway edged out Finland 6–8 in extra ends, and China defeated Sweden 8–4 in seven ends.

At the conclusion of the morning session, round robin standing had Canada in first with 4 wins; Slovakia in second with 3 wins; Russia in third with 3 wins and 1 loss; Great Britain in fourth with 2 wins and 1 loss; China and Norway in fifth with 2 wins and 2 losses; South Korea, Sweden, and the United States in seventh place with 1 win and 3 losses; and Finland last with 4 losses.

Finland and Norway were evenly matched, going point for point in the first pair of ends, trading 2 points each in the next pair of ends, then Norway scored 2 points and 1 point in the next ends with Finland answering back. Tied after eight ends, they went to extra ends which Norway won with 2 points.

Outpacing other curlers on the ice, United States looked like they might be able to come back to tie things after their second end against Canada, and then only being down one after the fourth end, but Canada went on to score points in the next three ends.

While Sweden won three of the seven ends they played against China, they were unable to beat the Chinese team who scored 2 points in two ends and 3 points in another end. In the fourth end, the 3 points came after a precision takeout by the Chinese skip Wang Haitao that cleared two Swedish stones off the sheet.

With the crowd behind them the entire match, Russia came from behind after the first end and third end to tie things up in the fifth end and take the lead. They allowed the South Koreans to score two points in the seventh end to force an eighth end. Russian skip Andrei Smirnov cleared a South Korean stone sitting in front of three Russian stones off the sheet that gave the Russians a two point lead.

The United States has not medaled at the past two Paraympic Games, with their best finish a fourth at the 2010 Games. Of the United States’s curling team, two are returning wheelchair curling Paralympic veterans. James Joseph, the second, competed at the 2006 Winter Paralympics and 2010 Winter Paralympics. The skip and Madison, Wisconsin native, Patrick McDonald, competed at the 2010 Games. Penny Greely, the lead, competed in sitting volleyball at the 2004 Summer Paralympics where she won a bronze medal. David Palmer, the third, is competing at his first games after having a fourth place finish at the 2013 World Championships in Russia and a fifth place finish at the 2012 World Championships in South Korea. Alternate and Cape Cod native Meghan Lino is also at her first Paralympic Games after taking up the sport in 2009.

Sweden’s team has three team members who competed at the 2010 Games in Vancouver, Canada: Jalle Jungnell, Glenn Ikonen, and Patrik Kallin. 60 year old Jungnell has the team’s most Paralympic experience, having competed at the 1988, 1992, and 1996 Summer Paralympics in wheelchair basketball, as well as competing at the 2006 and 2010 Winter Paralympics in wheelchair curling. Finnish born Ikonen had been suspended for six months following the Vancouver Games following a positive doping test. He claimed metroprolol was a drug he had been using for 4 or 5 years, and was unhappy that his doctor prescribed the blood pressure reducing drug because he would not have intentionally taken a banned substance.

The 2014 Games are the first Paralympics for Russia’s wheelchair curling team. Alternate Oksana Slesarenko from Yekaterinburg and skip Andrei Smirnov also from Yekaterinburg have the most experience on the team, both having taken up the sport in 2003, and competing at the 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, and 2013 World Championships.

Team Canada includes all five members of their 2013 World Championship winning team, including 63-year-old skip Jim Armstrong, 51-year-old Dennis John Thiessen, 52-year-old Ina Forrest, 47-year-old Sonja Gaudet, and 37-year-old Mark Ideson. Gaudet is the only wheelchair curling Paralympian with two gold medals, having won them in 2006 and 2010. Teammates Armstrong and Thiessen were part of the 2010 gold medal winning team. Gaudet also has gold medals from the 2009, 2011, and 2013 World Championships. While Armstrong was inducted into the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame in 1990 for his accomplishments in able bodied curling, Gaudet was the first wheelchair-only curler to be inducted when she was part of the 2013 class.

South Korea has two returning 2010 Games silver medalists, Kang Mi-Suk and Kim Myung-Jin. Both originally played other sports before taking up curling. Kang played table tennis and Kim played wheelchair basketball.

