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BC wheelchair provincials set to start

January 23, 2020

The top wheelchair curling teams in the province are due to meet in Cloverdale to vie for the opportunity to represent BC at nationals.

The 2020 BC Wheelchair Curling Championships take place at Cloverdale Curling Club from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2.

The winner of the event will play at nationals April 25-30 at Club de curling de Boucherville in Boucherville, Que.

BC is home to some of the most decorated wheelchair curlers in the world including Canadian Paralympic gold medalists Darryl Neighbour, Ina Forrest and Sonja Gaudet.

Neighbour (Richmond), the winner of last year’s event in Langley, is back to skip his team of third Ellis Tull (Nanaimo), second Frank LaBounty (Prince George), lead Janice Ing (Vancouver) and fifth Ina Forrest (Armstrong). Neighbour and Forrest have both won gold at the Paralympics, while LaBounty has been to nationals 10 times previously. Ing has gone to nationals for the past four years and Ellis Tull has been on the world stage as part of the Canadian wheelchair curling team that represents Canada abroad. Vic Shimizu is coaching the team.

Team Austgarden features Gerry Austgarden (Kelowna), a 6-time BC champion, Rick Robinson (Surrey), Marney Smithies (Delta) and Tracy Boyd (Langley). They are joined by coach Sharon Morrison.

Team Macdonald features Bob Macdonald (Tunnel Town/Delta), a three-time BC champion, Allison Duddy (Quesnel), a five-time BC champion, Gary Cormack (Surrey), a seven-time BC champion,  and Vince Miele (Marpole/Richmond), a four-time BC champion.

Team Plan B-C is skipped by Zosia Ettenberg (Langley), with Robert Pullen playing third and Jeff Smithies (Delta) at second. Mildred Thomas plays lead. Compared with the other teams, this team is relatively new to the sport, with Jeff Smithies in his first season of competitive curling.

The draw and scores for the event will be updated at http://bot.curlbc.ca//web/Comp?compid=3142.

Anyone who is interested in trying wheelchair curling should check out the sessions at Delta Thistle Curling Club: https://deltathistle.ca/index.php/13-club-info/485-friday-wheel-chair-drop-in-curling.