ST. MORITZ, SUI (Jan. 14, 2013) — The youngest skier on the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team’s start list turned out to be its brightest star during Monday’s International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Cup giant slalom in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Mac Marcoux, a fifteen-year-old visually-impaired prospect athlete with the team, captured silver at the race, giving him his second career podium finish on the IPC World Cup circuit. Marcoux, from Sault Ste Marie, Ont,, appeared in his first-ever World Cup race just last week in Sestriere, Italy.
“Overall the race went really well. It was fast, fun, and the course was pretty simple,” Marcoux said. “Things felt a little bit slow coming out of the gate, but after the first flats and pitch we gained a lot of speed and were able to keep it going until the finish.”
Marcoux was forced to make some last-minute adjustments before the race when he was assigned a guide he had never raced with previously. Marcoux is usually guided by his older brother, Billy Joe Marcoux, who fell during Sunday’s giant slalom and was sidelined for the remaining races in St. Moritz. Instead, Mac skied with Robin Fémy (teammate Chris Williamson’s regular guide) in Monday’s race. Williamson was given a rest day after also falling during Sunday’s giant slalom and straining his back slightly.
Mac hasn’t had the opportunity to train regularly with guides other than Billy Joe, explained IPC World Cup coach Sven Pouliot, so finishing second with a two-run combined time of one minute, 58:37 seconds was a positive result.
“I have to give big kudos to Robin. Robin is someone who we had full confidence in because of his experience as a ski racer. He did a great job of communicating with Mac and giving him confidence. We could see they were communicating well right off of the inspection run, which was really good to see.”
After not finishing the course on Sunday when Billy Joe fell, Mac said he tried to focus on how he was skiing earlier in that race to pump himself up for Monday’s giant slalom.
“I just told myself I knew I was skiing well, and to just give it another shot. I was expecting (racing with Fémy) to be a bit different, and maybe having trouble communicating, but it actually went really well. We had one free-ski run before the race, and then we just went for it.”
Another Canadian athlete with a promising performance was Alexandra Starker, who finished sixth (2:13.89) in the standing category against a competitive field. Sitting in third place after her first run, Starker, from Calgary, Alta., pushed for a speedy second run but didn’t make it onto the podium.
“The girls were all very hungry and raced hard, so she was not able to get in there,” Pouliot said. “When you look at the field of women who are racing against her, they all have a lot of experience on the world circuit. She is progressively improving and we’re excited about her racing.”
Men’s standing skier, Morgan Perrin, placed 15th (2:03.43). The Vancouver, B.C.-based athlete had two technically strong runs, Pouliot said.
“The results don’t necessarily show what he can do. Overall we are happy and looking forward to see what he can do in the slalom.”
Fellow standing skier, Braydon Luscombe, of Duncan, B.C., was given a day of rest on Monday and didn’t race. Sit-skiers Kimberly Joines, from Rossland, B.C., and Caleb Brousseau, from Terrace, B.C., both did not finish their first runs, with Caleb falling just three gates from the finish.
Josh Dueck, a sit-skier from Kimberley, B.C., finished 15th (2:13:02). Although Dueck – who was the national giant slalom champ from 2007-10 – hasn’t been near the top of the results list lately, both Dueck and his coaches said he is improving with every run and is getting closer to working his way back to the top.
“We’ve made some pretty significant changes in every aspect of my skiing – from my equipment and my technique, to how I’m approaching things,” Dueck said. “Sometimes change isn’t easy, and right now we’ve been finding it’s a pretty big task to get a hold of everything we’ve been doing.
“Today I felt like I had some pretty good gains. Everyone out here is racing at their top level, which is really nice to see; the field is really strong and tight. Although the results don’t say so on paper, I really feel like I’m close to getting right there at that level. I think once I hit that next gear I’ll be right back in the mix again.”
“At times it can be a little embarrassing when the results aren’t right where you want them, but at the same time I don’t get discouraged because I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and I know these changes are going to be really beneficial when we get them sorted out.”
Dueck gained worldwide attention last year after becoming the first person to complete a backflip in a sit-ski. Video footage of the jump caught the interest of celebrity talk show host Ellen Degeneres, who invited Dueck on her show to talk about his experiences. The feat also earned him a nomination for National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year contest, alongside the likes of Austrian base jumper Felix Baumgartner, who recently broke the sound barrier with his free-fall from space.
Since the nomination, fans of Dueck have been busy casting their votes for the gregarious skier to win Adventurer of the Year. There are only two days left to vote for Dueck, as the contest closes on Jan. 16.
“This nomination has meant a lot to me because it’s National Geographic, but the way everyone has bonded over it has been pretty special,” Dueck said. “There are some loyal voters out there who have been so supportive. I’ve been lucky to always have a really good support network between by family and friends and the ski community, and this whole experience is just another great reminder of that. I’m so thankful for it.”
To vote for Dueck: http://adventure.nationalgeographic.com
JAN. 14, 2013 - IPC WORLD CUP - ST. MORITZ, SWITZERLAND - MEN'S GIANT SLALOM
JAN. 14, 2013 - IPC WORLD CUP - ST. MORITZ, SWITZERLAND - LADIES' GIANT SLALOM
The Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team will race slalom on Tuesday and Wednesday in St. Moritz, before returning to Canada for training in preparation for the IPC World Championships in La Molina, Spain, from Feb. 18-27.
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