Wheelchair curling champs test Sochi's readiness to be Paralympic host city
Canada's Bruno Yizek, left to right, Sonja Gaudet, Ina Forrest, Darryl Neighbour and Jim Armstrong leave the ice after winning the gold medal for wheelchair curling after defeating South Korea at the 2010 Winter Paralympics in this March 2010 file photo. (Darryl Dyck/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Monday, February 18, 2013 9:11AM EST
Sochi's credentials as host city of the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games were tested on Saturday with the staging of the wheelchair curling world championships.
"This event is the first tournament to be held in the new 'Ice Cube' curling center, specially built for the Olympic and Paralympic Games which will be held here in Sochi in 2014," the head of world curling federation Kate Caithness said.
"The tournament is a fantastic opportunity to test the world class curling venue ahead of the Games... and I'm sure next year's Games here in Sochi will be a catalyst for the further development of this discipline."
Athletes from Canada, China, Korea, Norway, Russia, Slovakia, USA, Finland, Sweden and Scotland are competing in the southern Russian resort.
The championships are the third and final opportunity for the world's top wheelchair curling teams to qualify for the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
Russia, who won gold at the 2012 wheelchair world championships in Chuncheon, South Korea will be trying to defend their title on their home ice.
"Our main goal is to defend our title," Russian coach Anton Batugin said.
"But it's really hard to predict the results in curling as any team can perform excellent results."
"We are really touched by everybody's support which we feel here in Sochi. We have never experienced anything like this as Russia had never staged any competitions of such a high level."
The wheelchair curling world championships finish next Saturday.