With the International Paralympic Committee sanctioning its first-ever women’s ice sledge hockey tournament, Christina Picton is part of another unique chapter in Canadian women’s sporting history. Not only is the event being hosted on home soil (Brampton, Ontario), but Picton is donning the prestigious captain’s C on her sweater.
This puts her in the same hockey stratosphere as Sue Scherer and Stacy Wilson. Of note, Scherer was Canada’s first captain when the team competed in the inaugural IIHF Women’s Worlds. Wilson was given the honor of the captaincy at the first-ever women’s ice hockey tournament in the Winter Games.
Picton gets to follow in their proud patriotic footsteps as Canada’s first captain for an IPC sanctioned event. While the Vancouver Paralympic Winter Games helped bring awareness to Canadians about ice sledge hockey, the competitors involved were men.
While there is no denying that ice sledge competitors such as Greg Westlake, Herve Lord, Todd Nicholson and Billy Bridges are true Canadian heroes, it was only natural that some fans were curious as to whether women competed in the sport. Luckily, a new generation of women are taking up the sport and helping to raise the self-esteem of other young disabled women.
Among the sport’s heroes is Christina Picton. Picton is a player that may become very familiar in the years to come. Although she may not be a household name like Hayley Wickenheiser or Natalie Spooner, she is working tirelessly to make Canada’s female competitors in ice sledge hockey among the worlds finest.
In addition to her hockey talents, Picton is also a very talented artist. Currently studying graphic design collegiately, she has composed digital art, along with painting and pencil sketches. The ability to illustrate and render beautiful works by hand is a creative release, which only helps further her athletic ambitions. Of note, she reflects on how the sport has already been a positive in her life,
”Sledge hockey has been an incredible motivator for me in my life. It has been a great reason to stay in shape and push me to develop myself as a disciplined and passionate athlete. It has created many opportunities for me to meet new people and to travel for the sport I love. Plus, being involved in the hockey community feels so Canadian, I would not change that feeling for anything.”
Just like the inaugural IIHF Women’s Worlds were hosted in Canada (back in 1990); another proud hockey chapter is written with the hosting of the first IPC Women’s Ice Sledge Hockey Cup. As the team captain, the honor is not lost on Picton, who is proud to be part of another great moment for Canadian women in sport,
”It is such an honour for Canada to host the first IPC Ice Sledge Hockey Women’s World Cup. For so many years, we (all the women’s sledge programs) have been working so hard to get our sport recognized by the IPC and bring awareness to the public.
To have the opportunity for Canada to host and have our fan base be able to come out and support the event and our team is such an exciting feeling. It really motivates our team to play hard and to our full potential. We really want to represent Canada well and make our country proud.”
Helping Canada advance to the gold medal game, Picton and Corin Metzger would earn the assists on Canada’s lone goal, scored by Ashley Goure. Despite a silver medal finish, it was part of an admirable effort that helped make Canadian fans proud.
While the ages on the national team range from the late teens to the early forties, the unique blend of backgrounds and experiences only adds to an exciting dynamic. As team captain, Picton is very respectful of the roles others play on the team, understanding that everyone contributes in their own way.
”There are many different leaders on our team, so I feel very honoured to have been named captain for this season. The opportunity to wear the "C" is incredible and I am going to do everything I can to represent Canada and make everyone proud.”
While Picton is destined to become a role model for disabled (and able-bodied) Canadian sports fans, she also recognizes that there were several individuals along the way who helped to positively influence her career. There is no question that her maturity and appreciation for the opportunities provide is testament to the strength of Canada’s program, along with a bright future ahead for both Picton and the growth of female ice sledge hockey.
”I have been very fortunate to have been taught by many different players and coaches over the years. I would have to say that Karl Ludwig and Brendan Blanchard have been two major influences in my development as a player. They have always challenged me and pushed me to be the best I can be.”
All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated.
Photos supplied by Christina Picton