Waterville Valley, USA (Jan. 12, 2012) – The Canadian Para-alpine Ski Team's luggage will be a little heavier on their flights home after a day of successful slalom racing in which they racked up 12 podiums at the Waterville Valley, USA, Nor-Am Cup and U.S. Championships on Thursday.
"I'm looking forward to declaring them (medals) at customs," said World Cup veteran Josh Dueck, who won silvers in both the Nor-Am Cup and the U.S. Championships.
The podiums were made all a bit sweeter as the racers battled strong winds and a snowstorm in what turned out to be a challenging day.
"Running two races in one day to start with is a challenge for the athletes, it is just long days, but the weather really made it difficult,” said Continental Cup head coach Sébastien Michel. "I think it was a good day to dig deep for everyone. On the third and fourth run, after already race one, to put in the effort to go back out and do it again when the winds were probably 40-60 km/h."
One athlete in particular who dug deep was Braydon Luscombe. Luscombe took first in both the Nor-Am Cup slalom and the U.S. Championships in the men's standing category. In the Nor-Am Cup slalom, the native of Duncan, B.C., finished in a two-run combined time of one minute, 30.93 seconds, 17.28 seconds ahead of his teammate, Michael Whitney, of North Bay, Ont., who grabbed silver (1:48.21). Jorge Migueles, of Chile, placed third (1:54.02).
In the U.S. Championship slalom, Luscombe (1:31.36) finished ahead of the USA's Patrick Parnell in second (1:36.77) and Ralph Green, also of the USA, in third (1:34.81). Whitney was disqualified in his first run.
"It was a really good day," said the 19-year-old Luscombe. "Not the best weather for racing but had to make do with what we had . . .I just had a good feel for today and felt really good. All runs were pretty fast and consistent for me. I've had problems with consistency in the past, so I'm really glad I got four solid runs out of it."
With his wins, Luscombe was also able to able to secure valuable points to lower his starts when he makes his World Cup debut in March.
In men's sitting slalom, Dueck was joined on the podium by fellow sit skier and teammate Caleb Brousseau, of Terrace, B.C., who placed third in both the Nor-Am and the U.S. Championships. In the Nor-Am Cup slalom, the race was taken by the USA's Tyler Walker (1:33.47), followed by Dueck in second (1:35.45) and Brousseau in third (1:37.08). In the U.S. championships slalom, Tyler once again took first with an identical time of 1:33.47, followed by Dueck (1.33.88) and Brousseau (1:35.54).
Dueck, who turns 31 on Friday, had mixed feeling about his results.
"It's bittersweet," said the Kimberly, B.C., native, whose medal count in three days was four silvers. "I'm obviously super happy I was able to make the podium, but it's been a bittersweet week, I've been the bridesmaid all week. There have been some very good skiers who've been at the top of the podium and there’s been pretty much a different skier every day, which has been nice to see the depth in the field, but I unfortunately didn't bring my best on any of the days. I just made lots of little errors throughout, which I guess is a reflection of some of my absence in training.
Dueck had to leave the team training camp in Chile in September due to a broken finger that required surgery and could not attend the camp in Switzerland in October.
"The coaches were warning me that missing these camps would catch up and I was like 'no, no, I'll be able to make up for it and still be able to put my best down', but I wasn't quite there," explained Dueck. " But you know what, I had a great time, everybody here at Waterville Valley threw off a great event and it was good to see some of the new kids, like Caleb (Brousseau) yesterday put down two very good runs and take the title of US Champion for giant slalom.
"The reality is there are a lot of good skiers out there and the competition is getting better and better every year. Honestly this week I was consistent, four silver medals, that's pretty awesome."
Another youngster that performed well was Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team prospect Mac Marcoux and his brother and guide, BJ. The brothers from Goulais River, Ont., were the only racers to compete in the men's visually impaired category, and thus awarded first in both the Nor-Am Cup slalom and the U.S. Championship slalom, clocking times of 1:45.63 and 1:46.36, respectively.
"Today, it was very good," said 14-year-old Mac. "I was really happy with the results."
Coach Michel was also happy with the prospect's day of racing.
"He was really consistent in his runs and the guys skied really well," Michel said. "For him being so young and having to race four runs in a hard situation like that, it's a lot of good experience."
The para-alpine team had two other prospects race well in Thursday’s slaloms. In the standing category, Alexandra Starker, of Calgary, Alta., placed first in the Nor-Am Cup ladies' slalom (1.48.90), ahead of the USA duo, Stephanie Jallen in second (2:16.31) and Meghan Erickson in third (2:27.53). In the U.S. Championship slalom, Starker finished second (1.52. 86), ahead of Canadian Para-alpine Ski Team prospect Vanessa Knight, of Baie D'Urfe, Que., in third (1:55.78). Jallen finished first in the U.S. Championship slalom in 1:52.67.
While Knight was disqualified in her second run of the Nor-Am Cup slalom, she acquired enough points in the U.S. Championship slalom to qualify to race in World Cup slaloms.
For Starker, her two podiums on Thursday gave her three golds and one silver in Waterville Valley in three days. The prospect was named the International Paralympic Committee Athlete of the Month for the month of December based on her four gold medals in Nor-Am Cup slalom and giant slalom in Copper Mountain, USA in December.
The para-alpine Nor-Am Cup series continues in Kimberly, B.C., from Feb. 14 to 17 with two downhill training runs, a downhill and a super-G.
Jan. 12, 2012 – Nor-Am Cup – Waterville Valley, USA – men’s slalom
Jan. 12, 2012 – Nor-Am Cup – Waterville Valley, USA – ladies’ slalom
Jan. 12, 2012 – U.S. Championships – Waterville Valley, USA – men’s slalom
Jan. 12, 2012 – U.S. Championships – Waterville Valley, USA – ladies’ slalom
ABOUT THE NOR-AM CUP
The Nor-Am Cup series stacks up-and-coming Canadian athletes, including members of the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team, against ski racers from around the world. Races are held in Canada and the USA. The series allows athletes to prepare mentally and technically for International Paralympic Committee World Cup racing. For more information on the Nor-Am Cup series or to view a full schedule of events, visit http://www.alpinecanada.org/events/nor-am-cup.
ABOUT ALPINE CANADA ALPIN
Alpine Canada Alpin is the national governing body for alpine, para-alpine and ski cross racing in Canada. With the support of valued corporate partners along with the Government of Canada, Own The Podium and the Canadian Olympic Committee, Alpine Canada develops Olympic, world championship and World Cup medallists to stimulate visibility, inspiration and growth in the ski community.
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