|Thunder Bay and the Fort William Curling Club will play host to the Canadian Wheelchair Curling championships, March 18 to 25. Front row from the left, curlers Linda Kontunen, Al Buchan and Gino Sonego are joined by Katimavik volunteers from the left, Leanne Rondeau, Teri Rajandron, Kayleen Demour, Phil Langlois, Mallory Newman, Fanny D’Aragon, Fraser Kayne, Brendan McBride, Francis Bolduc, Kate Spiers and Gabriel Toupim on the ice. |
When it comes to winter sports, Thunder Bay certainly doesn’t hibernate. This March, Thunder Bay will play host to the 2012 Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championships. The tournament will be taking place March 18 to 25 at the Fort William Curling Club.
Ten provincial champion teams will be participating in the tournament, including a team from Northern Ontario. The team representing Northern Ontario will be declared during the Northern Ontario Curling Association Wheelchair Curling Provincials which are being held in Sudbury from Jan. 27 to 29.
Dave Kawahara, chair of the host committee for the 2012 Wheelchair Curling Championships, said hosting the tournament in Thunder Bay will mean a lot for the city and for the sport.
“There will be a large economic impact to the city,” Kawahara said. “There will be over 150 curlers and their families coming to the city for nine days. The other important aspect is it expands the knowledge of inclusive participation, particularly when it comes to winter sports.”
Kawahara added that Thunder Bay was chosen to host the tournament because of the success the city has had hosting similar events.
“We wouldn’t have been given the go ahead unless we had an accessible facility,” Kawahara said.
The Fort William Curling Club installed an elevator in 2006, making the facility accessible to all curlers.
“Also, we had a lot of success running other national events in the past,” Kawahara added.
For Gino Sonego of Team Sonego, having the tournament held in Thunder Bay will be very good for the sport.
“I think it will provide good exposure,” he said. “It will show what wheelchair curling is all about, hopefully raise awareness about wheelchair curling, and maybe even get some new people involved in the sport.”
Sonego added that he has tried to get more people involved in the sport. According to Sonego, it is perfect for ex-curlers who may have mobility issues but still want to enjoy the sport.
“I think it gets you active, it gets you out of the house, and you get to meet new people,” Sonego said. “There is a big social aspect to the sport alongside the physical. And it makes the winter go by that much faster.”
Fans of curling are encouraged to come out March 18 to cheer on the home team. Sonego said it is exciting to have an opportunity to play on home ice, and he hopes it gives his team an edge.
“But you never know how the rocks are going to bounce,” he said.
Kawahara added that volunteers are a major aspect of a successful tournament and anyone interested in volunteering can sign up at the Fort William Curling Club or call 622-5377