International wheelchair curling is back for the first time since March’s Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, with the World Wheelchair-B Curling Championship 2018 in Lohja, Finland.
This qualification event which begins on Friday (9 November) willl see the three medallists secure places at the 2019 Worlds to be held in Stirling, Scotland from 3-10 March. With 12 competing Member Associations, this will be the first World Championship since 2006 to have more than 10 teams.
Fourteen teams are competing in the B-event and are split into two groups of seven:
Group A: Czech Republic, England, Estonia, Italy, Slovenia, Slovakia and Turkey.
Group B: Denmark, hosts Finland, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden.
After 13 sessions of round-robin play, the two teams at the top of each group will progress to the semi-finals. A qualification round will be played between the team in second place in Group A and third place in Group B and between the teams that are third in Group A and second in Group B.
At the end of the competition all three medal winners – gold, silver and bronze – earn a place at the Worlds joining the already-qualified Norway, Russia*, Scotland, China, Canada, Korea, United States, Switzerland and Germany (ordered based on the final ranking from the 2017 Worlds).
Live scores from Lohja can be found on World Curling's website.
All the competing Member Associations have played in this event before, but for three of the skips they arrive in Lohja having represented their country at PyeongChang 2018.
They are the skip of the host nation, Finland, Yrjo Jaaskelainen; Slovakia’s skip Radoslav Duris and Sweden’s skip Viljo Petersson Dahl.
*Editor's note: The International Paralympic Committee suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee on 7 August 2016 for its inability to fulfil its IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is also a signatory). As a result of the suspension, Russian athletes cannot enter IPC sanctioned events or competitions, including the Paralympic Games.