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Thursday, February 5, 2015

2015 World Wheelchair Curling Championships are getting underway on Saturday


Paralympic and world champions Canada are looking to add a fourth title to their collection.

Sonja Gaudet
Canada's Sonja Gaudet led her team to a second consecutive wheelchair curling Paralympic gold medal at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. © • Getty Images
Play begins at the 2015 World Wheelchair Curling Championships on Saturday (7 February) at the Kisakallio Sports Institute in Lohja, Finland.

Ten mixed national teams will compete in the event, which marks the start of the qualification process for the wheelchair curling competition at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.

The Championships open with a round-robin running from 7-11 February.

Thereafter, one round of tie-breaker games will be played on Thursday, 12 February.

The semi-final will then take place at 9:00 on Friday, 13 February, followed by both the bronze and gold medal games at 14:00 local time.

These are the first World Wheelchair Curling Championships since the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

Many of the athletes who competed in Russia will return to represent their country in Finland. They include reigning World and Paralympic champions Canada, winners of this event on three occasions (2009, 2011 and 2013).

This year they will be skipped by Mark Ideson (lead), along with fellow Paralympic and World Championship gold medallists Ina Forrest (fourth), Dennis Thiessen (third) and three-time Paralympic gold medal winner Sonja Gaudet (second). They will be joined by Marie Wright as alternate.

Russia return with the same team who won the World Wheelchair Curling Championships in 2012 and then picked up the Paralympic silver medal in Sochi last year.

The team is comprised of Andrey Smirnov (skip), Marat Romanov (third), Oxana Slesarenko (second), Alexander Shevchenko (lead) and Svetlana Pakhomova (alternate).

Great Britain won the bronze medal at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. They were represented by a team from Scotland, with four members of that team returning to challenge for the 2015 world title.

They include Aileen Neilson, the only female skip in the field; Gregor Ewan (third); Jim Gault (second) and Angie Malone (lead). They will be supported by alternate Hugh Nibloe.

China were runners up in the bronze medal game at the Sochi 2014 Paralympics, finishing in fourth place. They are represented by the exact same team this year, with 2012 and 2013 World Wheelchair Curling Championships bronze medallist HaiTao Wang (skip) along with Wei Liu (third); Qiang Zhang (second); GuangQin Xu (lead) and Jun He (alternate).

Sweden finished with the silver medals in the last World Wheelchair Curling Championships in 2013 after losing out to Canada.

Two-time Paralympic Games bronze medallist (2006 and 2010) and two time World Championship silver medallist (2009 and 2013), Jalle Jungell, returns to skip Sweden.

He skips a team that includes three of the athletes that finished in seventh position at the Sochi 2014 Paralympics – Patrik Kallin (third); Kristina Ulander (lead) and Zandra Reppe (alternate).

They are joined this year by Ronny Persson (second), a Paralympic bronze medallist in the downhill skiing competitions at both the 1998 Nagano and 2002 Salt Lake City Paralympic Winter Games.

USA will again be represented by skip Patrick McDonald and almost the same team who earned a fourth place finish in the World Wheelchair Curling Championships in 2013.

At last year’s Paralympics, four members of this team - Patrick McDonald (skip); James (Jimmy) Joseph (second); Penny Greely (lead) and Meghan Lino (alternate), finished in fifth place. For this year’s Championships they are joined by third Stephen Emt.

Slovakia made their World Wheelchair Curling Championships debut three years ago and skip Radoslav Duris returns with the same team that performed well in both the 2012 and 2013 World Championships. He skipped them to a sixth place finish at the Paralympics last year.

His team consists of Branislav Jakubec (third); Dusan Pitonak (second); Monika Kunkelova (lead) and Imrich Lyocsa will be alternate.

Finland, skipped by Markku Karjalainen, qualified for their first World Wheelchair Curling Championships in 2013 where they finished in eighth position before making their Paralympic debut in 2014 where they finished 10th.

Lining up alongside Karjalainen in his team this year is Sari Karjalainen (third); Mina Mojtahedi (second); Tuomo Aarnikka (lead) and Vesa Leppanen (alternate).

Norway return with 2007 and 2008 world champion skip Rune Lorentsen after they won the World Wheelchair Curling Qualification event in Lillehammer in November 2014.

He skips a team that includes Jostein Stordahl (third); Ole Fredrik Syversen (second); Sissel Loechen (lead) and Gina Kristin Broendbo (alternate).

Germany were the other team to qualify from the qualification event in Norway last November. They will be skipped by Jens Jaeger, a World Wheelchair Curling Championships bronze medallist in 2009.

His team also includes Christiane Putzich (third); Martin Schlitt (second); Heike Melchior (lead) and Robert Hering (alternate).

Results, news and photos from the World Wheelchair Curling Championship 2015 can be seen on the World Curling Federation’s official event website

The local organising committee, in cooperation with the Finnish Curling Association, will be webstreaming some games from the World Wheelchair Curling Championship 2015. For more details, visit World Wheelchair Curling Championships website.

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