In the three Paralympic Winter Games in which wheelchair curling has been a medal event, Canada has been perfect.
Three times — In Torino, Vancouver, and Sochi — the Canadian team stood atop the podium at the end of the week, with gold medals placed around their necks.
The quest for No. 4 begins Saturday as the 2018 Winter Paralympics get underway in Pyeongchang, although the team in the Maple Leaf jackets isn’t thinking of it that way.
“Obviously, there’s a bit of pressure with a record like that,” said Mark Ideson, skip of this year’s team. “But if you’re focused on the podium, or the medals, you’re going to miss a lot of things along the way. We’re just going to try to focus on the little things each day, and try to perform our best on the ice. If we can do that, the results will take care of themselves.”
Ideson, who is taking over the role of skip, was an alternate in Sochi for the 2014 games. The London, Ont., native is joined by returning team members Ina Forrest (Armstrong, B.C.) and Dennis Thiessen (Sanford, Man.).
Lead Marie Wright (Moose Jaw, Sask.), alternate Jamie Anseeuw (Oak Bluff, Man.) and coach Wayne Kiel (Balgonie, Sask.) round out the team; Wright and Anseeuw are both attending their first Paralympics.
The Canadian team travelled to Korea on March 1, and has spent the last few days practising and getting acclimated in Incheon, a suburb of Seoul.
“It’s been nice to have a few days to get settled in, and adjusted to the time change,” said Ideson. “We’ve been able to throw some rocks, have some team meetings, and again, make sure we’re focused on the right things, so when we do make the move into the Athlete’s Village in Pyeongchang, we’re going to be ready to go.”
Opening Ceremonies take place Friday and Canada opens its competition on Saturday at the Gangneung Curling Centre, with games against Switzerland and Norway. Team Canada will play in an 11-game round robin, after which the top four teams will move on to the playoff round.
Here’s a look at Canada’s round-robin schedule (All times Eastern):
March 10 — 12:35 a.m., vs. Switzerland
March 10 — 5:35 a.m. vs. Norway
March 11 — 12:35 a.m. vs. Sweden
March 11 — 8:35 p.m. vs. South Korea
March 12 — 6:35 a.m. vs. Great Britain
March 12 — 8:35 p.m. vs. China
March 13 — 6:35 a.m. vs. United States
March 14 — 1:35 a.m. vs. NPA (Russia)
March 14 — 6:35 a.m. vs. Slovakia
March 14 — 8:35 p.m. vs. Germany
March 15 — 1:35 a.m. vs. Finland