The 2009 World Wheelchair Curling Championships will start this weekend in Vancouver, Canada, with athletes from around the world competing from 21-28 February.
Teams from Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, China, USA, Canada, Norway, Korea and Scotland will be competing in Vancouver, hoping to come away with one of the top medals.
After an Opening Ceremony on Saturday, competitions will take place at 12:30 and 18:00 from Saturday through Wednesday. Tie-breaker games will occur on Thursday and Friday, with the semi-finals and Medal Games on Saturday. An Awards Ceremony and Closing Ceremony will follow the final matches to end the 2009 World Wheelchair Curling Championships.
The World Wheelchair Curling Championships last year saw the Norwegian team with skip Rune Lorentsen take the gold medal, with Korea and USA winning the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
The new Vancouver Olympic Centre will be the venue for the Championships, located in a lively Vancouver community that includes Queen Elizabeth Park and views of the North Shore mountains.
The World Wheelchair Curling Championships are a ten-team tournament. Two teams play against each other at the same time and each team must be comprised of women and men. The game is played on ice, and the two teams take turns pushing a 19.1kg stone towards a series of concentric rings or circles. All players must deliver the stone from a stationary wheelchair which is positioned so that the stone is delivered from the centre line. The delivery of the stone may be undertaken by the conventional arm/hand release or by the use of a delivery stick. No sweeping is permitted. The object is to get the stones as close to the centre of the rings as possible.
One game consists of eight “ends”. During an end, each four-person team delivers eight stones – two stones per person and 16 altogether.
The team with the stone closest to the centre of the rings will be awarded a point at the completion of each end. This team will also score an additional point for every one of their stones closer to the centre than any of the opposing team's stones to a maximum of eight points. The team with the most points after eight ends is the winner.
The first World Cup in Curling for wheelchair players was held in January 2000 in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. Wheelchair Curling is a game of great skill and strategy and had its debut at the Torino 2006 Paralympic Winter Games. The sport is open to male and female athletes with a physical disability in the lower part of the body. This includes athletes with significant impairments in lower leg/gait function (e.g., spinal injury, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, double leg amputation, etc.), who require a wheelchair for daily mobility. Each team must be comprised of male and female players.