Wheelchair curling is enjoyed recreationally as well as competitively by athletes of varying ability levels and ages as it requires less physical exertion than most traditional sports.
It is not an aerobic activity, and all that is needed is the coordination to exert a measured pushing force, and a tolerance for the cold atmosphere it is played in. Wheelchair curling is played without sweepers which makes it well suited for a two-person game such as stick-curling.
Wheelchair curling is played with the same rocks and on the same ice as regular curling, though the rocks are thrown from a stationary wheelchair and there is no sweeping. Rocks may be thrown by hand while leaning over the side of the wheelchair, or pushed by a delivery stick. This is a pole with a bracket that fits over the rock handle, allowing the rock to be pushed while applying correct rotation.
Stones delivered between the house and the near hogline must be placed within 18 inches either side of the centre line and must be released prior to reaching the near hogline.
History of the Sport:
Wheelchair curling began in Europe in the late 1990s and in North America in 2002. It was first introduced at a global competition in 2000 during a seminar at the World Handi Ski Championship in Crans Montana, Switzerland. The sport is now practiced by athletes in 25 countries around the globe.
The first World Wheelchair Curling Championship was held in Sursee, Switzerland in 2002, and was won by the host nation who beat Canada 7–6 in the final. It started as a Paralympic sport at the 2006 Winter Paralympics in Turin, Italy. Canada, skipped by Chris Daw, won the gold medal, beating Great Britain, skipped by Frank Duffy, 7–4 in the final.
The 2009 World Championship was held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in the same venue used for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Team Canada, skipped by 6-time Brier competitor Jim Armstrong, finished the round robin in 4th place but defeated USA 9–2 in the Page playoff, Germany 10–4 in the semi-final and Sweden 9–2 in the final to win their first ever Worlds gold medal.
Canada repeated as Paralympic Champions in Vancouver 2010 when the all-British Columbia team of Sonja Gaudet, Ina Forrest, Darryl Neighbour and skip Jim Armstrong, after taking an early 8–1 lead, defeated South Korea 8-7 for the gold medal. Sweden, who had their 3rd Glenn Ikonen disqualified for failing a drug test, beat USA 7–5 to win bronze.
At their April 2010 semi-annual meeting, the World Curling Federation lifted their ban on the use of power chairs at WCF sanctioned events.
Rules – How to Play the Sport:
National and international competitions are played under rules devised by the World Curling Federation. These rules mandate that teams be of mixed gender, and that games be eight ends in duration. Time limits of 38 minutes of thinking time for each team with one 60 second time out will be enforced by time clocks.
The World Curling Federation established classification guidelines and eligibility criteria that focus on individuals who are non-ambulatory and or can only walk for limited short distances. Eligible athletes include: those with significant impairments in their lower leg(s) that affect their gait function, such as spinal injury, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis or double leg amputation, also athletes who use a wheelchair for daily mobility.
Eligibility is limited to people with disabilities such that a wheelchair is used for daily mobility – more specifically, those who are non-ambulant or can walk only very short distances, and the classification rules are in place to help promote a level and fair playing field at World Championship and Paralympic competitions.