Friday, February 18, 2011

Scotland's Wheelchair Curlers Leave for Prague Worlds

Here is the Scotland team at Edinburgh Airport this morning on their Way to Prague for the World Wheelchair Curling Championship which begins on Tuesday. L-R: Mike McKenzie, Tom Killin, Aileen Neilson, Gregor Ewan, Angie Malone.

Much of the following is from the official WCF Press Release.

The 2011 World Wheelchair Curling Championship will be held at the Curling Hall Roztyly, in the Czech Capital Prague. Ten mixed national teams will compete in this the seventh edition of the World Wheelchair Curling Championship since its inauguration in Sursee, Switzerland in 2002.

Canada go into this event as defending champions, having won the last world championship in 2009. With wheelchair curling being part of the Paralympic Winter Games since Turin 2006, no wheelchair world championship is held in a Paralympic year. (Turin 2006 and Vancouver 2010). The 2009 world champions, led by Jim Armstrong and with one personnel change, went on to take gold at the Paralympics in Vancouver. They will represent Canada again in Prague. Those who follow the sport will know that Jim Armstrong's inclusion in the squad is somewhat controversial. You can read all about it in Eric Eales' Wheelchair Curling Blog, here, and in the comments following his posts.

More importantly, on the ice, the Chinese and Russian teams are taking part following their first and second place finishes at this season’s qualifying event, held in Lohja, Finland last November.

Korea took Paralympic silver last year, but the team for Prague is a new line up. Team Sweden, the Paralympic bronze medallists and 2009 world silver medallists, sees Jalle Jungnell moving from skip to coach. USA also have a team based largely on their Paralympic Winter Games squad, as does Scotland, with three team members having represented Great Britain last year in Vancouver, including Aileen Neilson, the only female skip in the field.

Sheila Swan is the Scotland Coach.

The Czech team, led by Radek Pokorný, qualify as hosts, and the line-up is completed by Germany, where Marcus Sieger has taken up position of skip since Vancouver, and Norway, skipped by two times world champion Rune Lorentsen.

Performances in Prague will be the first to generate qualifying points for the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia (unlike the women and the men where it will be performances next season that will count).

The official website for the event is here.

Top photo is courtesy of Judy Mackenzie.