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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Forrest, Gaudet return for national duty

posted Jan 18, 2015 at 1:00 AM

Canada will be putting a new-look team on the ice when the World Wheelchair Curling Championships get underway Feb. 7 in Lohja, Finland.

Mark Ideson of London, Ont. will take over as skip in Finland, with longtime national team skip Jim Armstrong of Cambridge, Ont. missing the event due to health issues.

Ideson, who will throw lead rocks, was the alternate for the Canadian teams that won gold at the most recent World Wheelchair Championships, in 2013, in Sochi, Russia, and also captured gold in the same position at the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi.

He will be joined in Finland by veteran national-team members vice-skip Ina Forrest of Armstrong, (who will throw last rocks), third Dennis Thiessen of Sanford, Man. and second Sonja Gaudet of Vernon – all of whom were members of the Paralympic gold-medal team (Gaudet’s third Paralympic gold and Forrest’s second).

Also travelling to Finland will be Marie Wright of Moose Jaw. She will be making her national team debut as the alternate. Wright was a member of Team Saskatchewan, winner of the 2012 Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship.

“We’re optimistic about the look of this team going to Finland,” said Greg Stremlaw, CEO of the Canadian Curling Association. “We ended the 2013-14 season ranked first in the world in wheelchair curling, and while we know Team Canada will be adjusting to a new lineup, I know this group and its coaching staff will be performing at its best in pursuit of the gold medal.”

Canada has won a leading three gold medals at the World Wheelchair Championship – 2009 in Vancouver, 2011 in Prague and 2013 in Sochi. Gaudet and Forrest were members of all three teams, as was national coach Joe Rea, who once again will be at the helm in Finland.

Team Canada will open round-robin play in the 10-team competition Saturday, Feb. 7 against China at the Kisakallio Sports Institute. The top four teams advance to the Page Playoff round, leading to the gold- and bronze-medal games on Feb. 13 at 4 a.m.

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