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Women make their mark in curling competition

China Daily | Updated: 2022-03-10 09:35
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Ina Forrest of Canada in action during the Wheelchair Curling Round Robin Match between Canada and Sweden of Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games at National Aquatics Center in Beijing, capital of China on March 7, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

Canada is the most successful team in wheelchair curling, having won a medal at every edition of the Paralympic Winter Games since Turin 2006-three of them gold.

For three of those four podium finishes, one woman has been a constant figure: Ina Forrest.

The vice-skip, who turns 60 in two months, is the most experienced player on the Canadian side, and over the years has become an indispensable force for the team.

On Tuesday-International Women's Day-her teammates paid tribute to the unique qualities she brings to the ice.

"Ina is so experienced, and she brings such a calming professionalism. She's a total gamer," Canadian skip Mark Ideson said. "She always shows up, she always plays hard, plays her best. You can't help but feed off that positivity."

Team Canada's Jon Thurston described her as a difference maker on the ice.

"Ina makes some amazing shots to switch some ends," he said. "She's a big-game player, and it's a pleasure to play with her."

Canada is in contention to reclaim the gold it last won at Sochi 2014. By Tuesday night, it was ranked third in the standings behind leader Sweden and second-placed China.

Wheelchair curling at the Paralympic Winter Games is a mixed-gender competition, and there must be at least one man and one woman on every team.

Men make up the majority, and tend to play positions that allow them to throw later in each end, given there is often a need to throw heavier stones. However, the sport has grown and developed over the years for women, too.

At Turin 2006, when wheelchair curling was first contested, there were just 11 women (27.5 percent) in the 40-person field. That percentage swelled to 38 percent at Sochi 2014, and has not dropped below 30 percent since then.

At Beijing 2022, there are 18 women out of 55 athletes (32.7 percent), and female stars such as Latvia's Polina Rozkova and the Republic of Korea's Baek Hye-jin have skipped their teams.

For Britain, Meggan Dawson-Farrell has brought some athleticism to the team, given her background as a wheelchair racer who competed at the Commonwealth Games.

"She brings a different perspective from another sport, a different viewpoint," British skip Hugh Nibloe said. "She learned things in her wheelchair racing career. We are doing cardiovascular stuff and working in the gym. Meggan's brought things like that through, and helped our output."

Gender is not a factor when it comes to performance on the ice, according to Canada's Ideson.

"All the women playing right now are the best in the world," he said. "Gender doesn't necessarily matter on the ice. The women are out there kicking butt, which is awesome."


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