PyeongChang 2018: Wheelchair curling profiles – Part Two24.02.2018
A closer look at four of the 12 teams competing at the Paralympic Winter Games
Before the competition gets underway in the Gangneung Curling Centre, from 10 March, here is a closer look at another four of those teams.
With the exception of hosts South Korea, the participating Member Associations (MAs) earned their place at the Games through the sum of their qualification points gained at the World Wheelchair Curling Championships (WWhCCs) held in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
All competing MAs have previous experience at the Paralympic Games, with five of them already medalling at the event since its debut at the Paralympic Winter Games in 2006 in Torino, Italy.
Switzerland hosted the inaugural World Championship in 2002, winning gold on home ice. The Swiss medalled three more times at WWhCCs, winning silver in 2004 and 2007, and bronze in 2005.
However, since 2007, Switzerland have struggled to find World Championship success, and their first Paralympic podium finish is also yet to come. They have taken part in two Games, finishing sixth in 2006 followed by a 10th placed finish in 2010.
Third, Claudia Huettenmoser, is the only player with Paralympic experience, while skip Felix Wagner, second Marcel Bodenmann, lead Beatrix Blaeuel and alternate Hans Burgener will all be making their debuts on Paralympic ice.
The team earned their berth at the Games by finishing fourth in 2016 and eighth in 2017's WWhCC.
Wagner led the team in both events and is looking forward to the new challenge in the Republic of Korea:
"The Paralympic tournament will be a new and exciting experience for our team. For the first time 12 teams will participate and the round robin will be a great physical and mental challenge. Our team has worked hard and will be well prepared to travel to PyeongChang. We want to play our potential from game to game and hope it will be enough for the semi-finals."
Finland qualified for the Paralympic Winter Games by winning a bronze medal at the WWhCC in 2015 in front of their home crowd in Lohja and finishing 10th in both the 2016 and 2017 Championships.
Skip Sari Karjalainen along with husband and fourth player Markku Karjalainen - is one of the most experienced wheelchair curling players from Finland. The couple competed in all of the qualification WWhCCs and also in Finland's Paralympic debut in Sochi in 2014, where they finished 10th.
Karjalainen said: "Playing tournaments have given us self-confidence and trust in our skills. If we have a good day, we can beat any team, but in a bad day we can lose to any team. So, we wish that in PyeongChang we get more of those good days. We will enjoy the Games in South Korea with relaxed and good feeling and will enjoy the spirit and atmosphere of the Paralympics. The target for our team is to show our capabilities and the joy of playing. If we succeed in that, not even the brightest coloured medal is impossible."
Third Yrjo Jaaskelainen, lead Vesa Leppanen and alternate Riitta Sarosalo complete the team.
Slovak wheelchair curling is one of the fastest growing in the international field. The discipline was introduced in the country in the 2006, and they made their first World Championship appearance in 2012 with an impressive fourth place finish. Since then they have taken part in all WWhCCs, with the exception of the 2017 competition. In qualifying for the Paralympic Winter Games they finished fourth and ninth - in the 2015 and 2016 Worlds respectively.
Three of their Paralympic team members - skip Radoslav Duris, fourth Dusan Pitonak and lead Monika Kunkelova - participated in the Games and finished sixth four years ago, while second Imrich Lyocsa and alternate Peter Zatko will experience the Paralympic atmosphere for the first time in the Gangneung Curling Centre.
Sweden is the only nation with more Paralympic experience than appearances in Paralympic qualification championships. The Swedes were the last team to qualify for the Games, finishing in 12th place in the qualification rankings, having earned a ninth place finish at the world championships in 2015, while not qualifying for the WWhCCs in 2016 or 2017.
Their Paralympic results however, show how great a tradition wheelchair curling has in the country: they have taken part in every Games, winning bronze twice, in 2006 in Torino and in 2010 in Vancouver, while finishing seventh in 2014 in Sochi.
This year's national squad consists of four Paralympic debutants - skip Viljo Petersson-Dahl, third Ronny Persson, second Mats-Ola Engborg and lead Licki Ulander - while alternate Zandra Reppe made her first appearance at the Games in Sochi.
The Paralympic Winter Games take place in PyeongChang, South Korea from 9-18 March. Tickets can be purchased here.
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