Canadian Paralympians pick up two more medals

Posted By: The Ski Channel on March 16, 2010 10:46 am

As of now, Canada’s para-alpine ski team has four of Canada’s six Paralympic medals in these Games after Lauren Woolstencroft and Karolina Wisniewska both medaled during yesterday’s slalom competition. Lauren took gold and Karolina took bronze. Earning silver was Germany’s Andrea Rothfuss.

“Slalom definitely hasn’t been my best event this year at all and having Karolina on the podium with me today makes this win even more special. I just want to ski my best and I think I did that today so I’m really happy. I also think that skiing my best can put me on the podium so I hope I can keep this going,” said Lauren, who began the 2010 Paralympics with five career medals including three gold.

She added that the enthusiasm of the crowd fueled her fire: “During my first run I didn’t hear anything. I was super focused and I don’t think it was as loud. But for the second run, when I got to the six last gates, it was getting pretty loud. All I could think of was to get through it. I was really happy to (win) in front of my family and friends,” she said.

Karolina was pleased with her efforts, although she was a mere .49 seconds from earning silver: “I didn’t think I was going to podium today. My focus since my comeback was to become a better skier and focusing on the process. I have always said that if I can ski like I know how and be able to lay down some good runs, I am sure the results will come and it happened today so I’m really happy,” said Karolina, who retired after the Paralympic Games in 2002 only to make a comeback beginning in 2007. The comeback was focused on her dream of winning a medal in 2010.

She added, “I knew my first run was really good but when I came down from my second run I wasn’t quite sure. I though it was good but I didn’t know if it was good enough. Apparently it was. Slalom is my favorite event and I had a really fun day. I felt that if I can focus on having fun, it should be okay. It sounds silly but it obviously worked.”

For the Americans, Allison Jones, of Colorado Springs, Colo., finished seventh after sitting in fifth after her first run.

“The first run I didn’t like,” said Jones, the defending Paralympic slalom gold medalist who also competes in cycling in the Paralympic Summer Games. “The second run I definitely came back knowing that I had nothing to lose and I felt like I put down a pretty good run. Two little mistakes and that’s about it. Otherwise I felt really good. I wish I would have gone up further, but it is what it is. I felt like I came back and had a strong run. I felt like I showed everybody what I can do.”

Here’s some coverage of the men’s race from First Tracks:

“In an exciting finish to the men’s race, Adam Hall of New Zealand threw down a blistering pace in the first run and needed all of his 2.13-second lead time after falling in his second run to retain the lead and claim the gold medal. Hall, who trains in Winter Park, Colo., had a combined time of 1:45.40 to edge Germany’s Gerd Schonfelder, who entered Vancouver with 17 Paralympic alpine medals, including 14 golds, by 0.57 (1:45.97). The bronze medal went to Australia’s Cameron Rahles-Rahbula, who covered his two runs in 1:47.69 (+2.29).

Five-time Paralympian Monte Meier, of Park City, Utah, who has said he will retire from ski racing after this year, moved up from 11th to finish in eighth place. Two-time Paralympian Brad Washburn, of Winter Park, Colo., who was eighth after the first run, got bumped by Meier and finished in ninth place.

“Today was a tough day with real unique conditions with a lot of moisture,” said U.S. Adaptive Alpine Head Coach Ray Watkins. “The courses were deteriorated. Allison Jones was in the worst possible spot that you could be in a Paralympic Games. The first run she really wasn’t herself. She needed to be firing on all cylinders in both runs. It didn’t happen. She had a great second run. Good for her on that and I’m sure she’s going to use this day as motivation to come back and kick (butt) the rest of the time.”

Meier lost some time on the bottom part of the hill on his first run, but was determined to lay it down for the final slalom run of his stellar Paralympic career.

“I had to lay it all down on the line,” stated Meier, who punctuated his second run with fists pumping high in the air. “This was my last slalom run of my life, that’s how I’m looking at it. I just had to let it all hang out. I did that. There were a couple bobbles, but you’re going to get that when you’re racing. I was definitely satisfied with my run, definitely. I didn’t have the big mistake I had in my first run. It’s all what could have happened, but you can’t look at it that way. You just have to keep going forward. I tried to make it up in the second run, I did my best.”

“Monte Meier had a good finish to his Paralympic slalom career and skied solid,” added Watkins. “Again, the first run he needed to be a little bit closer. I’m really excited for Brad Washburn. He had a good, solid day.”

Ralph Green (Vail, Colo.), who is competing in his second Paralympic Winter Games, is still in the hunt for his first Paralympic medal. He placed 22nd Monday with a time of 1:56.78 (+11.38); while John Whitney (Towson, Md.), competing in his first Paralympics, moved up five places after the first time and finished in 23rd with a time of 1:57.29 (+11.89). Paralympic veteran George Sansonetis (Fraser, Colo.), skiing in his fourth Paralympics, had a rough start out of the gate in his first run Monday and was disqualified for missing a gate.

The top Canadian man was 16-year-old Kirk Schornstein (Edmonton, Alberta) in 25th place. Matt Hallat (Whistler, British Columbia) finished in 31st place.

“I’m pretty disappointed, I didn’t ski very well. I think jitters in general were to blame and the fact that we had to wait all those days before we could actually have a race in. I have to take a look at it later today and watch some video and see what went wrong,” said Hallat.

Skiing continues for the standing athletes with the GS scheduled for Wednesday. The downhill is slated to run Thursday, super G on Saturday, and the super combined will be held on Sunday.

2010 Paralympic Winter Games
Whistler Creekside, BC
March 15, 2010

Men’s Standing Slalom
Gold: Adam Hall, New Zealand, 1:45.40
Silver: Gerd Schonfelder, Germany, 1:45.97
Bronze: Cameron Rahles-Rahbula, Australia, 1:47.69

Women’s Standing Slalom
Gold: Lauren Woolstencroft, Canada, 1:51.97
Silver: Andrea Rothfuss, Germany, 1:58.35
Bronze: Karolina Wisniewska, Canada, 1:58.84