The sports of curling requires skill and strategy even from a wheelchair. That is the reality for teammates Kirk Black and Justin Marshall. Both in wheelchairs, and both have qualified for the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea next month in the Paralympics.
Black from San Antonio, TX lives in Madison for parts of the year and Marshall an Evansville native are teammates on the national Paralympic curling team.
"It's starting to set in a little bit more." Said Marshall. "We do do take it one day at a time. Training every day but with competitions coming up and a couple of over seas trips it's starting to get real."
At 12-years-old, Marshall suffered from a stroke that created a blood clot in his spinal cord that damaged majority of his spinal nerves. Black, an army veteran was in a motocross accident nearly 20 years ago that put him in a wheelchair. The two met through curling tournaments and now are close teammates.
"Justin and I have a unique relationship." Said Black. "I can look at him and he knows exactly what I'm thinking or vise versa and it's kind of a scary thing at times."
The scary thing is, just how good these two are. Unlike normal curling, they don't have a sweeper down ice to guide the stone, instead they rely on their release which is accomplished with a pole.
"We don't have sweepers, so we have to rely purely on our delivery." Marshall said. "We have a two and a half, three foot swing of the arm static push and that's all of the control we have over the stone."
The sport of curling is relatively new for Black and Marshall. Both have been curling for less than five years. An activity that both are thankful for, and embrace, just like their lives in a wheelchair.
"It's no different for me than it is for you." Said Black. "You've had something in your life that you have had to deal with, just like I've had to deal with and it's how you deal with them. I've been more blessed since being in a wheelchair than I ever have before hand."