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Wheelchair curling newcomers Ehsani, Hess gearing up to take ice at nationals

Regina duo to play for Saskatchewan 2 at Canadian Wheelchair Curling Nationals beginning Mar. 24 at the Moose Jaw Curling Centre

Team Saskatchewan wheelchair curling team member Zahra Ehsani hasn’t been around the sport for very long, but that hasn’t kept her from quickly developing into a provincial-team calibre player in a short amount of time.

A native of Iran, Ehsani didn’t grow up watching curling like so many Canadians, but once she started picking up the sport, it didn’t take long to fall in love with it.

And when the chance came to give it a shot as a member of Team Sask, ‘why not’ turned into her current position throwing lead stones on Sask 2 when the Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship begins on Mar. 24 at the Moose Jaw Curling Centre.

“It’s really cool and I’m so excited for this,” Ehsani said during a recent practice session. “I just started wheelchair curling and to join this team is so amazing. They were looking for people to join the team and I came out and tried out and it’s so much fun.”

Ehsani is involved in a host of activities in her hometown of Regina, including serving as the chair of the Terry Fox Run in the community. Getting involved in wheelchair curling wasn’t too much of a stretch given her lifestyle, even if it’s a completely different game than she’s used to.

“It’s a really challenging sport, it challenges your brain, it challenges your body and it’s a lot of fun,” Ehsani said,

The situation couldn’t be much different for fellow Team Sask newcomer Tara-Lee Hess. A lifelong athlete and fan of curling, Hess -- who works in the financial department at the University of Regina -- was looking for an activity to take part in when a suggestion by her physiotherapist led to the rink.

“I really love sports and haven’t been able to play because of complications with my leg and not being able to wear my prosthetic, so it was one of the only things I could do that was safe,” she explained, “I figured I’d just try it out and I loved it right away, I kept coming out and kept coming out and I’m just so excited to be able to do something incredible like this.”

Hess -- the alternate for Sask 2 -- and Ehsani have both benefitted from learning the game from some of the best teachers in the country, quite literally.

That includes Team Canada member Gil Dash, who most recently won silver at the World Championships, along with Paralympic bronze medalist and longtime veteran of the sport Marie Wright. Combine their experience with fellow defending national gold medalist Moose Gibson, Sask 2 veterans Rod and Sheryl Pederson and coach Lorraine Arguin, and you can get a good idea of how Ehsani and Hess became so good, so quickly.

“Right!?”Hess exclaimed. “It’s awesome to have them teaching you, they’re so generous with their time and instruction and I couldn’t ask for better players to learn from.”

Ehsani was of the same opinion.

“They have one of the best teams here that won the gold last year, and to have a chance to practice with them is amazing because you can learn lots from them,” she said. “We’re trying to do our best, we’re new, but we’re trying to improve and get better.”

Saskatchewan 2 is skipped Rod Pederson along with fellow newcomers Pete Andrews at third and Mark Kennedy at second, both of whom hail from Saskatoon. They open nationals on Sunday, Mar. 24 against Saskatchewan 1, who feature skip Dash, third Wright, second Gibson and lead Sheryl Pederson.

“I’m just super excited to be part of it, hopefully I don’t let the team down and I do my best, and just enjoy it the whole time,” Hess said. “ It’s just amazing.”

And even as newcomers to the sport, the goal remains the same.

“Of course we’re going for gold, so we’ll do our best and try and get it and hopefully we’ll have a good shot at it,” Ehsani said. 

You can follow along with all the news and scores throughout the tournament on www.moosejawtoday,com and at

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