Canada wins Paralympic gold in wheelchair curling to complete historic trifecta
Saturday, Mar 15, 2014 11:45 am
SOCHI, Russia - Canada has a historic curling trifecta in Sochi.
Jim Armstrong's rink showed its class and experience on the sometimes tricky playing surface at the Ice Cube Curling Centre on Saturday to defeat Russia 8-3 and win the gold medal at the Paralympic Winter Games.
The victory comes on the heels of Canada's podium-topping performances in both men's and women's curling at last month's Olympics and marks the first time a country has won all three tournaments in the same year.
Meanwhile, Britain defeated China 7-3 to win the bronze.
Canada has dominated wheelchair curling since the sport made its Paralympic debut eight years ago, winning gold at both the 2006 and 2010 Games to go along with triumphs in the 2009, 2011 and 2013 world championships.
Up 5-2 in the sixth end, Canada capitalized on one of a number of miscues by Russia to grab a commanding lead.
Russian skip Andrey Smirnov missed an attempted takeout with the hammer, allowing Canada to steal three and hand the two-time defending gold medallists a commanding 8-2 lead.
Russia got one back in the seventh end to make it 8-3, but decided to shake hands midway through the eighth to seal a Canadian victory that was really never in doubt.
Fans of both countries saluted the players with raucous applause at the end of the match as the Canadians hugged and congratulated each other.
Warm weather throughout the tournament in the city on the shores of the Black Sea wreaked havoc with the ice at times, but Canada managed to navigate the sometimes-volatile conditions to cruise to the Paralypmic title.
The Canadian rink of Armstrong, Ina Forrest, Sonja Gaudet, Dennis Thiessen and alternate Mark Ideson found themselves down early after Russia scored two in the first end in front of a boisterous and partisan gathering.
Canada, which downed China 5-4 in a tight semifinal earlier in day, got one back in the second before stealing another in the third to knot the score 2-2.
The Russians, who thumped Britain 13-4 in seven ends in the other semifinal, fell behind 4-2 in the fourth when Smirnov's couldn't clear the house and Canada scored two more.
An error by Armstrong in the fifth end opened the door for the Russians but Smirnov couldn't capitalize as Canada stole another point to take a 5-2 advantage.
Canada, which defeated the hosts 5-4 during round-robin play, was supported by a small gathering of fans scattered amongst the noisy and flag-waving Russian contingent.
The gold medal is Gaudet's third, Armstrong and Forrest won their second, and Thiessen and Ideson picked up their first.