World Champion Wheelchair Curlers Competing In Kelowna
The best wheelchair curlers in the world are coming to Kelowna to compete against a Canadian Paralympics team and 5 teams from around BC on March 19-20 at the Kelowna Curling Club. The Okanagan International Wheelchair Cashspiel is a significant milestone for the sport as it represents the first time that wheelchair curlers will play for prize money.
Wheelchair curling is growing fast and Canada has embraced the sport with the same enthusiastic commitment to excellence seen from its able-bodied curlers. Wheelchair curling makes its medal debut at the 2006 Winter Paralympics in Torino, Italy.
“We’re thrilled to have the world champions from Scotland coming to this first ever wheelchair cashspiel,” says Eric Eales, president of the Okanagan Wheelchair Curling Association. “Players from Great Britain, including the Scottish repeat world champions, will be challenging for $2,500.00 in cash prizes.“
Two local wheelchair athletes, Gerry Austgarden of Kelowna and Sonja Gaudet from Vernon, are members of Team Canada and will represent our country in Torino, Italy next year.
“We originally planned a local cashspiel but it quickly turned into a major event,” Austgarden explained. “I think it’s a combination of wanting as much competition as possible leading up to the Paralympics next year, Kelowna’s appeal as a terrific city to visit, and of course, the prize money”.
Event organizers are very impressed with the support behind the cashspiel. ACT/UCT Kelowna, and OK Tire have been long-time sponsors of the sport. They have joined with BMO Nesbitt Burns and Sport Kelowna to make this event possible.
For more information contact the Okanagan Wheelchair Curling Association at 764-2098 or their website at www.wheelchaircurling.com.
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