Wheelchair curling is a game that marries strategic thinking and physical skill. Everything depends on choosing – and executing – the right throw at each point in the game.
PLAYING THE GAME
Players slide a granite stone or rock on a sheet of ice 150 ft long and 15 ft. wide, aiming for the “house” or target – or looking to knock the opponent’s rock away.
Athletes throw the stones by hand from a stationary wheelchair or push them using a delivery stick. No sweepers are allowed, so the throw is critical. The closer the stone stops to the center of the target, the higher the score.
A game consists of eight playing periods, called “ends,” with an extra end played if the teams are tied.
AN ANCIENT AND NEW SPORT
Wheelchair curling is a new version of an ancient game: while curling dates back to medieval times, wheelchair curling only started in the late 1990’s. Sochi will be the third Paralympics to include the sport.
Rock or Stone – thick stone disc, weighing between 38 and 44 pounds, with a handle on
top. Made of granite from Alisa Craig, an island off Scotland, each stone costs
Sheet – the playing area on the ice
Hog line, back line – the boundaries of the playing area where the stones must land
Weight of the Stone – speed the stone is moving
Turn, handle, or curl – rotation of the stone, which gives it a curved trajectory
House – the target area
Skip – captain of the team, the person who calls the shots
WHO CAN PLAY
Paralympic wheelchair curling competition is open to male and female athletes, and rules require teams to include both. An athlete must have significant impairment in his/her lower legs or walking ability due to conditions like amputation, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, or brain injury, and must generally use a wheelchair in daily life.
MEET THE ATHLETES
The 2014 team is skipped by 2010 Paralympian Patrick McDonald (Madison, Wis.), and includes David Palmer (Mashpee, Mass.), Jimmy Joseph (New Hartford, N.Y.), Penny Greely (Green Bay, Wis.), and Meghan Lino (East Falmouth, Mass.)