Canadian wheelchair curlers showed they mean business on the opening day of action at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, overcoming defending champions China and Switzerland.
In the re-match of the semi-final from the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, when Canada lost to the eventual champions, the North Americans showed their winning potential.
In the first two ends, the teams exchanged single scores, even though they attempted to blank the ends both times.
Canada made their breakthrough in the fourth end, scoring three points, mainly due to two perfect shots by fourth player Jon Thurston.
Canada led the game by 4-2 going into the fifth end. In that end, Wang Haitao’s complete miss on his last take-out attempt gave a steal of one point to Canada.
China could not generate a multiple-score in the sixth end and needed to settle for a single to go down 5-3.
In the seventh, Canada had a draw for three points, but Thurston was heavy with his last draw attempt, and they only scored two for 7-3.
In the eighth end, Canada ran China out of stones, making 7-3 the end result.
After their game, Canada’s second player Dennis Thiessen said, “I think our team came really prepared, we’ve had great training sessions and we changed a few things, and we worked our butts off. And hopefully it’s gonna show all week.”
Canada celebrated winning both of their opening games. Ⓒ Getty Images
Reflecting on the fact they defeated the reigning Paralympic champions, he added, “We knew that they’re seeded number one and the fanbase that they will have, so for us, we knew it was a big game coming in.”
Canada then overcame Switzerland 8-4 in the day’s second round of matches.
Norway overcome Great Britain
Current Paralympic silver medallists Norway dominated the first half of their game against Great Britain, scoring two in the second and stealing two in the third end.
Great Britain put a second single on the board in the fourth end, and the teams went into the break with a 4-2 result, Norway leading.
Great Britain started the second half in an excellent manner, stealing two points in the fifth as Norway skip, Jostein Stordahl was not successful with his last take-out attempt.
Leading by 5-4 after six ends, Norway stole two points in the seventh end when Great Britain fourth player Gregor Ewan wrecked on a guard with his last draw attempt.
In the last end, Great Britain scored one point, making the final score 7-5, Norway winning.
Great Britain did however get on the board with a win later in the day against the USA, 10-6.
Strong start for Sweden
Current world silver medallists, Sweden started strong against Switzerland, scoring two in the first and stealing two in the second end to take and early 4-0 lead.
The teams went into the break with a 5-1 half-time result, in Sweden’s favour.
The Scandinavians continued to dominate the game in the second half, scoring three points in the fifth, and stealing a single in the sixth end.
After putting a single score on the board in the seventh end, Switzerland conceded defeat with a 9-2 end result.
Slovakia slide past the USA
Slovakia had a flying start to their game against the USA. After two perfect stones by Slovak fourth player, Peter Zatko, they scored two in the first end.
They followed that up with a big steal of four points when, in the second end, USA skip Matthew Thums wrecked on a guard with list last draw attempt to score a single point.
The Americans got on the board with a single point in the third to reduce their deficit to 6-1.
The USA managed to put a multiple-score on the board only in the fifth end, a two, to go down 7-3.
After a Slovak single score in the sixth and single steal in the seventh the USA conceded defeat with a 9-3 result, Slovakia victorious.
After their win, Slovakia’s fourth player, Peter Zatko said, “The second end was very crucial. We were good from the beginning of this game, they [United States] made some mistakes and we only needed to keep it simple.”
Speaking in general about his Paralympic experience, he added, “In the first discipline of the Paralympics, our [Para Alpine] skier, Henrietta Farkasova got gold medal and we are inspired by her. We believe that we can get some success here as well.”
Perfect debut for Latvia
Coming into Beijing 2022 struggling for ice-time, Latvia stepped out onto the Paralympic ice for the first time.
And what a debut it was as they overcame the more experienced South Koreans 8-4.
Polina Rozkova of Latvia led her team to a fantastic opening victory. Ⓒ Getty Images