Russia* have dominated wheelchair curling in the last few years, winning back to back World Championships. At the 2017 edition in Gangneung, South Korea, they looked all set to make it three in a row. But no one told Norway, who pulled off one of the biggest shocks in the sport’s history to defeat the defending champions and snatch gold.
This historic moment comes in at No. 28 on the International Paralympic Committee’s Top 50 Moments of 2017.
Russia had gone through the tournament undefeated and looked set to repeat their victory from the last World Championships. This year’s final pitted them against Norway; a re-run of the 2016 final. But team skip Rune Lorentsen said there was one key he believes helped Norway prevent history from repeating itself in 2017, and instead secure an 8-3 victory.
“We got a new coach who is good in getting the best at everyone,” Lorentsen said. “He can push the right buttons to really turn us on. I think that was the main reason because the practice we have done over the last five years — we practiced a lot. But the thing that we were lacking was a good coach who could take us the rest of the way to be a very good team.”
“The things we had practiced were working and our confidence was growing by each win that we felt the team were stronger and stronger so it was a good feeling that we could finally beat Russia who have been good over several years. We met them last year in Switzerland, so this was fantastic.
“The Russians, you know you can’t do mistakes because if you give them the little stick they will take the whole hand.”
The 2017 Worlds also acted as a Test Event for PyeongChang 2018, where Lorentsen hopes to land that eluded Paralympic medal.
“I have three World Championship medals but never a medal in Paralympics, so a medal in the Paralympics is our main goal. It will be hard to get a medal,” Lorentsen said. “Main key is managing to get among the four best after the round robin.”
The countdown of the Top 50 Moments will continue until 31 December.
*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.
On 6 September 2017, the IPC put in place a limited interim measure for athletes to compete as neutrals in qualification events across four World Para sports for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games. These sports are alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country and snowboard.
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