2014 Winter Paralympics

After all the drama and excitement of the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February, the Russian city is now playing host to the XI Paralympic Winter Games.

The opening ceremony was on Friday with the first events taking place on Saturday and the Games come to an end on Sunday 16 March.

550 athletes from 45 nations are participating in 72 medal events across five sports – Alpine skiing, Biathlon, Cross-country skiing, Ice sledge hockey and Wheelchair curling. Snowboarding is making its first Winter Paralympic appearance.

Brazil, Turkey and Uzbekistan are making their Winter Paralympic debuts in Sochi.

The Paralympic mascots – Snezhinka (Snowflake) and Luchik (Ray of Light)

Great Britain has a total of twelve athletes competing in Sochi – seven alpine skiers and five curlers. Technically, however, there are fifteen Team GB athletes at these Paralympics as three of the skiers are visually impaired and require guides.

Time to meet the Team GB wheelchair curlers…

Great Britain (L-R): Aileen Neilson (Skip), Gregor Ewan (Third), Bob McPherson (Second), Jim Gault (Lead), Angie Malone (Alternate)

Coach Tony Zummack is also in Sochi with the team. Did you know that Aileen is the only female skip at the Paralympics?

Great Britain are one of ten mixed teams competing in the venue that hosted the 2013 World Wheelchair Curling Championship, the Ice Cube Curling Centre – they are joined by Canada, China, Finland, Korea, Norway, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and the USA.

China, Finland, Russia and Slovakia are making their Winter Paralympic debuts.

They are playing a round-robin until Thursday 13 then it’s tie-breakers on Friday (if necessary) followed by playoffs and medals on Saturday.

The first World Wheelchair Curling Championship was held in January 2002 and in March that year, the International Paralympic Committee granted official medal status to wheelchair curling for mixed gender teams and since then the medals have gone to these nations:

2006 (Torino, Italy)
Gold – Canada
Silver – Great Britain
Bronze – Sweden

2010 (Vancouver, Canada)
Gold – Canada
Silver – Korea
Bronze – Sweden

Wouldn’t it be great to add another medal to the Paralympic collection?

Here’s Team GB’s schedule and the times are all UK time (Sochi is four hours ahead of the UK):

Saturday 8 – 0530 – v. Canada (Lost 6-3)
Sunday 9 – 0530 – v. Sweden (Won 6-4)
Sunday 9 – 1130 – v. Korea (Won 8-4)
Monday 10 – 1130 – v. Slovakia (Won 12-2)
Tuesday 11 – 0530 – v. Finland
Tuesday 11 – 1130 – v. Norway
Wednesday 12 – 0530 – v. Russia
Thursday 13 – 0530 – v. USA
Thursday 13 – 1130 – v. China

As you can see it has been a really good start for Team GB with three wins and just the one loss to reigning champions Canada.

Great Britain are also represented by Scott Henderson who is Chief Ice Technician, Ian Addison who is Deputy Chief Umpire, Colin Melrose who is a Game Umpire and Glenda Barrowman who is Chief Statistician.

If you want to follow Great Britain’s progress then Channel 4 have been showing some of the action while all the scores and standings are to be found here on the WCF’s event website.

Photo is © WCF/Alina Pavlyuchik 2014
Images are © IPC and Russian Post