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Wright set to begin quest for gold at Worlds

Moose Jaw wheelchair curler set to represent Canada for third time at international event
When it comes to wheelchair curling, it would be easy to say that Moose Jaw’s Marie Wright has pretty much done it all.

But there’s one thing that’s eluded her and her teammates on the international stage -- a gold medal. Wright and Team Canada have been close, finishing fifth at Worlds in 2017 and winning bronze at the 2018 Paralympic Games, but claiming the ultimate prize has proven difficult.

So when Wright and teammates Mark Ideson, third Collinda Joseph and second Jon Thurston taking the ice in Stirling, Scotland beginning Mar. 3, the goal will be as straightforward as possible.

Winning, winning and more winning, culminating in a gold medal.

“That’s what we’re going for, it’s been long enough and it’s time,” Wright said Monday on the eve of leaving for the championship. “We’ve had a lot of practice and preparation and we’re ready to go, so hopefully things turn out as well as we hope.”

Wright was named to Team Canada in January after a long try-out process throughout the fall and into the new year. The time since then has been spent practicing as much as possible in addition to playing a series of exhibition games against the United States wheelchair curling team and other high-level competitors from Canada.

The results from those games were plenty positive, as Canada went 2-2 against the U.S. during an exhibition series in Winnipeg, despite going through a feeling-out process with two new members of the team in Thurston and Joseph. Against their Canadian compatriots, Team Canada posted a winning record in a series of games at the Moose Jaw Ford Curling Centre.

“It’s been really good and I think we’ve really gelled as a team and we’re really prepared,” Wright said.

As one of the most experienced members of the rink, it might seem strange that Wright would be playing lead – but in wheelchair curling, that position is even more important than in the able-bodied game, especially with the newly implemented five-rock rule.

“It’s so important to have the ends set up well that having someone with experience starting off the end can make a big difference,” Wright said. “You really don’t want to be leaving your skip a lot of rocks to face with his shots.”

Canada opens the 12-team tournament against Latvia and Korea on Mar. 3 before taking on Norway in their lone game on Mar. 4 – a game Wright is looking forward to for somewhat different reasons.

“I’m bringing some moose figures along to give to them and they’re going to have ‘Mac’ written on them,” she said with a laugh, referring to the ongoing war between Moose Jaw and Norway over the largest moose statues.

Assuming a battle doesn'’t break out, Canada continues their tournament Mar. 5 against Switzerland and China, Mar. 6 against Slovakia and Russia, Mar. 7 against Germany and the U.S. before closing out the round robin against Estonia and Scotland on Mar. 8. The top six teams advance to the playoffs on Mar. 9, with the medal games on Mar. 10.

Wright will once again be accompanied by family members to the event, with the added bonus of her family origins being from Scotland. To that end, she plans to do plenty of sightseeing, including a visit to an ancient castle.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun and hopefully we’ll have a gold medal to bring home, too.”

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