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Wheelchair curling clinic teaches basics

Posted: July 3, 2014 5:44 p.m.
Updated: July 3, 2014 5:44 p.m.

Frank Alito throws a stone as instructor and two-time U.S. paralympian curler Patrick McDonald instructs him on how to keep the stone in a straight line during the Triumph Foundation and Hollywood Curling's wheelchair curling clinic at Ice Station Valencia on June 28. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze

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Jerry O’Brien wasn’t even going to get on the ice.

But that didn’t last long.

“It looked like so much fun!” he said.

O’Brien and nine other wheelchair-users hit the ice at Ice Station Valencia recently to try their hand at curling, a sport that requires players to push stones across the ice toward a target.

The clinic was a joint effort of the Triumph Foundation and Hollywood Curling. Taught by two-time Paralympian curler Patrick McDonald, the clinic was the first of its kind in California.

“This is so cool to be working with someone who is world-class,” O’Brien said.

Ten members of the Triumph Foundation attended the clinic, including board member Andrew Angulo.

“It’s a great way to get people involved and out of the house,” Angulo said.

That is, after all, how McDonald got involved, too.

“He just can’t sit still. He likes to try everything,” McDonald’s wife, Carrie, said. Before curling, McDonald also played wheelchair basketball, golf, swimming and more.

An Army veteran, McDonald competed in the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics, just missing a medal in 2010 when the U.S. team placed fourth. But he’s not giving up on the gold yet.

“We’re determined to get a medal,” Carrie said.

The McDonald family moved from Northern California, where he was first introduced to curling, all the way to Madison, Wis. so he could train full-time on specially treated curling ice. Now he’s also working to help promote wheelchair curling with the U.S. Curling Association and the U.S. Olympic Committee.

“He’s all about helping anybody and everybody,” Carrie said.

And it seems helping others is central to the sport itself.

“One really cool thing about curling is it’s really open and accepting,” said Lynn Taylor, an instructor with Hollywood Curling. “It’s all family.”

 

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