In this episode Jonathan interviews two people who helped the Ukraine national team leave Kyiv, find a new training facility in Finland, and compete in the European C Curling Championship. First we talk with Natalia Menzhega the Executive Secretary of the Ukrainian Curling Federation. She talks about the history of curling in Ukraine, how she helped members of the national team leave the country once the war with Russia began, and the support the team received from the international curling community. We then talk with Lauri Ikälvo from the Kisakalio Sports Institute about how the Finnish curling community is now hosting the Ukrainian national team.
Latvia’s wheelchair curling team, led by skip Poļina Rožkova, made its Paralympic debut at the 2022 Games in Beijing. Poļina tells us about the team’s road from the B division to Paralympic qualification and takes us behind the scenes in Beijing. This includes her team’s conversations about whether or not to potentially play against Russia and her efforts to help Ukrainian refugees. We also learn about how Poļina got into curling in Latvia and how she 3D printed her own head for her delivery stick.
Sweden captured four curling medals during the Olympics and Paralympics in 2022, including gold for Niklas Edin. But did this unparalleled success lead to more curlers in the country? We talk to development officer Sara Carlsson to find out all about curling in Sweden: from how their high performance program is set up to the changes they’ve made to recruit new curlers. Sweden has had plenty of wins on the ice. However, we found the most interesting part of the conversation to be the wins they’ve had off the ice and how they’re addressing issues that are common around the world. These include initiatives that they have developed with Dr. Richard Norman and Dr. Heather Mair with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.
Stewart Pimblett has been a dedicated curler even before he started playing. His journey to try the sport at the rink in Kelso, Scotland was a harrowing one and is one of the most incredible “how I started curling” stories you’ll hear. He went on to establish the Northern Ice Wheelchair Curling Club and has grown it into a vibrant organization. Stewart tells us how he went from a high-level wheelchair basketball player to representing England in wheelchair curling. He also explains what curling facilities can do to help grow wheelchair curling.
Get to know each of the wheelchair curling teams scheduled to compete at the 2022 Paralympics in Beijing. Please note this was recorded and posted before a definitive decision has been made on the participation of the team representing the Russian Paralympic Committee.
We recap a fun Olympic curling tournament. First, we discuss the narratives surrounding the performances of Canada, Sweden and Great Britain. What’s next for Curling Canada? Do we have a new greatest curler of all time? Is Team GB’s process justified? Then we list our favorite things from these Olympics, including the BBC’s dislike of Team USA and some daily affirmations. We try to end with some joy and hope.
Like the United States, interest in curling soars in Japan during the Olympics. This interest has reached even greater levels following Japan’s bronze medal performance at the 2018 games. Naoki Iwanaga, a former competitive curler from Japan now living in the US, joins us to talk all things Japanese curling. We discuss the differences in curling culture between Japan and the US. Then, we learn about the growth of the sport in Japan and the need for a dedicated curling facility in Tokyo. He also introduces us to the concept of “沼” (meaning pond or swamp) and how it relates to the increased attention on curling during Team Fujisawa’s games.
And down the stretch they come! Every team at the Olympics has three games left on their schedule at the time of this recording. First, we try to untangle the women’s standings. Then, we breakdown the game that will probably decide the men’s playoff field.
As everyone predicted (and by everyone, we mean no one), Italy will face Norway for the mixed doubles curling gold. In this episode we review the mixed doubles competition going into the gold- and bronze-medal games, especially the fantastic stories of Italy and Australia. We also discuss what trends could emerge in mixed doubles as a whole coming out of these games.
Everyone’s Olympic curling dream has to start somewhere. For Laventer Oguta and Haggai Odhiambo Ogak, that dream starts New Jersey. These two members of the Kenya Curling Federation recently got their first experience on curling ice at Plainfield Curling Club with hopes that they will soon represent their nation in World Curling Federation events. They join us, along with Dean Roth from Plainfield Curling Club, to talk about how they were introduced to curling, how their initial training is going and what the future holds for curling in Kenya.