Ideson Eyes Gold At Winter Paralympic Games







by Jeffrey Reed, Editor,

Every elite athlete shares one common trait: incredible focus. When you look into the eyes of Londoner Mark Ideson, who skips Team Canada at the Winter Paralympic Games March 8-18 at Pyeongchang, South Korea, it’s evident he is thinking of one thing: victory.

After all, sports has always been a big part of Ideson’s life. As a kid growing up in Parry Sound, he played baseball, hockey and golf – the latter his passion later in life, when he even competed for a spot at the World Long Drive Championships.

Mark Ideson at 2017 World Wheelchair Curling Championships. Photo: Canadian Paralympic Committee.

Ideson’s journey into wheelchair sports began in 2007 when a helicopter he was piloting crashed into a field near Cambridge, leaving him with multiple fractures in his legs, pelvis, sternum, ribs, nose and neck, resulting in spinal cord injury and quadriplegia.

“After I left Parkwood Hospital, I was playing wheelchair rugby,” Ideson explained. “Some friends asked if I would be interested in wheelchair curling, but I was hesitant. I didn’t know if I could get the rock down the length of the ice.”

But the 2010 Paralympic Games held in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C. “inspired me,” Ideson said. In 2012, he was a member of the first-place team at the Ontario championships, and third-place team at the Canadian championships. In 2013, he was a member of Team Canada who claimed gold at the World Wheelchair Curling Championships in Sochi, Russia.

“The sport has really given me a purpose since my spinal cord injury. It’s a good way to fulfill that competitive spirit I used to have,” Ideson said.

Ideson, 41, was the lead of the gold medal-winning team at the Sochi Paralympic Games in 2014. At Pyeongchang, he’s joined by two-time gold medallist Ina Forrest of Armstrong, B.C. who will reprise her role as vice-skip, while Dennis Thiessen of Sanford, Man. returns as second. Lead Marie Wright of Moose Jaw, Sask., who represented Canada at the 2017 World Championship in Pyeongchang, fills out the roster and returns to South Korea. Alternate James Anseeuw of Oak Bluff, Man. will wear the Maple Leaf for the first time in international play.

Thiessen, Wright and Anseeuw are all two-time Canadian wheelchair curling champions; Thiessen and Anseeuw were teammates representing Manitoba in 2014 and 2017, while Wright was part of Saskatchewan’s gold medal teams in 2012 and 2016. Wayne Kiel of Balgonie, Sask. will act as team coach in his first Paralympics. He was an assistant coach of the victorious Canadian team in Sochi.

The Canadian team nominated to the Winter Paralympic Games is rounded out by physiotherapist Sari Shatil of London, whose husband, Alon, is a partner and general manager of East Park; team leader Wendy Morgan of Burlington; team physician Dr. Steven Dilkas of Toronto; media attaché Brian Chick of Toronto; and performance consultant Kyle Paquette of Gatineau, Que. Morgan has been the wheelchair curling team leader at all three previous Paralympic Winter Games.

Wheelchair curling made its Paralympic debut at the 2006 Torino games, and Canada has claimed gold at each of the three games since. In 2006 at Torino, Italy, it was Chris Daw skipping Canada to the gold medal, while in 2010 at Vancouver and four years ago in Sochi, it was Jim Armstrong skipping the Canadian team.

Canada has had a tough time in recent years, finishing sixth, seventh and fifth from 2015-2017 at the World Championships. And with Team Canada not winning gold at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, Ideson said there is added pressure put on his squad to bring home the gold.

“Absolutely, we feel the pressure. But we also feel like we’ve had a good year of preparation,” Ideson said. “We’re playing really well right now, and we have a good mix of experienced players and rookies. So we all lean on each other for support.”

Photo: Canadian Paralympic Committee

Ideson also speaks highly of physiotherapist Shatil, and of mental coach Paquette who has preached “mindfulness, so we can stay in the moment. We’d really like to get back on the podium,” Ideson said, “and we’re going to do everything we can to get there.”

Ideson’s meteoric rise to skip surprises even him. When he entered the sport, he coveted the role, and said he has worked tirelessly to improve over the past five years. But he admitted, “To be honest I really didn’t think I’d be skip at these Games. I thought I’d be in line for 2022, or at least be in the conversation.”

When he started wheelchair curling, Ideson recognized that most competitors had full use of their upper body and core muscles, which put him at a “serious disadvantage.

“But I do a lot of gym training. And I’ve modified my equipment, to figure out the best way for me to get the rock down the ice, for my game,” he said. “Everyone is different. And because I don’t have full of use my hands or triceps, or my chest muscles, I had to make up for it with those equipment modifications.”

Ten wheelchair curling teams will play a round robin, after which the top four will play in the medal round at Pyeongchang.

“The qualifying standards to make the Canadian Paralympic Curling Team are extremely rigorous, as they should be, because this country has high expectations of its curlers, and I know this team will work extremely hard between now and the Winter Paralympics in order to meet those expectations,” said the Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, when the team was named in early-December.

Ideson said, “The sport is growing, and teams across the world are getting better, but that doesn’t mean we’re getting worse, that’s for sure. Equipment is also getting better, and so are the ice conditions. It’s been fun to be a part of all that.”

Ideson’s wife, Lara, and their children, daughter Brooklyn, 12, and son Myles, 9, plus his parents, Terry and Judy, are all making the trek to South Korea.

The entire family and all of Canada hope that a gold medal makes the return flight with them.


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A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and

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