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LA MOLINA, SPA (Feb. 24, 2013) - The Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team doubled its medal count at the para-alpine world championships in Spain on Sunday by winning three bronze medals in slalom.
Sit-skier Kimberly Joines earned her second medal of the world championships, while visually impaired skier Viviane Forest — who was skiing a comeback race¬ — and standing skier Alexandra Starker both picked up their first podiums of the weeklong event.
“I think I laid down two pretty solid runs. I was pretty stoked with my finish,” Joines said. “It feels really good. It’s right on target with some of my goal-setting coming in to world champs.”
The Rossland, B.C.-based skier, who won silver in downhill earlier in the week and is typically known as a speed racer, was second after her first run, behind defending world champion Anna Schaffelhuber of Germany
“I actually surprised myself when I finished second after the first run,” Joines said. “I felt really good about my position and really slayed the flat parts of the course. I struggled a bit on the pitch, but I think everyone did today.”
After what Joines called a “more conservative” second run, she finished third with a two-run combined time of two minutes 32.76 seconds. Schaffelhuber took gold (2:26.18), crossing the line more than five seconds ahead of the second-place finisher, teammate Anna-Lena Forster (2:31.31)
Canada's Forest, from Edmonton, Alta., along with guide Chloé Lauzon-Gauthier, of Joliette, Que., joined Joines on the podium with a slalom bronze in what was her first world championship race in four years. Forest could not race at the 2011 world championships due to injury, so standing on the podium again on the world stage was a sweet feeling.
“I'm really happy about it, and at the same time I'm a little surprised,” Forest said. “I'm not sure what I was expecting here, but I wanted to do my best, and for sure we did that. We worked very hard and I'm proud of our result.”
Forest clipped a gate with her radio headset during the first run, making it impossible to communicate with Lauzon-Gauthier for part of the course, but she persevered and still managed to finish third and hold that position until the end (2:13.60).
“It was a very challenging course,” she said. “The condition of the snow was quite difficult, so the first run this morning, Chloé and I did have some problems keeping the right distance between each other. The second run we tried to stay closer together and charged even more.”
Forest and Lauzon-Gauthier raced in slalom on Saturday before the event was cancelled due to weather. They posted their fastest slalom time in Saturday's run, and were sitting second when strong winds forced organizers to call of the race and postpone it until Sunday.
“We were a bit disappointed because it went so good and we were so ready, but that's ski racing for you,” Forest said.
Forest will compete in giant slalom on Tuesday.
Eighteen-year-old Starker, a Calgary, Alta. standing skier, rounded off Canada's trio of bronze medals. The podium finish is the young racer's best result in slalom at an international level, and she was thrilled with her performance.
“I've been working really hard with the coaches over the past few months on some technical skills, so I really applied those during my runs and felt like I had two really solid runs,” Starker said. “I'm very excited to be on the podium.”
Starker, who finished with a two-run combined time of 2:13.65, was up against France's Marie Bochet, who has been on a spectacular streak at world championships where she has won three back-to-back gold medals. The 20-year-old was unbeatable, winning by more than seven seconds (2:04.98).
On the men's side, sit-skier Caleb Brousseau, from Terrace, B.C., finished seventh (2:09.76) in challenging conditions that saw many skiers in all categories fail to finish the course.
Chris Williamson, a visually impaired skier from Toronto, Ont. who won bronze and silver in downhill and super-G and was favoured to win another medal, was disqualified when he and his guide, Robin Fémy of Mont-Tremblant, Que., became too far apart on the course. Spain’s Yon Santacana, Williamson’s rival who has so far proved unbeatable at world championships, also suffered a mishap during the course and was disqualified.
Canadian visually impaired racers Mac and Billy Joe Marcoux from Sault Ste-Marie, Ont., were also disqualified, as was Braydon Luscombe, a standing skier from Duncan, B.C. Josh Dueck, a sit-skier from Kimberley, B.C., skied out and did not finish.
“I'm pretty happy with the girls' performances, but disappointed with how it turned out for the guys,” said para-alpine head coach Jean-Sébastien Labrie, who is hungry for a gold medal before the world championships end.
“I think the girls in many ways did their job and they performed the way we were looking for. This is very encouraging for the rest of the week,” Labrie said. “With the guys, I think the level of skiing is there, and we are pushing them to ski fast and be intense. Sometimes in slalom that means they go out.”
All members of the Canadian para-alpine team except for Forest will race in the super-combined event on Monday, before the giant slalom race takes place on Tuesday.
FEB. 24, 2013 – IPC WORLD ALPINE SKIING CHAMPIONSHIPS – LA MOLINA, SPA – MEN’S AND LADIES’ SLALOM
For more information, go to http://www.paralympic.org/Events/LaMolina2013
Watch online: Go to the ParalympicSportTV YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/ParalympicSportTV for daily highlight reels from the 2013 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in La Molina, Spain.
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