Some of the top wheelchair curlers in the country will be coming to Moose Jaw for the 2024 National Wheelchair Curling Championships from March 24 to 30.
This is the second year in a row that Moose Jaw will be hosting the event. Last year, the Moose Jaw rink of skip Gil Dash, third Marie Wright, second Darwin Bender, lead Moose Gibson and coach Lorraine Arguin representing Saskatchewan won the national title.
This year will see 11 teams from New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Northern Ontario, Ontario, two teams from Saskatchewan, two teams from Alberta and a team from B.C. For the first time in a couple of years, Manitoba has indicated that they will be fielding a team. If Manitoba doesn’t pan out, Ontario will be given a second team to round out the field.
The teams will play a 10-game round-robin with 11 draws and two draws per day.
“It’s a high level. Northern Ontario is always a tough team. Teams out of Alberta and Ontario always seem to be in the mix,” said Gibson, who is the chair of the organizing committee.
The tournament will feature several national team curlers including Dash and Wright.
The defending champs will be returning to represent Saskatchewan with a slight change to the lineup. Bender has stepped away, so Gibson is moving to the second position.
SaskCurl and the wheelchair curling staff of Arguin and Lloyd Thiele have identified four new curlers, two from Regina and two from Saskatoon. One of those curlers will join the Dash rink, while two more will join Rod and Cheryl Pederson to make up the second Saskatchewan team. The fourth new curler will be used as an alternate.
As for fan turnout, Gibson said the event last year was very successful and helped give the sport of wheelchair curling more exposure.
He said when the event was held in Quebec in 2019, there were maybe 10 fans that came out to watch. Forward to 2023, and the lounge at the Moose Jaw Curling Centre was packed.
“Last year, we had upwards of 120-130 people at times in the lounge watching some of the top wheelchair curling around. It was phenomenal and that was the whole goal was to bring the event to Moose Jaw to expose it to not only the city but southern Saskatchewan,” said Gibson.
Tickets for the event are on sale now for $80 for the week, $25 for a day pass and $15 for a single draw. Tickets are available at the Moose Jaw Events Centre box office and sasktix.ca.