On Saturday, Russia beat China 5–4, South Korea lost to Norway 0–10, Canada beat Great Britain 6–3, and Slovakia defeated the United States 6–4 in the morning session. Sweden beat Finland 7–6, Canada beat Russia 5–4, the United States lost to South Korea 5–9, and Norway lost to China 3–7. In the morning session yesterday, the United States defeated Norway 8–5, Sweden lost to Great Britain by a score of 4–6, China lost to Slovakia 3–8, and Finland lost to Russia 4–7. In the afternoon session yesterday, Canada defeated Sweden 7–4, Finland lost to Slovakia 6–9, and Great Britain beat South Korea by a score of 8–4.

Unlike able-bodied curling, players release the stone from a stationary position and there is no sweeping. Another curler often sits behind the stone thrower to hold their chair in place while they execute their throw. Unlike a number of other Paralympic sports, there is only one classification in wheelchair curling and a variety of lower body disabilities compete in the sport. South Koreans Kim Myung-Jin and Kim Jong-Pan, Swede Kristina Ulander, Team USA’s Meghan Lino, Patrick McDonald, and David Palmer, and Russians Alexander Shevchenko, Svetlana Pakhomova, Oksana Slesarenko, Andrei Smirnov, and Marat Romanov have spinal cord injuries. Canadian Jim Armstrong has injured knees. Canadian Ina Forrest lost her leg in a farming accident. Team USA’s James Joseph has a limb deficiency.

Sochi Wheelchair Curling 3.jpg Team USA confers on a shot
Image: Laura Hale.

Sochi Wheelchair Curling 4.jpg The Russian team confers on a shot
Image: Laura Hale.

Sochi Wheelchair Curling 5.jpg Finland and Norway congratulate eachother following the conclusion of their game
Image: Laura Hale.
Sochi Wheelchair Curling 1.jpg Team USA fans watching the matches
Image: Laura Hale.
Sochi Wheelchair Curling 2.jpg Bagpipers playing before the start of wheelchair curling
Image: Laura Hale.



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March 6, 2014

Jon Lujan named United States flag bearer for 2014 Winter Paralympics opening ceremony

Jon Lujan named United States flag bearer for 2014 Winter Paralympics opening ceremony

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

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An image of Jon Lujan with Millie Knight, the flag bearer from Great Britain, that was taken from his Twitter feed earlier today.
Image: Jon Lujan.

File photo of Sonja Gaudet
Image: popejon2.

Sochi, Russia — Yesterday, Jon Lujan of Littleton, Colorado was named the United States flag bearer for the 2014 Winter Paralympics opening ceremony scheduled to take place tomorrow in Sochi, Russia. Lujan is a United States Marine Corps veteran, and will be competing in the alpine events at this year’s Games.

In Sochi, Lujan is rooming with Heath Calhoun, the 2010 Winter Paralympics United States flag bearer. Like Lujan, Calhoun is also a veteran, having served in the army.

In 2003, while serving in Iraq, Lujan ruptured two discs in his back. Following a back surgery in 2005 that attempted to fix the discs, he had complications that resulted in permanent nerve damage and paralysis in his lower legs.

Also yesterday, wheelchair curler Sonja Gaudet was named the flag bearer of the Canadian delegation.

Earlier today, skier Millie Knight was selected as the flagbearer for Great Britain. At 15 years of age, Knight is the youngest member of Team GB.



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April 8, 2013

Wikinews interviews USA wheelchair curler David Palmer

Wikinews interviews USA wheelchair curler David Palmer

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Monday, April 8, 2013

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David Palmer of Team USA
Image: David Palmer.

David Palmer of Team USA
Image: David Palmer.

Wikinews interviewed David Palmer, a member of the USA 2013 World Wheelchair Curling Championship team, about the 2014 Winter Paralympics being held in Sochi, Russia.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png The US qualified a team for the Sochi Games. How likely are you to be on the final team? As these games would be your first, how excited are you about the possibility of representing your country?

David Palmer: It is very likely that I and the team that went to Sochi in 2013 will be the team in the Paralympics 2014 as long as no sickness or injury and we all continue to perform at our level.
DP: I am very happy and honored to represent my country. After competing in the last two world championships which were very exciting, I can not wait for the chance to compete at the Paralympics.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Were you happy with your team’s fourth place finish at this year’s World Championships?

DP: I was happy with the way the team played, we all thought we should have medaled. We finished third in the round-robin with a record of 7–2 and the closest behind us was 4–5. We all made a few mistakes and did not finish as well as we would have liked, but we are looking forward to next year.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What steps is the team taking to try to get a gold medal in Sochi?

