Preview
Team USA is looking to make its first trip to the podium at the Paralympic Winter Games 2018 PyeongChang as wheelchair curling is contested for the fourth time as a medal sport. The number of competing teams in PyeongChang has been increased to 12 countries for the first time to allow more athletes to have an opportunity to compete.

At the 2014 Games in Sochi, Team USA got off to a slow start and missed the playoffs, finishing fifth in the field of 10. In Vancouver, the U.S. team lost the bronze-medal game in its lone Paralympic playoff appearance.

Team USA has already qualified for the 2018 Games after two solid performance at the 2015 and 2016 World Wheelchair Curling Championships in which the Americans finished fifth and sixth, respectively. The team is currently having a strong 2016-17 campaign, capturing gold at an international competition in Finland and is poised to make a run at a medal at the 2017 World Wheelchair Championship at the test event for the PyeongChang Paralympic Games at the Gangnueng Curling Centre in Gangneung, South Korea.

The Wheelchair Curling Program in the U.S. continues to strengthen as more and more clinics are taking place at new locations – further diversifying the pool of potential national team candidates. An upcoming camp in Denver this spring is aimed at introducing the sport to disabled service members and veterans – a growing trend in the U.S. among Paralympic sports organizations.

 

Storylines

  • Patrick McDonald, skip of Team USA at the Sochi Paralympic Winter Games, was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2016 and began an intensive chemotherapy in hopes of eradicating the disease from his body. McDonald is on the road to recovery and hoping to be back on the ice with Team USA this summer in preparation for the 2017-18 season.
  • Team USA has only won one medal at the World Wheelchair Curling Championship – bronze in 2008 – but is having an impressive 2016-17 season that might create very positive results leading into the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games. Led by relative newcomers Steve Emt and Kirk Black, the U.S. team goes into the 2017 World Wheelchair Championship as a team to watch.
  • Canada is the lone country to top the podium at the Paralympic Winter Games, having captured gold in 2006, 2010 and 2014. Will it be another country’s time to shine in 2018 in PyeongChang? Russia, China, Norway, and the U.S. currently round out the top-four in country rankings leading into the 2018 Paralympic Games.



Athletes To Watch
Patrick McDonald
McDonald, an Army veteran, is looking to make his third Paralympic team. McDonald is currently in remission from cancer and is sitting out the 2016-17 season as he recovers. The leader of the U.S. team in Sochi, McDonald continues to train at the Madison Curling Club in Wisconsin.

Kirk Black
Black splits his time between San Antonio and Madison, Wisconsin, as he commits to training for the upcoming Paralympic Games. Named to Team USA for the first time this season, Black is quickly becoming a solid player and leader on the ice.

Steve Emt 
Steve Emt, a former basketball player at the University of Connecticut, has taken over the skipping duties for Team USA this season and is a strong candidate to be part of Team USA in PyeongChang. Emt has quickly become a consistent shot maker and strategist for the U.S. team.

Penny Greely 
Penny Greely has her eyes set on another Paralympic Games after previous appearances in 2014 in wheelchair curling) and 2008 in sitting volleyball. The strongest female contender to make the team in 2018, Greely is a consistent player at the lead position – often leading the world championship field in shooting percentage at her position.

Jimmy Joseph 
Joseph, the sparkplug of Team USA due to his energy and positive attitude, has been a part of every national team since 2005, including the 2006, 2010 and 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. Joseph has been the face of the U.S. wheelchair national team for more than a decade and is consistently improving each season.


Qualification

Countries secure qualification points for the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang based on performances at the 2015, 2016 and 2017 World Wheelchair Curling Championships. The U.S. team has already qualified to the 12-team field for the 2018 Paralympic Games based on fifth- and sixth-place finishes in 2015 and 2016.


Selection

During the 2016-17 season, athletes were invited to try out for the Paralympic Wheelchair Curling Team at two events, held in September and November of 2016. From there, a pool of eight athletes was determined for the national team. The team of five athletes for the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games will come from this pool of athletes. During the 2016-17 season, athletes are being evaluated at clinics, camps and international competitions. Prior to Dec. 18, 2017, the Player Selection Committee will meet and nominate five athletes to the 2018 Paralympic Team from the pool of eight athletes who are on the 2016-17 National Team at the time of nomination.


Key Dates

March 4-11

2017 World Wheelchair Championship (PyeongChang, South Korea)

April 19-21

U.S. Paralympic Introductory Sport Camp for Disabled Service Members & Veterans (Denver, Colorado)