The Paralympic community is celebrating after it was announced Wednesday that another discipline of the roaring game has been added to the 2026 Paralympics in Italy.
The International Paralympic Committee confirmed wheelchair mixed doubles curling has been provisionally approved as an additional event at the 2026 Paralympic Winter Games.
The announcement was made following official confirmation at a recent IPC board meeting.
Curling Canada's national wheelchair coach Mick Lizmore says this addition is a boost for the sport.
"This is truly good news for the sport of wheelchair curling, and will certainly add motivation to Canadian athletes as we work towards the debut of mixed doubles in 2026," Lizmore said.
"It will open more eyes to the possibilities of getting involved with wheelchair curling."
Canada's success at Paralympics
Canada has had great success at the Paralympics in the mixed team event, having won three golds and a bronze medal since it was added to the program in 2006.
Now, Canadian curlers will have another chance to add to the medal haul at the 2026 Paralympics.
"This is about expanding the winter sport program," said Martin Richard, executive director of communications for the Canadian Paralympic Committee.
"We only have five sports in the Paralympics right now so this is a great opportunity to show Canadians more winter athletes."
Those five sports include nordic events, alpine skiing, snowboarding, para ice hockey and curling.
"I know the Paralympics community as a whole is quite excited. Our staff celebrated the news this morning. We knew this was coming but you just never know," Richard said.
This now means that two curling events, mixed team and mixed doubles, are part of the 2026 Paralympic winter program.
However, there will be changes to the number of teams competing — the mixed team event will go from 12 teams to 10 teams, meaning there will be 10 less athletes competing in that bonspiel. The mixed doubles wheelchair event will feature no more than eight teams — an increase of 16 athletes at the Games.
Final confirmation by late 2022 or early 2023
A final confirmation of all medal events and athlete quotas will be made by the International Paralympic Committee Governing Board in late 2022 or the first quarter of 2023.
World Curling Federation President Kate Caithness says they are absolutely delighted with the news, confirming that two wheelchair curling events will be included in the Paralympic program in 2026.
"We are confident that this new discipline will accelerate the visibility and growth of wheelchair curling in the coming years. This is a fundamental step in showcasing our sport and making it more accessible to everyone around the world," she said.
The Canadian mixed team is coming off a silver medal performance at last year's world wheelchair curling championship.
The upcoming world championship, which will also feature mixed doubles wheelchair curling for the first time, was scheduled for Lohja, Finland in January 2021. However, the event has been cancelled and a new competition date in late 2021 is being explored.