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Marie Wright sets sights on return to Paralympics and new wheelchair curling discipline 

May 19, 2022

Written by: Matt Johnson

Marie Wright delivers the rock in the 2022 World Wheelchair Mixed Doubles Curling Championship in Lohja, Finland. Photo by WCF / Jiri Snitil

Since 2009, Marie Wright has been no stranger to wheelchair curling in Saskatchewan. 

But the resident of Moose Jaw and product of Oxbow got her first official introduction to the mixed doubles game after competing for Canada at the 2022 World Wheelchair Mixed Doubles Curling Championship in Lohja, Finland. 

The inaugural mixed doubles world championship came as a precursor for the 2026 Paralympics where the sport is set to debut, following in the steps of the Olympics where the curling variation debuted in 2018.

That announcement was all it took for Wright to approach her national team coach about the possibility of her making the transition to the mixed doubles variation, setting the stage for this trip to Finland. 

While Wright and her Team Canada partner Jamie Anseeuw finished the event with a 3-5 record and narrowly missed out on the playoffs, there were plenty of positives to take away from the tournament, as they competed together for the first time. 

“It was a learning experience and even though the end wasn’t what we thought it would be, it actually felt like we were close. It felt like we were two shots away here and there from being from seventh place to second place. I think we learned a lot from it, and I think it will definitely help moving forward,” said Wright. 

Prior to worlds, Wright’s only opportunity to play mixed doubles was in an able -bodied mixed doubles curling league at home in Moose Jaw. With experience now under her belt, Wright comes home with big takeaways in terms of what the team needs to come home and work on, as well as a better understanding of the differences in gameplay between the wheelchair and able-bodied variations. 

“The main thing in the wheelchair game is that first shot of the game and I don’t think it even opened your eyes to realize how important that first shot can be until you actually are in the situation where you see it, because once you get that first shot in narrow with a wheelchair, there’s not as many take-outs to try and open it up so you can get another shot in there,” said Wright. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is PyeongChangMarie-Wrightwheelchair-curlingbronze-17mar2018164749-photo-credit-Scott-Grant-CPC-820x1024.jpg
Marie Wright after the bronze medal game of wheelchair curling during the 2018 Paralympic Games. Photo: Scott Grant/Canadian Paralympic Committee.

While this was Wright’s first shot at competing on the world stage in mixed doubles, the Moose Javian is certainly no stranger to donning the maple leaf. Wright was the lead for Team Canada’s bronze medal winning squad at the 2018 Paralympic Games in PyeongChang, where Canada claimed their fourth-consecutive medal with a 5-3 win over South Korea.  

That bronze medal is one that Wright holds close to heart. She admits she looks at it “quite often,” and during the 2022 Paralympics, she visited schools in Moose Jaw with the medal, including one her grandchildren attend. 

“They find it pretty cool that their grandma has a medal and how lucky they are to have a grandma like that,” Wright admitted. 

Wright’s joyous personality only helps her garner more of a following in Moose Jaw — her daughter Kyla joked in a 2018 interview with CBC’s Devin Heroux that when the two go shopping together they’ll have to stop “85 times to talk to people.” 

“It’s pretty cool. Actually, it’s funny that my daughter would say that because there’s even times when I will go out and somebody will come up to me and ask me about my curling that I don’t even know, so it’s pretty cool to have that,” said Wright. 

Marie Wright competes in wheelchair curling during the 2018 Paralympic Games in PyeongChang. Photo Scott Grant/Canadian Paralympic Committee.

Part of what makes her journey even more impressive is it was less than 10 years between Wright’s introduction to the sport of curling and her representing Canada in the Paralympics., She got her first taste after she was invited out to curl by Lorraine Arguin, a friend and curling coach who wanted Saskatchewan to participate at wheelchair nationals in 2009.  

Three years later, Wright and Team Saskatchewan won a gold medal at nationals, spring boarding her to a Team Canada camp invite. It was there she realized she was close in abilities to the national team members and the opportunity of one day attending the Paralympics was within reach. 

“I could never have imagined this 15 years ago. It was just a sport that I took up because I really enjoyed it the very first time I got on the ice. To see how it’s grown and how I’ve grown in this sport — It’s pretty awesome,” said Wright. 

And on top of it all, the opportunity to represent Canada on one of sport’s biggest stages is something Wright doesn’t take for granted. 

 

I don’t think you even realize it until you get there and you’re wearing the maple leaf on your back, and you see all the other people wearing their country’s flags or their country emblems on their backs. You realize that you’ve got all of Canada back home cheering for you and it’s just such a neat feeling to know that.  

Wright on wearing the maple leaf for Team Canada

Wright describes her success in PyeongChang as one of the biggest highs of her life. Not only was she able to finish on the podium with a medal around her neck, but on top of it all, she was able to experience the Games with two of her daughters by her side — and they are already looking ahead to another potential trip to watch their mom in 2026. 

“My daughters have already said ’You know, mom, if you can get to Italy, we would all come because Italy sounds like a really cool place to go’,” joked Wright. 

But make no mistake, the Paralympics are where Wright wants to be when 2026 rolls around. 

“That is my long-term goal. I’m not too sure what is going to happen and what the program is going to look like — but that definitely is my goal. I would love to be able to go to Milan.”