The ice sheets are being prepared in Stirling, Great Britain, for the World Wheelchair Curling Championship 2019, set for 3-10 March, a year on from the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.
The tournament returns to Great Britain for the first time since 2005. It will be the first opportunity for nations to earn qualification slots toward the next Games at Beijing 2022.
The 12 teams were confirmed following November’s World Championship B-Pool in Lohja, Finland, where the top three finishers Estonia, Slovakia and Latvia secured their places in Stirling.
The 2019 Worlds will be historic for Estonia and Latvia, as they both will make their first Worlds appearance. Slovakia return to the big stage after being absent from the 2017 edition.
They will all join Canada, China, Germany, South Korea, Norway, Russia*, Scotland, Switzerland and the USA.
China will enter as favourites, having won their nation’s first gold medal at a Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang. Reigning world champions Norway will look to defend their title and bounce back from the disappointment of their Paralympic loss to China. Meanwhile PyeongChang bronze medallists Canada showed they are back on the rise after having been absent from a major international podium since winning gold at Sochi 2014.
*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.