Paralympic Winter Games
04 - 13 March

Sport Week: Ones to watch for Wheelchair Curling

Get ready to be amazed by the focus and control of some of the world’s best curlers 18 Feb 2022 By Lucy Dominy | For the IPC

Always a hit at the Winter Paralympics is the mesmerising sport of Wheelchair Curling. 

Here are some of the top athletes hoping to draw you in to the action at Beijing 2022.

Kristina Ulander (SWE)

Working hard to help Sweden gain a coveted medal at Beijing 2022 is hotshot Kristina “Kicki” Ulander.

Having made her Paralympic debut at Sochi 2014, Ulander has been part of the medal winning team from the 2013 and 2020 – as well as the most recent in 2021 - World Championships. Sweden even overcame Paralympic champions China for bronze in 2020, with Ulander as vice-skip.

Sweden finished third at the Paralympics in both 2006 and 2010. Ulander will be a key piece of their bid to return to the podium.

Ⓒ WCF / Alina Pavlyuchik 2021

Polina Rozkova (LAT)

Latvian skip Polina Rozkova has guided her team from promotion to the World Championships right through to qualifying for their first Winter Paralympics at Beijing 2022.

Rozkova has led the squad through challenges, such as a lack of ice time to practice in Latvia, to register wins against the likes of triple Paralympic champions Canada since making their Worlds debut in 2019.

Ⓒ WCF / Alina Pavlyuchik 2021

Haitao Wang (CHN)

Wang skipped China to history at PyeongChang 2018. Not only did the nation capture their first gold medal in Wheelchair Curling, but also their first at a Paralympic Winter Games.

Wang was also integral in guiding China to their first finals appearance at the World Championships in 2015. Despite losing the gold medal-match, Wang helped his team contend again in 2017. A loss to eventual champions Norway in the playoffs dashed their hopes of their first world title.

But it was third time lucky for the Chinese in 2019. Competing against Scotland in the final, Wang executed a perfect take-out to remove the Scottish stone and any chance Scotland had of winning gold. He was also instrumental in their successful title bid against Sweden in 2021.

Ⓒ Getty Images

Mark Ideson (CAN)

Taking up Wheelchair Curling in 2010, three years after being involved in a helicopter crash, Mark Ideson won Paralympic gold with Canada at Sochi 2014.

Ideson also played a major role in their bronze medal success at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.

He has been on the squad for two of Canada’s best World Championships showings in the last decade. He helped them to gold in 2013 and, after a six-year medal drought at that level, silver in 2020.

Ⓒ OIS Photos

Ole Fredrik Syversen (NOR)

Syversen was important in keeping the spirits high during a nerve-racking final at PyeongChang 2018. His side lost out on the gold medal to China, but you can count on the Norwegian to help pick his teammates back up.

Syversen’s role on the team goes beyond his second position. He is considered the “glue guy,” and is also the team administrator. 

He was part of the team that took the 2017 world title. He also experienced his first major medal moment a year before, when Norway captured silver.

Ⓒ Getty Images

Matthew Thums (USA)

Matthew Thums skipped the USA to gold at the 2021 World Wheelchair Curling B Championships in his first season in the role.

After that promotion, he then led them to the semi-finals at the 2021 World Championships. Despite losing out to eventual champions China, the team did secure a spot at Beijing 2022.

Using a simple formula of ‘Eat. Sleep. Curl,’ Thums is now preparing to make his Paralympic debut. 

Ⓒ WCF / Alina Pavlyuchik 2021