Proud Member of Team Canada - Gil Dash says that growing up within the “curling community” in Kipling was part of a journey that led to him becoming a member of the National Team – which won Silver at the recent World Wheelchair Curling Championships in B.C.

World Wheelchair Curling Championships

Our days, months and years are comprised of little shards of eternity. Far smaller than a moment – these fragments of time often provide us with just enough space to take a decent breath. We live through them…oblivious to their passing. Yet, within just one of these tiny portions of time…everything about our lives can be forever changed.
When such a pivotal instant came for Gil Dash – it was in a connection to curling which had begun years earlier – that he found what he needed to move forward.
Growing up in Kipling, Dash says that he spent a lot of his wintertime hours in the local rink.
“My dad curled and so did my brother. Curling was a big part of life for people in a small community like Kipling at that time. When Dad curled, we’d end up going to Windthorst or Kennedy for their ‘Open” bonspiels. There was lots of great food – lots of people – and the curling went on for days!
“When the Kipling Open was on, I’d go to the rink for lunch and really good pie – and be back there after school. That was just part of what you did. My life during the wintertime was basically in the rink.
“So, I got into curling too. I learned how to curl from my family and from people like Ken Burton and Marlene Geis. Those folks were big supporters of Junior Curling back then. In fact, those same people are still following me today.”
After he suffered a spinal cord injury in 2006, Dash says that he was encouraged to get back out onto the ice and try wheelchair curling.
“I was ski jumping at a park in Kimberly. It was something that I’d done quite a few times. But that day – I landed a bit ‘off’ and crashed. When that happened, I broke my back and damaged my spinal cord.
“However, I had what they call an ‘incomplete’ spinal cord injury. For me – that meant that there was a lot of pain – which made the process of rehabilitation and getting through that time very hard.
“For a long time, I was simply focused on trying not to be sick every day. Then once I was able to get out – I found being around other people hard. I also realized that there were a lot of places that I couldn’t go. Very few places were actually accessible.
“Dr. Robert Capp was at the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre and he was very involved in getting Wheelchair Curling started in Saskatchewan. He encouraged me to try it. So, I started curling in 2008 and in 2009 Wheelchair Curling got established in Saskatchewan.” He (Dash) notes that becoming involved in wheelchair curling has allowed him to regain and maintain his overall health.
“Curling has been a big part of my recovery and a way for me to stay healthy – both physically and mentally. It allows you to be physically active and accomplish something in a challenging environment. You have to always be thinking about things like the (ever-changing) ice conditions – the (ever-changing) position of the rocks on the ice – and what the other team is doing. So, curling challenges you mentally as well.”
Since getting involved in Wheelchair Curling, Dash has been part of Gold Medal winning provincial teams in 2012, 2016 and 2018. He was also scouted by members of the Canadian management team for the wheelchair curling program in 2016 and placed into the “National NextGen Program” along with other athletes that have the potential to represent Canada on the world stage.
In January, Dash was named to Team Canada (along with Skip – Mark Ideson, Third – Ina Forrest, Fourth – Jon Thurston and Fifth – Marie Wright) and traveled with the team to Richmond, BC last week – to represent Canada in the 2023 World Wheelchair Curling Championships. Team Canada faced China in the Final Game on Sunday, emerging as Silver Medalists.
Dash says that being named to Team Canada – having the opportunity to represent his country at the World Championships – and winning the Silver Medal – represents a long-held achievement that came after another, more recent struggle.
“I was supposed to go to the Mixed Doubles Curling Championships in Finland last year. That didn’t happen because I ended up needing emergency surgery in February. It took me a long time to recover from that.
“But curling provides a unique way to learn how to face adversity and uncertainty. So, I was able to get through that and come out of it with a different perspective. I managed to get back on the ice in in August and did pretty well. Then I found out at the beginning of this year that I’d made it onto Team Canada for the World Championships.
“For me, being a member of Team Canada and representing my country in the World Championships meant achieving one of my long-time goals. Those other teams really are the best in the world. The team from China won the Gold Medal in the last Paralympics. So, curling against them in the World Championship Final Game itself was huge! Bringing home the Silver Medal just adds to it.”
Next week Dash will be in Moose Jaw taking part in the Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship (March 19 – 25). Dash will skip one of the 2 teams representing Saskatchewan at that competition and will again be joined on the ice by another member of Team Canada – Marie Wright.
He says that Wright is someone he has curled with often and notes that being part of this “curling community” has been a great benefit for him.
“Marie Wright is the other member of Team Canada who is from this province – which says a lot for Saskatchewan! She’s from Moose Jaw, and I’ve curled with her at Nationals several times. That’s meant we’ve been able to travel together – which has helped us both a lot – because we both understand what needs to be done when you’re traveling in a wheelchair.
“Having good friends like Marie – being able to do something well – and having the chance to curl against other teams that are really good – are all things that are very important to me. That’s why curling has become such a big part of my life.”
While he notes that young people growing up in places like Kipling today will have quite different memories to take with them when they leave – Dash encourages them to seek out different experiences and take hold of opportunities when they can.
“Things are a lot different for kids now. They have a lot of things demanding their time. Yet, it seems like they get to do a lot less. They might play hockey for example – but that probably means that they don’t take part in something else.
“When I was a kid, we did a lot of different things. For me, that meant that I had something to fall back on when I got hurt. I know circumstances are a lot different now. People have to travel further to take part in things and everything costs more.
“But, as much as they can, I’d encourage kids to try getting involved in different things.
“Even though they look different for everyone – life-changing moments happen to all of us. Some of those changes might be good. Some might not be good. But whatever the situation is – when your life changes – you never know what might be that one thing that makes a difference.”

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