DP: We will be training harder and hopefully playing more bonspiels (tournaments). Because this is a Paralympic year we hope to get more funding, to travel for more high level bonspiels. Because the team is scattered across the country it is hard to get together for practice and bonspiels so we have to do the majority of it on our own. We will be reviewing the tapes from the worlds [World Wheelchair Curling Championship] and video conferencing with team and discussing strategy and performance.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Why do you participate in wheelchair curling? Why not wheelchair fencing, tennis, basketball or athletics?

DP: I do participate in other sports at a recreational level. I have done waterskiing, monosking, wheelchair tennis and basketball, handcycling. I played and competed in sled hockey for about 12 years, but I found as I got older and the competition got younger it was pretty physical on the body. I went and tried curling at Cape Cod Curling Club in 2009, I found that I not only liked it but I was also pretty good at it. A member there (Tony Colacchio) took me under his wing and showed me the possibilities there were to compete at the National level. I thought he was crazy at first, but four years later here I am curling on team USA and traveling the world.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What is the nature of your disability? Do you use a wheelchair for most daily activities?

DP: I am a T4 Paraplegic, due to a motorcycle accident in 1993. Yes I am dependent on my wheelchair for mobility.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How does being a parent impact your ability to compete at elite levels?

DP: I am married and have three children. Having a family does make it a harder to compete at elite levels, not only being away traveling, when I am home I am on the ice training a lot. But thanks to the support from my family I have been able to do so. Hopefully it has a positive impact on my children, showing them you can achieve anything you put your mind to.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Does participating in wheelchair curling cost a lot money?

DP: Well that depends! At a recreational level, if you have a wheelchair already all you need is a delivery stick which is about $60.00 and to join a club which has dues usually 300.00 to 500.00 per year. To compete at the highest level, there is travel and lodging involved which can get quite expensive.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How do you afford to compete at the highest level? Do you have any sponsorship deals?

DP: Getting started was tough, I got help through the members of cape cod curling club and a grant from Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) and some out of my pocket. But once I made the National team there is funding to help with expenses. I have no sponsorship deals at the moment, but I am open to negotiation!

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Do you think USA Paralympic competitors get enough financial support to enable the country to compete at the highest level? Is funding equitable in the United States across sports and competitor visibility?

DP: No, there is funding, but not nearly enough for an athlete to compete at the highest level.
DP: Not from what I hear. I believe the higher viewed sports get a lot more funding. I have been told curling is at bottom for funding.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What are your thoughts on the classification system and processes for your sport? Do you know of anyone who has been impacted as a result of it?

DP: I am not really clear on how the classification system works. I feel that they should make it as equal as possible for everyone who competes in wheelchair curling. Everyone one has different disabilities and different situations, but as long as they are delivering the stone from a stationary wheelchair with a delivery stick from the same position it should be equal.
DP: I know of a young man from state of Washington who uses a wheelchair most of the time but is able to walk and has mobility, that he probably would not qualify for the national team.. Yet I know of a man in Canada that uses a wheelchair only for curling and competes on the National team.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Have you gotten much media coverage? What do you think of media coverage for curling in general and wheelchair curling specifically?

DP: I Have had some media coverage from my locals newspaper, when I was competing in the worlds and when I made the National team.
DP: I do not think there is enough coverage for curling on television although there was quite a bit of coverage at the last Olympics, but not the Paralympics. I think if there were more coverage people would understand the sport better and perhaps grow to love it like I have. There is a lot more to it with strategy and skill than people think.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What has been your favorite moment as a wheelchair curling competitor?

DP: I think this past worlds in Sochi was my favorite time. Curling at the Olympic Venue (which was state of the art Facility), being the first one ever to curl there was special. Being there when they played our national anthem and I was representing my country was priceless! All of the volunteers there were young college students, they were so friendly and helpful and were asking us for our autographs. I felt like a celebrity. I cannot imagine what the Paralympics are going to feel like! I just hope I am there!



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March 9, 2009

Canadian teams vie for spot at the World Curling Championship

Canadian teams vie for spot at the World Curling Championship

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Monday, March 9, 2009

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Jennifer Jones winner of the 2009 Scotties Tournament of Hearts
Image: Lynn Guy.

