The latest country to take part in the 13th annual Canadian Open wheelchair bonspiel nearly swept the podium.
Team China #1 defeated Quebec to capture the five-day event which recently wrapped up at the Richmond Curling Club. China #2 also took bronze by getting past Manitoba.
International flavour is nothing new to the Canadian Open thanks to the terrific work of the Richmond Centre of Disability and the organizing committee that runs the bonspiel.
“This is the first time Team China has joined us but before we have had Team Russia, Team Switzerland and Team Norway,” explained Ella Huang, executive director for the Richmond Centre of Disability. “Korea is here with three teams and they have been big supporter of the event for several years.”
The 16 rink tournament was at capacity with three entries from Korea including its national team. Ontario, three from Alberta and the remainder from B.C. rounded out the participants.
The Canadian Open typically lines up with other significant wheelchair bonspiels in North America to make it attractive for international teams to come overseas.
“A lot these teams are coming a long ways and paying their own way here. We always coordinate with other bonspiels so they can attend more than one. The next one is in Ottawa then in Utica (New York),” continued Huang.
Planning for the 2020 event will begin as soon as January. The Richmond Curling Club has been a big supporter — accommodating morning and afternoon draws that allows out-of-town players to do plenty of sightseeing.
“ Our organizing committee and is made up of six members and all wheelchair curlers and officials. We are very fortunate to have experience people bringing their wealth of knowledge to make this happen,” added Huang.
“There is a lot of preparation work that goes into this. We have close to 100 wheelchair athletes so we need to find accessible hotel rooms. Basically we have (all of them) in the city booked up in advance.”
Volunteers are also a key component throughout the week. Each game is assigned two volunteers to clean rocks and line them up.