North Americans show strong opening in Paralympic ski events

Posted By: The Ski Channel on March 15, 2010 1:47 pm

Whistler was buzzing today with Parlympic slalom action, tensions having finally been released after inclement weather postponed yesterday’s downhill races.

For the race with the visually impaired women, it was 53-year-old Austrian Sabine Gasteiger who took gold. Earning silver was Canadian Viviane Forest, and Australian Jessica Gallagher took home bronze.

“I’m really happy to have this medal,” said Forest, the IPC Crystal Globe winner in slalom the past two seasons. “I’m not really realizing it yet, this is very special. Especially since it is happening in Canada.”

Claudia Loesch took home gold for the women’s sit-ski race as defending gold medalist, American Stephani Victor was just .58 seconds away from a repeat victory. Japan’s Kuniko Obinata took home bronze.  Americans Laurie Stephens, Luba Lowery and Alana Nichols made the top ten, finishing 5, 7,8.

“Life is good. I can’t complain at all. I would have liked it to have been gold for the U.S., but that’s how it goes,” Victor said. “A little hesitation cost me the race, but I wanted to make sure I was on my line and because I wasn’t sure and hesitated, that ate up all my time.”

For the men’s visually impaired race, Slovaikia’s Kanko Jakub took gold, while Spaniard Jon Santacana Malztequi took silver and Italian Gianmaria Dal Maistro took bronze. Chris Williamson from Canada led the North Americans in sixth, and American Mark Bathum came in 11th.

Finally, for the men’s sit-ski race, German IPC world slalom champion Martin Braxenthaler earned gold ahead of Canadian Josh Dueck and Austrian Phillipp Bonadimann. “As soon as I saw that I was on the podium, that was it, that was the moment where I lost my marbles,” said Dueck. “Regardless of gold, silver or bronze, I am on the podium and that is the best feeling that I could have ever hoped for.”

Carl Burnett and X Games mono cross gold medalist Tyler Walker finished ninth and tenth, respectively to lead the U.S.

“I’m super stoked,” Burnett said.  “I knew if I could just put the hammer down and blast through those ruts and bumps and keep the ski aligned, it would be good enough to move up a few spots – I didn’t expect nine spots. I’m really happy.”

For a complete list of the days events and results, click here.