The 2009 Tim Hortons Brier and the 2009 Scotties Tournament of Hearts are hosting premier Canadian curlers in a competition for the right to advance to the World Curling Championship. The champions will also have a chance to compete at the 2009 Canadian Olympic Curling Trials for the privilege of representing Canada at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Jennifer Jones’ Team Canada from Winnipeg, Manitoba became repeat Canadian champions during the 2009 Scotties Tournament of Hearts held from February 21 to March 1 at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria British Columbia. They will now proceed to the 2009 World Womens Curling Championship at Gangneung, South Korea from March 21 to 29, 2009. They are also guaranteed a spot in the 2009 Canadian Olympic Curling Trials.

The men’s Canadian curling for the Ford World Curling Championship, will be determined between March 7 to 15 at the Calgary Pengrowth Saddledome in Alberta during the 2009 Tim Hortons Brier. Currently Kevin Martin’s Albertan team is in the lead. The winning team will then advance to the Ford World Championship held April 4-12 at the Coliseum in Moncton, New Brunswick.

The 2009 Canadian Olympic Curling Trials will be December 6-13, 2009 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta. Teams are selected from the winners of major curling championship in Canada to create a pool for the 2009 Canadian Olympic Curling Trials, including the 2006–07 to 2008–09 winners of the Strauss Canada Cup tournament, the Players’ Championships, and the Canadian Men’s/Women’s Curling Championships. The 2010 XXI Winter Olympics will be held February 12-28, 2010, in Vancouver, British Columbia. The 2010 Canadian Women’s Curling Championship will be held in the Essar Centre, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and the 2010 Men’s Brier will be held in the Metro Centre, downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Curling is a popular winter sport in Canada, with over one million Canadians involved in the sport across Canada. Approximately 1 in 3 adult Canadians, around eleven million, watch the sport either live or via television.

Curling stones
Image: Daniel Brack.



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March 7, 2007

Canadian PM visits Hamilton, admits he\’s an avid curling fan

Canadian PM visits Hamilton, admits he’s an avid curling fan

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Wednesday, March 7, 2007

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Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a visit to Hamilton yesterday to watch the 2007 annual Tim Hortons Brier at the Copps Coliseum.

Harper, who is currently writing a book about the history of Hockey, admitted he’s a curling fan. He started to be a fan of curling in Winnipeg Manitoba 10 years ago and said his father used to play it.

“I’ve never curled but my father did when I was very young,” he said. “I’ve followed the Brier for years. About the last decade or so I’ve made an effort to get to the Brier when I could. It is such a great Canadian tradition.”

He cheered on for Alberta’s Kevin Martin. Martin won 9–8 over players from Nova Scotia. Harper met with Kevin Martin after the event. Martin handed the PM his jersey from Monday’s game.

“I’ve obviously got a soft spot for Kevin Martin and Alberta because he’s had such a great career,” said Harper. “But what’s so great about the Brier is whoever wins is not like your normal pro athlete. They’re usually great community people and Canadians. It’s always easy to identify with whoever goes forward.”

Robin MacPherson of Hamilton sat in front of him. She wore a large crown and was draped in gold.

She got to meet the PM and was quoted saying: “Not a lot of people get to meet a prime minister.”


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January 19, 2007

Canada beats USA 5-0 in ice hockey at World University Games

Canada beats USA 5-0 in ice hockey at World University Games

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Friday, January 19, 2007

In his first play of Winter Universiade 2007 Hockey team of Canada defeated USA 5-0, while in another game the home team of Italy lost to Kazakhstan 3-1.

Italy won its first gold medal in Giant Slalom when Aronne Pieruz was first in both runs of Skiing competition. Czech Filip Trejbal was second and American Adam Cole was third.

Medal table is led by Poland who won two gold medals: in Speedskating Katarzyna Wojcicka was first in 1,500 metres and in Cross-Country Katarzyna Wojcicka won 5 km Classical Individual. Other gold medalists in the day were Dutch Mark Ooyevaar in Speedskating 5,000 m, the Russian Alexander Lasutkin in 10km Classical Individual Cross-Country, the Austrian Daniela Iraschko in K95 Ski jumping and Japanese Daisuke Takashasho in Single Figure Skating.

In Men’s Curling Switzerland beat USA 8-5, and South Korea won against Italy 7-5. Following results are to be highlighted in Women’s Curling: Sweden- USA 8-7, Switzerland-Great Britain 9-7 and Japan-Italy 7-2.

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