Alumnus leads Canada to curling bronze

Editor’s note: When Canada’s wheelchair curling team won Paralympic gold on home soil in 2010, Mark Ideson had never thrown a rock – let alone competed in the sport. Yet eight years later, the 41-year-old will skip that team into the 2018 Paralympic Games this March in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Read the Alumni Gazette story.

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Canada continued their record of medalling in every Paralympic Winter Games wheelchair curling competition when they defeated Korea 5-3 to win the bronze medals Saturday in the Gangneung Curling Centre.

“I did shed a tear because my family is here, my kids, my wife, my parents,” said Western alumnus Mark Ideson, BSc’99 (Environmental Science), who skipped the Canadian squad. “In 2007, after my accident (helicopter crash), I couldn’t imagine me in this position. I was a broken person and we were navigating new waters. Without the support of my wife and my family I wouldn’t have made it here.

“After a life-changing accident it puts a new perspective on life. No matter the results this week I know my kids are still going to love me, my wife is still going to love me and the sun is going to come up tomorrow. I was emotional; I am emotional. We had a goal. We know we have a target on our back and today we played for Canada.”

Korea began the game with the last stone advantage but were unable to make it count with Canada stealing two points in the first end.

Canada – skipped Ideson, with third Ina Forrest, second Dennis Thiessen, lead Marie Wright with support from alternate Jamie Anseeuw and coach Wayne Kiel – maintained the pressure on Korea in the second end, and sat two shot stones when Korean fourth player, Jae Goan Cha was set to throw his final stone of the end.

With that stone, Cha played a stunning runback triple takeout to remove both Canadian counters from the house, ultimately blanking the end.

In the third end, Korea sat one stone in scoring position when Cha attempted a difficult hit-and-roll on a wide guard for two. He was a fraction off target on the hit attempt, and only scored the one point.

Canada had the chance to score three points in the fourth end, Ideson came up short with his draw attempt, scoring two points and taking a 4-1 lead into the fourth end break.

In the fifth end, Korea once again sat shot stone, and Cha attempted a tough hit-and-roll to score two points. His hit was once again a fraction wide, rolling his shooter out to the 12-foot and only scoring one point.

The sixth end saw the roles reversed, with Canada sitting one point and Ideson attempting a tough hit-and-roll for two. Just like Cha before him, he was a touch wide with his hit and only scored the single point from the end.

In the seventh end, Cha had a draw for two points to narrow the score but came up short, only scoring the single point. Then, in the eighth end, with Canada holding last stone advantage, Korea’s Cha attempted to promote a Korean guard into scoring position to sit two counters, but was off-target with the attempt. This meant Canada’s Ideson’s last shot was unnecessary, as Korea conceded, giving Canada the 5-3 win, and the Paralympic bronze medals.

On Friday, gold medal winner China defeated Canada by a score of 4-3 in the semi-finals.

“We played our hearts out yesterday (Friday) and the result didn’t go our way so we picked each other up and played for each other and played for Canada,” Ideson said. “We had some laughs, kept it light, ate together, hit the hay early. What an opportunity to represent your country and ultimately it doesn’t matter the colour of the medal, it is the flag on your back that matters.

“It is great to come out with W (win) despite the way I was playing out there. Marie (Wright), Ina (Forrest) and Dennis (Thiessen) are world class. I don’t know what Ina shot but she shot the lights out. I think she is the best in the world.”