Prior to starting wheelchair curling at the age of 42, Ina Forrest had only touched a granite stone two other times in her life.
Now in her third Paralympics, Forrest and the team are once again heading into the medal round. She’s won gold at the past two Paralympics for Canada.
“I could have never imagined this for my life,” Forrest said.
Forrest was extremely active while growing up in Fort St. John, B.C. She loved sports and imagined playing them throughout her entire life.
That all changed when Forrest was 21 years old; she was hit by a drunk driver and was paralyzed. For the next 21 years, Forrest didn’t even consider sports. She had university, kids and a life to focus on.
That all changed during a trip to get groceries.
“I was at Costco and my friend said ‘hey, let’s go try wheelchair curling,'” Forrest said. “That’s how it started.”
Thirteen years later, Forrest is a two-time Paralympic champion, has competed at the last nine world wheelchair curling championships and was inducted into Canadian Curling Hall of Fame in February of 2016.
CBC Sports’ Josh Dueck spoke with Canada’s vice skip Ina Forrest, after the rink qualified for the wheelchair curling semifinals in second place.1:29
Now she’s alongside Marie Wright, Dennis Thiessen, Mark Ideson and alternate James Anseeuw in their bid to win a fourth consecutive gold medal for Canada. The team plays China on Friday at 2:35 a.m. ET in the semifinals, while South Korea takes on Norway in the other matchup.
“Four years ago I kind of went ‘do I want to do it again?’ You have to commit to it if you’re going to do it in my opinion,” Forrest said.
“[The] Paralympics is just such an amazing event. Once you’re here it’s like, yeah, this is what you play for.”
Wright was right
Wright, from Moose Jaw, Sask., is making her first appearance at the Paralympics. The 57-year-old paraplegic single mother of four daughters has caught the attention of fans, players and people across Canada with her bright smile and positive attitude.
She’s basking in this experience.
“It feels so good. I’m so excited,” Wright said.
At the beginning of the event the team made a fun bet about what their record in the round robin would be.
Wright was exactly right.
Mark Ideson’s Canadian rink beat Finland 8-4, to finish the wheelchair curling round robin in second place at 9-2. They next play China in the semifinals.0:48
“Before we left home we all made a bet on how we were going to finish in the standings and everyone said 7-4 and I said 9-2 and I’m so excited,” she said, adding that it was the optimist in her that picked that record.
Wright likes to think the key to her success is keeping things light during the games and enjoying the moment.
“I just love the game. As long as you’re hanging fun, you feel the ice and it helps your game,” she said.
Skip Ideson learning fast
Ideson is really starting to find his groove at the Games.
His shot in the fifth end against the United States, a through-the-port jaw-dropping takeout, is still being talked about. Ever since that game, Ideson has been getting better and better. And his confidence is building.
In what might be the shot of the Paralympics, Canadian skip Mark Ideson just barely snuck his rock past a guard to make the takeout. It led to a steal that evened their match against the USA.1:07
“We’re 11 games in now and we have the feel for the ice,” he said. “The only thing I can’t seem to get down is that first end and off to a quick start. I have to polish that up for the next game.”
He only started playing wheelchair curling eight years ago. Four years after he threw his first rock from a wheelchair, Ideson won gold as lead with Canada’s team at the 2014 Sochi Paralympics.
Now he’s the skip and is working hard at perfecting his game.
“I’m still learning out there. Every end. I don’t know if you can play this game long enough to know everything,” he said.
Ideson is patient; he waits for other teams to make mistakes and then capitalizes. The team has had four comeback wins throughout the tournament. “The Comeback Kids” has become the rink’s nickname.
“That’s the character of this team. We just have to stay patient,” Ideson said.
His family is in the crowd watching and cheering all of the shots and he knows there are a lot more back home supporting the team.
“We hear Canada loud and clear cheering for us. We love the support,” Ideson said. “We still just have to take it one rock at a time now.”
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