By Ethan Diamandas, Dan Plouffe & Charlie Pinkerton (This article was first sent to subscribers of the Ottawa at the Paralympics Daily Newsletter. Sign up to receive it, for free, here.)
Curling takes first loss, keeps first place
It’s been a dominant first few days for Canadian Paralympians who, as of Monday morning, have won 12 medals, including three golds.
Canada’s wheelchair curling team — on which Ottawa’s Collinda Joseph has served as an alternate — looked well on its way to another medal after mopping up the U.S. on Sunday evening 7-3, and team leader (a head coach in Paralympic curling) Wendy Morgan has loved what she’s see so far.
“I thought today’s game vs. the USA was just a master class in execution, and communication, and tactics,” Morgan wrote in a Curling Canada blog Sunday. “It’s always nice to see when it all comes together like that.”
But the rink faced some adversity in its matchup versus Sweden Monday. Coming off a Swedish steal of two points in the fourth end, Canada trailed by a bundle before sneaking back within two.
Swedish skip Viljo Petersson-Dahl crushed Canada’s dreams of an undefeated tournament with a double takeout in the final end, handing Sweden a 6-3 win. Canada is still in first place in the tournament thanks to its 4-1 record.
Comfort is key for curlers
Off the ice, each Paralympian requires a distinct standard of accommodation. To make sure everyone would be comfortable, Morgan polled her athletes before the Games about what their biggest priority is. Their unanimous answer was “beds.”
During a pre-Games visit to Beijing in October 2021, Canada’s wheelchair curling team voiced concerns with the facilities, especially concerning beds, room temperature, and transportation. Since then, the athletes’ village was significantly improved, Morgan said.
“The conditions that we have here – having been to five Paralympic Games – are the best we’ve ever had in terms of comfort and having our own personal space,” said Morgan, who has coached the Paralympic team since 2006.
Food is the second biggest thing, Morgan explained, so the Canadian rink stocked up with its own stuff from home, including a coffee machine and blender for the rooms, plus plenty of peanut butter as a snack.
“The selection here is good, and everybody can find something to eat, but we were ready just in case,” Morgan said.
Lastly, in an attempt to simulate a traditional fan-filled Paralympic experience, Morgan suggested her curlers start a group chat filled with family members and Canadian curling fans.
“It’s fantastic, but it became overwhelming,” she said. “There are more than 100 people on it, and it goes crazy during the games and after.”
Canada’s loss to Sweden was a bummer, but apart from that one game, fans back home have had plenty to cheer about.
Marcoux-Rodgers duo out of Games due to injury
Visually impaired skier Mac Marcoux, along with his guide — Tristan Rodgers from Ottawa — have wrapped up their competitions earlier than planned.
Marcoux, who is from the Sault Ste. Marie area, had a good run halfway down the super-G course before losing an edge and sliding outside the gate. The 24-year-old stayed down with what was later confirmed as a lower body injury, which will prevent him from competing in any upcoming events in Beijing.
“It’s super unfortunate how the Super-G went down,” Marcoux said in a statement. “Crashing is one thing, but to be laid up again for the next little while is upsetting. It’s not the best case, but that’s all a part of ski racing. I’ll be excited to get after it and come back stronger.”
Josh Dueck, Canada’s 2022 Paralympic Team chef-de-mission, called Marcoux a “true champion.”
“It was an absolute thrill to see Mac and Tristan race the downhill on Day 1 and put down such a phenomenal run, and I look forward to watching them do the same in the future,” he said.
Despite the early finish, it was still a successful Games for Marcoux, who battled through a back injury before traveling to Beijing and claimed silver in men’s downhill on Day 1.
Day 4 Preview: Para ice hockey back in action
As we noted in our last newsletter, Canada’s para ice hockey team has been no stranger to delays these last two years. After skipping over its matchup with the Russian Paralympic Committee — which is now banned from the Paralympics due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — Canada now faces Korea, a familiar foe.
Canada hosted Korea to a four-game exhibition series in Bridgewater, N.S. in November 2021, where the hosts pummeled the visitors in every game. Canada outscored Korea 31-1 in the series, with Ottawa’s Rob Armstrong netting four goals, and Anton Jacobs-Webb, from Gatineau, adding a goal and six assists.
“This was our best game so far and I just liked the way the guys played unselfishly,’’ Canada’s head coach Ken Babey said after the November tournament. ‘’They were looking for each other on plays and not trying to do it individually.”
Unselfish play will be the key for Canada if it wants to avenge the lopsided loss to the Americans from earlier. In para ice hockey, like traditional hockey, it’s essential for a team to have its top lines clicking.
Linemates Jacobs-Webb and veteran Ben Delaney, who’s also from the Ottawa area, should be synced up once again come puck drop.
“We complement each other, and it’s fun playing with him,” winger Delaney said of his centre, Jacobs-Webb. “If you like playing with the guy, you’re going to play better if you really are close with the dude, and we have good chemistry.”
Delaney, Jacobs-Webb, and Tyrone Henry — all members of Ottawa’s Sledge Hockey of Eastern Ontario organization — said the roster was meshing well in pre-Games action in Calgary.
“[The chemistry is] showing now, and it’ll show in the Games for sure,” Delaney told the Sports Pages before leaving for Beijing.
The energy wasn’t there against the U.S., but Canada gets a second chance to find its rhythm Tuesday at 12:05 a.m. eastern.
Curling, alpine skiing continue
With Marcoux and Rodgers out of competition, the Ottawa area’s hope for another medal in alpine skiing falls to Brian Rowland (sit-skiing) and Alexis Guimond (standing skiing). The super-G portion begins at 9 p.m. eastern, and the slalom starts at 1:15 a.m. eastern.
Joseph and Canada’s wheelchair curling team continue the back half of the round robin portion, first with a matchup against Korea Monday at 8:35 p.m. eastern, then Slovakia Tuesday at 6:35 a.m. eastern.
This article was first sent to subscribers of the Ottawa at the Paralympics Daily Newsletter. Sign up to receive it, for free, here.
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