“It was the performance we were looking for throughout the whole week, and we just happened to get it in the most important game,”
Canada reaffirmed their position as the dominant force in wheelchair curling as they etched their names into the history books with a third consecutive gold medal at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games – making it one of the Top 50 Moments of 2014.
Coming up against Russia in the final, with the strong home crowd against them, Canada quickly found themselves behind by two after the first end, and the pressure was on.
But they soon turned on the class, securing eight points to Russia’s none over the next six ends to win that coveted third Paralympic crown.
Consistency is key
Sonja Gaudet has been the only permanent member of the Canadian side since that first gold medal at the Torino 2006 Paralympic Winter Games in Italy, also winning the second on home soil at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.
The 48-year-old stated that despite the pressure of the final in Russia, the positive feeling amongst the Canadian team led them to glory.
“Securing the third Paralympic gold medal felt as satisfying as it did the first time in Torino and the second time in Vancouver,” she said.
“After the first end, we did not get nervous. Our conversation throughout was how incredibly awesome everyone was feeling. We kept each other focused, positive and our communication was clear and precise about each shot we needed to make.”
In comparison to Gaudet, Mark Ideson was making his Paralympic debut for Canada, and he felt that all their hard work was rewarded with that impressive display in the final.
“It was the performance we were looking for throughout the whole week, and we just happened to get it in the most important game,” he said.
“We just happened to hit our stride at the exact right time.”
It was not an easy ride to the final for the Canadians, however, as they headed into the play-off stage after a heavy 12-1 defeat to Finland in their final group game.
They then faced a tense semi-final against China, and after leading 3-1 after four ends, they were pegged back to 3-3 with two to play. Two more points in the seventh end gave Canada the advantage, and despite a spirited counter attack from China, they held on for a 5-4 victory to reach the final.
The Canadian team was a mix of experienced players – like Gaudet, Ina Forrest and skipper Jim Armstrong, who was also part of the winning team in 2010 – and Paralympic newcomers Dennis Thiessen and Ideson.
And 38-year-old Ideson feels that having the expertise of these individuals around him helped secure the title.
“It is great to have the experience of the players that have been there before,” he said.
“Dennis and I both drew on the experience of Sonja and Jim from their past Paralympic Games, and they certainly gave us the confidence we needed to play the best we could.”
“With Jim Armstrong calling the game, it certainly put us at an advantage, because Jim is a very experienced skip and he has seen a lot of situations, so I think that helped.”
Gaudet also feels that the tactical nous she has developed throughout her career gave her the crucial advantage against Russia.
“The experiences I have gained over the years, learning and focusing on being a supportive teammate both on and off the ice, and staying focused on the task at hand when at a Paralympic Games, gave me an advantage in Sochi,” she said.
“It was a great feeling to be part of an awesome team that works so well together, has such great team dynamics, and ended up winning Canada's third consecutive Paralympic title.”
Visit the IPC’s Top 50 Moments of 2014 campaign page for more information.