Wheelchair curling champion initially turned down opportunity to learn the sport

Throwing rocks down the ice was never Carolyn Linder’s plan after losing both of her legs from the knee down.

But it was a trip for groceries that sparked her interest in curling.

“Just shortly after I lost my legs, I happened to be at Costco and I saw a gentleman in a wheelchair and he was moving beautifully,” Carolyn said recalling the moment she was first introduced to curling.

She says she went up to the man to compliment him on his wheelchair skills, where she learned he was Dennis Thiessen, a member of Team Canada Curling for the Paralympics.

“He said he was going to Sochi for the Paralympics, and asked me if I wanted to learn to play.”

Caroyln says she remembers turning down his offer and the thought left her mind.

A year later she ran into Dennis again at Costco, still asking if she’d try the sport, she said she politely turned down his offer once more.

Another year passed and Carolyn said she ran into the Team Canada player once more at the grocery store. This time she decided to take him up on his offer.

“I just felt like the universe was trying to tell me something.”

That’s where she met her teammate Mark, who trained Carolyn how to throw the rocks and use the unique sticks.

“Most people we say it takes 2,000 rocks to throw before you feel comfortable,” Mark Wherrett of Team Manitoba said.

But just a few weeks later, Carolyn along with her Team Manitoba took home the championship gold medal.

This year, Team Manitoba is going for gold at the National Wheelchair Curling Championship once again.

Fourteen mixed-gender teams will compete from April 25 until May 1 in Boucherville, Quebec.

“It’s a really intriguingly competitive sport,” says Mark.

The team is raising money for the cost of the trip on a Go Fund Me page.

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