Abbotsford’s Craig Walldbillig (middle) and the rest of Team Chan hope to head to Italy in 2019 to battle for a deaf curling world title.

Deaf curler chasing world title

Abbotsford’s Craig Walldbillig, Team Chan heading to Italy next year

It might be the quietest game on ice, but one Abbotsford curler and his teammates are making noise on the national and international stage in the sport of deaf curling.

Craig Walldbillig, a member of the 2018 Canadian Deaf Curling Association champion Team Chan squad, hasn’t been able to hear since birth and despite that fact he has been throwing rocks for over 30 years.

Originally from Saskatchewan, Walldbillig moved to Abbotsford about five years ago and joined Team Chan, made up of Lower Mainland deaf curlers Roger Chan, Dale Proctor, Frank Chung, Raymond James and head coach Katie Witt.

The team practises every Sunday at the Royal City Curling Club in New Westminster, and Walldbillig also plays at the Abbotsford Curling Club on Wednesday mornings and in Cloverdale on Thursdays.

Deaf curling plays with all the same rules as traditional curling, but the athletes and coaches communicate using sign language.

Team Chan advanced to the finals at the 2017 CDCA finals in Edmonton, but lost 9-0 in the final. However, the team bounced back in 2018 in Winnipeg to win the tournament.

The team defeated Team Comte from Manitoba 8-6 in the gold-medal game back in February to earn the top spot.

It’s the first time in 37 years that a B.C.-based team has won gold at the event.

With the big win, Walldbillig and Team Chan qualified for the Deaflympics, which occur in Italy in December 2019.

They are looking for assistance from the public to help fund the trip and achieve their dreams of winning a world title.

For more information on how to donate, contact 2012rogerchan@gmail.com.

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