Gangneung, Republic of Korea – Mixed Wheelchair teams representing ten Member Associations from across the globe will come together in the Republic of Korea on Saturday (4 March), as the World Wheelchair Curling Championship 2017 (WWhCC) gets underway.
This Paralympic Winter Games 2018 test event will be held in the Gangneung Curling Centre, in Gangneung, Korea from 4 to 11 March.
From the ten teams competing, seven qualified from their performance in last year’s World Wheelchair Curling Championship 2016 in Lucerne, Switzerland. A further two teams qualified from the World Wheelchair-B Curling Championship 2016 held in Lohja, Finland, and hosts Korea complete the line-up.
The ten teams taking part are: Canada, China, Finland, Germany, hosts Korea, Norway, returning champions Russia, Scotland, Switzerland and USA.
Of these teams, Finland and Scotland qualified from the World Wheelchair-B event.
As well as being a World Curling Championship event, this competition acts as a Paralympic test event because the Gangneung Curling Centre is the Olympic and Paralympic venue next year. The VoIP Defender World Junior Curling Championships 2017 – the first of the two test events – was successfully completed on Sunday (26 February).
The curling centre is at the heart of the Gangneung cluster for the 2018 PyeongChang Games – where all the ice sports will be held. It is also the only venue in that cluster to have existed prior to PyeongChang winning its bid. It was opened in 1998, has a seating capacity of 3,500, and has undergone renovations ahead of the Games. Previously, it was named the Gangneung Indoor Ice Rink and was the venue for the World Women’s Curling Championship 2009 as well as other international ice-based competitions.
Returning champions Russia, skipped once again by 2014 Paralympic Winter Games silver medallist and three-time World Wheelchair Curling Championship gold medallist, Andrey Smirnov, will be aiming to win their third World Wheelchair Curling Championship in a row after taking gold in both the 2015 and 2016 championships.
Canada, skipped by two-time Paralympic Winter Games gold medallist and three-time World Wheelchair Curling Championship gold medallist, Jim Armstrong, will be looking to improve on their seventh place finish in last year’s competition.
Scotland, skipped by 2014 Paralympic Winter Games bronze medallist, Aileen Neilson, return to the World Wheelchair Curling Championship after missing last year’s event by qualifying through the World Wheelchair-B event.
Hosts Korea are skipped by Jong-Pan Kim, who played third in Korea’s 2014 Paralympic Winter Games team, and are completed by third Soon-Seok Seo, second Jae-Goan Cha, lead Min Kyong Cho and alternate Dong Ha Lee.
There will be 12 sessions of round-robin play, beginning on Saturday 4 March at 09.30 and running until 15.00, on Thursday 9 March. Tie-breakers will be played on Friday 10 March at 10.00 if required.
After this, curling's Page play-off system will be used, in which the top two ranked teams face each other, with the winner of that game going direct to the gold medal final, and the loser being given a second chance by playing a semi-final against the winner of the play-off between the teams ranked third and fourth.
The winner of that sole semi-final goes on to the final to play for gold and silver medals, and the loser faces the Page 3v4 loser for bronze medals. The medal games will take place on Saturday 11 March at 15:00. The times are Korea Standard Time, nine hours ahead of Universal Coordinated Time.
Preceding the championship on Saturday (4 March) will be a Paralympic Anniversary Ceremony that will feature amongst the dignitaries, Hee Beom Lee, the President of PyeongChang Organising Committee Olympic Games (POCOG), Myeong Hui Choi, the Mayor of Gangneung City and World Curling Federation President, Kate Caithness.
Lastly, a Sportsmanship Award is presented at the closing ceremony to an athlete selected by their peers as those ‘who exemplify the traditional values of skill, honesty, fair play, sportsmanship and friendship in the world of curling.’