On February 15, the World Wheelchair Curling Championship was opened at the "Ice Cube" Curling Center in Sochi, Russia by the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee under the aegis of the World Curling Federation. Sochi welcomes wheelchair athletes from the 10 leading countries of the world wheelchair curling: Canada, China, Finland, Korea, Norway, Russia, Scotland, Slovakia, Sweden and USA. The highly representative competition is the first international Test Event for Paralympic sport and the first tournament of this rank at the "Ice Cube" Curling Center, which will host the curling and wheelchair curling competitions at the 2014 Games.
From February 16 to 21, the teams are holding a round robin tournament in which each team is facing all the other participants. After three competition days, convincing leadership has been taken by the team of Canada, two-time Paralympic champions and one of the main favorites of the World Championship.
The “Maple Leaves” have won five victories in five matches so far, including the one over the 2012 world champions, Russia. The host nation is currently ranked in the middle of the table having just two wins in the first five games. One of the Russia’s victories was won over one of the major rivals – team of Korea, 2012 runners-up and 2010 Paralympic runners-up who have been unable yet to score a victory in any of the played matches of the tournament.
On February 22, the four best teams in the round robin tournament will meet in what is called the page-playoffs: the team that won 1st place in the round robin will face the team that took 2nd place. The winner goes to the final, and loser to the semifinal. Teams that come 3rd and 4th in the round robin will play each other. The winner goes to the semifinal, while the loser of the match plays for the third place. On the same day, there will be a semifinal game, the winner of which will take part in the final, and the loser will play for the third place.
On February 23, gold and bronze medal games of the World Championship will be played.
Quotes of the Championship
Sonja Gaudet (Canada), twice Paralympic champion (2006, 2010) and twice world champion (2009, 2011): “The venue here is beautiful. As soon as we got in here, we got our own dressing room which is wonderful, couple of washings just for us. It’s very accessible, coming into the venue here right into the arena ice is very brave, very nice. It’s a really great feeling being here, it’s a really nice, positive energy.”
Patrick McDonald (USA): “It was amazing when we came up here in the first day, when we saw that all buildings have been built and everything is ready. The test event is running very successful right now and I am sure it will be running the same way the rest of the week. I'm sure every small titbits will be fixed and next year it's going to be better than ever! Can't wait for the next year!”
Marat Romanov (Russia): “The ice is splendid, all is good, we are delighted. Everything is new to us here, and we feel care. When we get used to it, the venue will become home for us.”
Vesa Hellman (Finland): “I think they have done a great job. I like the ice, accommodation is quite near here, and the conditions are quite similar to everyone. I think there will be a great event here in a year.”
Osku Kuutamo (Finland), coach: “Accessibility and facilities are good, and that’s the main point for the athletes as they are able to do their best on the ice.”
Notes to the Editor
The "Ice Cube" Curling Center is the smallest, but probably one the most comfortable sports venues in the Olympic Park. The design of the venue is minimalistic and it symbolizes democracy and accessibility as well as festivity, which are characteristics of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The name has associations with the architectural form of the venue, which is 19.3 m high and 30 m x 60 m in width and length.