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Day 5 – Wheelchair curling and sledge hockey!

March 16, 2010

It was a busy day for me!  But a darn good one.  I managed to get some chores done this morning before heading to the Yaletown Canada Line station to meet my friend David for our journey out to the Vancouver Paralympic Centre to watch some wheelchair curling.  I did not have the opportunity to see any of the curling during the Olympics but I had heard that it was noisy in the venue.  I had heard that the crowds for curling baffled (and muffled!) the players.  They had never seen or played anywhere like it and often had to resort to hand signals as it was too noisy to be heard, even when they were screaming “hurry hard!”.  And I have to tell you, it can’t be much quieter now!

Wheelchair curling is fascinating.  I was amazed at the accuracy of the shots during the Olympics but these are no less impressive.  There is no sweeping in wheelchair curling, which means throws must be very accurate.  But the trick?  The athletes don’t really ‘throw’ the rocks, they push them with a specially designed stick, from their wheelchair.  This requires a good amount of strength as each stone is 19.1kg of Scottish granite and must be thrown from a total standstill.  A teammate acts as an anchor for the person throwing so that they don’t just push themselves backwards from the rock.  They can get a fierce amount of curl into the stone and their throw weights are amazing.  I can’t imagine how many hours of practice it takes!  I’m so glad I went and got to experience this sport.

The Canadian wheelchair curling team entering the rink.

David and I in the stands cheering for Canada!

We couldn’t stay for the entirety of the matches but Canada was leading Switzerland 9-1 when we left so we were confident we would do well (final score 15-1, final two ends not played).  The other sheets playing were Norway vs Japan and Germany versus Italy (11-3 and 7-6 respectively).  From there I popped home for a few minutes before heading out to see some sledge hockey with Katie.

Katie and I went to the Canada-Sweden game on Sunday.  It was the first time either of us had seen sledge hockey live before and it was super exciting!  Canada was definitely the stronger team though and beat Sweden 10-1.  Volunteering in the Salt Building in the Athlete’s Village does mean I occasionally get to speak to the athletes which is really wonderful.  On my Monday shift I was able to congratulate a few of our Team Canada guys on Sunday’s game and ask about today’s game.  They were excited for tonight, promising it would be faster and rougher.  I also got to speak to one of the Norwegian sledge hockey players and he seemed to be looking forward to the competition as well.  I was ready to see a very competitive game tonight!  And did we ever!

It was faster.  It was rougher.  And both teams played strong defensive games.  Shots on net – Canada: 12, Norway: 8.  Compare this to Sunday – Canada: more than 30 (can’t find the exact number), Sweden: 3.  So even though Canada did win 5-0 it was a much tighter game.  And a heckuva lot of fun to watch.  It is so exciting to see hockey where I know some of the players!  I love cheering for the guys I played Jenga and RockBand with, it is way too much fun.  What a wonderful event we are hosting here in Vancouver with the Paralympic Games.  I hope you have a chance to see some of the events, ’cause they are spectacular!

Some of Team Canada, prepping for the start of the third period.

Alright – in a very few hours I need to be up to go to Whistler to watch some biathlon.  The men’s 12.5km sitting and women’s 10km sitting competitions.  It also means that I’ll be visiting the Whistler Paralympic Park.  I’m really excited about this as it is the second to last of the competition venues that I’m going to.  Once I go to Whistler Creekside for alpine skiing on Sunday I will have made it to all of the competition venues as some point during the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic and Olympic Winter Games, and that is pretty cool.  So now I’m off for some sleep.

Thank you merci and Go Canada Go!

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Bob permalink
    March 17, 2010 12:11 am

    I go to Wheelchair Curling tomorrow at noon … Canada vs. Germany.
    On Thursday at noon I go to Sledge Hockey … semi-final game … Canada vs. Japan!!! I cannot wait!

    GO CANADA GO!

    It is great the support the Paralympic Athletes are getting. Great crowds at all events.

  2. Nancy permalink
    March 17, 2010 6:49 am

    Thank you so very, very much for your writing and stories. It is so difficult to find some news or coverage of the Paralympics that I am just soaking up your story. It is such a shame that these amazing paralympic athletes are not getting the same type of coverage on TV. Canadians would again be glued to their television sets and what a boom in awareness and support for paralympics that would have been!!!! Enjoy all the events you are attending.

  3. Carole Robertson permalink
    March 17, 2010 3:58 pm

    You are going to LOVE the Alpine skiing competion! I was at Whistler Creekside, the competition venue for the Alpine events. It turned out to be a decent day weatherwise and WOW those athletes are amazing!
    The schedules have changed due to adverse weather conditions earlier in the weekend, so check for the latest schedules @ http://www.vancouver2010.com . You can choose to exchange your ticket for another alpine event or just go on the day your ticket is good for, you won’t be disappointed.
    I was there Monday when Canada’s Lauren Wooltencroft won Gold and teammate Karolina Wisniewska won Bronze. The crowd was loud! I had a great day! You will too!

    • Carole Robertson permalink
      March 17, 2010 3:59 pm

      typing mistake….Lauren Woolstencroft

  4. Steph :) permalink
    March 17, 2010 10:03 pm

    Hi Andrea, thanks again for writing such an enjoyable blog to read! I am looking forward to hearing what you will be doing after the Paralympics are over. I was at the Canada vs. Sweden sledge hockey game on Sunday. It was my second time seeing a game…the first being Canada vs. USA last year here during Hockey Canada Cup. I am looking forward to watching my first wheelchair curling event on Saturday which is the medals games.

    You were wondering about the shots on goal…I took a photo of the shots on goal for the Canada vs. Sweden game as I couldn’t believe it…here’s what happened by period: 1st Canada 14, Sweden 1 (their only goal), 2nd Canada 11, Sweden 0, 3rd Canada 7, Sweden 2. Total shots on goal: Canada 32, Sweden 3!!!

  5. March 18, 2010 7:35 am

    Japan’s oldest Paralympics athlete is on the Wheelchair Curling team.
    He’s 75!

    I was hoping they’d get the gold…but unfortunately, the Japan team isn’t having much good luck. 😦

    My post about them:

    http://tokyo5.wordpress.com/2010/03/16/wheelchair-curling/

  6. Bob permalink
    March 18, 2010 2:43 pm

    Sadly I was at the Thunderbird Arena this afternoon to watch Japan beat Canada 3-1. However, when I got home my spirits were raised …. there was a message from CTV … I won 2 tickets to the sold out GOLD MEDAL sledge hockey game! GO JAPAN GO!!!!

    • Carole Robertson permalink
      March 18, 2010 8:19 pm

      Bob – that is SO awesome!!!!! Congrats!

    • March 18, 2010 11:08 pm

      Oh, that’s in ice hockey that Japan beat Canada. (in curling, Canada beat Japan).

      The ice hockey game for the gold medal will be America v. Japan…my country of birth vs my adopted homeland.

  7. March 24, 2010 9:37 am

    I was at the Canada vs Norway Sledge Hockey game where Canada won 5-0. I was down at ice level taking photos and enjoying my first ice sledge hockey experience. What an awesome sport!

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