Forrest named to Team Canada
Canada will send a familiar – and accomplished – team to the 2021 World Wheelchair Curling Championship, it was announced today by Curling Canada.
The same five members who won silver at the most recent World Wheelchair Curling Championship in 2020 will return for a trip to Beijing from Oct. 23-30 and work together in hopes of setting the stage for their pursuit of a return to the Paralympic podium in 2022.
The team will feature BC’s Ina Forrest, a three-time world champion and two-time Paralympic champion from Armstrong. The team is rounded out by Mark Ideson (London, Ont.), Collinda Joseph (Stittsville, Ont.), Dennis Thiessen (Winnipeg) and Jon Thurston (Dunsford, Ont.). They enter the event riding a wave of momentum after achieving a world championship podium finish for the first time for Canada in five years. The silver-medal result was a significant accomplishment considering Canada had to qualify for the 2020 World Wheelchair Curling Championship through the World Wheelchair Curling B-event.
The five athletes will be accompanied by an accomplished coaching and support team. Mick Lizmore (Edmonton) is the team’s head coach. This will be his first competition as head coach of the Canadian wheelchair curling program after serving as assistant coach in 2020. Wendy Morgan (Burlington, Ont.) will join as the team leader/assistant coach and returns for her ninth world championship with the team. The athletes will also be supported by Dr. Steve Macaluso (London, Ont.), physiotherapist Sari Shatil (London, Ont.), and Dr. Kyle Paquette (Gatineau, Que.), the team’s mental performance consultant.
“Throughout the order, this group of incredible Canadian athletes has a proven track record of battling through adversity and working together to achieve goals. That will go a long way for the team this season as we prepare to take on a Paralympic year,” said Lizmore.
“We have assembled a team of dedicated, focused and talented athletes, coaches and support staff who will do the Maple Leaf proud,” said Gerry Peckham, Curling Canada’s Director of High Performance.
The team has a foundation of experience, including two Canadian Curling Hall of Fame inductees in Forrest and Thiessen. Thiessen’s resume includes gold medals at both the world championship and Paralympics. Ideson was on the team that earned gold at the 2014 Paralympics and skipped the team to a bronze medal at the 2018 Paralympic Games. Forrest and Thiessen also earned bronze medals at that competition.
In 2019, Joseph and Thurston earned roles on Team Canada as rookies on the international stage. From there, they took on critical roles at the 2020 world championship, Joseph making contributions at both the second and fifth positions and Thurston throwing fourth stones.
The players were selected from an established pool of athletes through a selection process related to performance, positional fit and flexibility and a collection of additional performance indicators.
The 2021 World Wheelchair Curling Championship is a test event for the upcoming 2022 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The event was initially scheduled from March 6-13, 2021 but postponed to its new date in October. As is the case every four years, there will be no world wheelchair curling event in lieu of the Paralympics in 2022.
The 2021 World Wheelchair Curling Championship is the final opportunity for countries to earn Paralympic qualifying points. Countries earned a running tally of points over the three world wheelchair curling championships leading up to the Paralympics. After this event, the 11 teams with the most points will earn a spot at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games. China has secured an automatic berth as the host nation. Canada currently sits sixth overall in the standings with 15 points over the past two seasons.