Top 5 tips to get started in wheelchair curling from pioneering champion Rozkova

Latvia’s Polina Rozkova, who won the mixed doubles tournament at the World Wheelchair Curling Championship in March 2023, says enjoying playing with your teammates and embracing the cold are important when taking up the sport 29 Mar 2023
A female wheelchair curler delivers a stone with a stick, while a male athlete holds the wheels of her wheelchair.
Rozkova was the only female skip at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games.
ⒸZhe Ji/Getty Images for International Paralympic Committee

Polina Rozkova was a major force behind the history-making Latvian wheelchair curling team that made their Paralympic debut at Beijing 2022. In March 2023 she made more history for her country, winning the mixed doubles title at the World Wheelchair Curling Championship

Rozkova was introduced to the sport in 2010, a year after injuring her spine in a snowboarding accident.

At first, Rozkova thought the sport would be a nice way to meet people who are using wheelchairs. But soon she also came to appreciate the beauty of the sport itself.

Rozkova was introduced to wheelchair curling in 2010. @Chloe Knott/OIS

Wheelchair curling has been a part of the Paralympic Games programme since Torino 2006. While both men and women play the sport, Rozkova was the only female skip at Beijing 2022. 

“There are a few things that I really like (about the sport),” Rozkova said. “I like to understand the ice. I like it when I’m able to read the ice, when I’m able to read the speed and everything else. 

“I like how today, I can be better than yesterday. Tomorrow, I hope to be better than today,” she added. “Of course, it’s not always like that, but it’s interesting to see (how well I perform).” 

At the 2023 World Wheelchair Curling Championship that took place between 4 and 12 March in Richmond, Canada, Rozkova and Agris Lasmans topped the podium by defeating Pam Wilson and David Samsa of the United States in a close final.

“I was dreaming about this medal. We knew that we could get it. I still don’t believe it because it was so hard to get it,” Rozkova said.

Interested in taking up wheelchair curling and improving your technique like Rozkova? Here are the top five tips to get started in the sport from the history-making world champion.

Latvia won four games in the group stage at Beijing 2022. @Chloe Knott/OIS

1.    Be socially active

You need to be socially active. You should enjoy being with someone else because wheelchair curling is a team sport. It’s not a sport you do alone.

2.    Enjoy the cold

The rink is cold so you will need to enjoy how cold it is.

3.    Be ready for challenges

The ice is changing all the time. What you can do on your ice and what you know really well doesn’t necessarily work on other ice. You need to be ready for times when everything you know doesn’t work at all.

4.    Set a target

You need to have your own target. Without it, it just doesn’t work if you’re going to the rink just to have fun. Curling is not always about fun, and it’s the goal to be able to have fun.

5.    Be flexible

You need to be ready to change your mind about everything. 

When you try curling for the first time, you will think, “OK, I don’t know anything.” Then you start to learn, get a coach, and learn with the coach. Then, one moment, when you get good results, you will think, “OK, now I know better”. And then it will take you many years to understand that, “No, you don’t know better”. The same goes with strategy. You need to be flexible.