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LA MOLINA, SPA. (FEB. 21, 2013) — Chris Williamson won his second straight medal at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Alpine World Skiing Championships on Thursday, fighting his way to a second-place finish in men’s super-G and adding a silver medal to the bronze he won in Wednesday’s downhill.
The veteran Canadian racer from Toronto, Ont., who skis with guide Robin Fémy, of Mont-Tremblant, Que., in the visually impaired category, has made no secret of his desire to medal in every event at the world championships in La Molina.
“I’m getting closer to achieving my goal. One step higher,” Williamson said. “I was skiing strong, and at the end of the day I think everything went really well for me. It shows we’re progressively moving up.”
Williamson, who finished with a time of one minute 11.65 seconds, was the 2009 world champion in super-G and won silver in 2011. In Thursday’s race, the only thing standing between him and the gold medal was Spain’s Yon Santacana, who won on home turf (1:10.49) to defend his 2011 world championship super-G title.
“Chris skied really well,” said para-alpine head coach Jean-Sébastien Labrie. “Rob (Fémy) did a great job in front of him. They did an excellent job for the silver medal. Again they missed to Santacana on the flat part of the course, but the top went really well.”
Santacana and Williamson have skied against each other for years and are constantly battling for top spot on the podium.
“It’s always been a rivalry with Santacana for the longest time,” Williamson said. “We’re good friends off the race course, but on the race course we are definitely rivals.”
Williamson is competing in every event at world championships, so in order to achieve his goal of medaling in all of the races he must add to his downhill and super-G medals by reaching the podium in the upcoming slalom, giant slalom, and super-combined events.
To help maintain a competitive frame of mind, Williamson follows a set of lucky rituals at every race.
“I always talk to the starter, even if they can’t understand me,” Williamson said, laughing. “And in the gate before we leave I tell Rob to have fun. That’s our start ritual. For speed I always wear certain speed gloves. I only wear them during races – I don’t train in them and I don’t wear them after the race. That’s another one of my little quirks.”
Williamson’s teammate, sit-skier Kimberly Joines, was agonizingly close to being on the podium for a second day in a row, when she slipped near the bottom of the super-G course and crashed. Joines, from Rossland, B.C., was not injured. She won silver in Wednesday’s downhill on a course with a long flat section, which favours her style of skiing, but the super-G win went to Austria’s Claudia Leosch.
“I was feeling pretty excited about it,” Joines said. “The flat was kind of perfect for me, and I think I had a pretty decent run, but I couldn’t hold onto it at the fast part with the big compression towards the bottom of the course. I started to slip sideways and had to pull a bit of a maneuver to not have a really big crash, so I still crashed about four gates before the finish and sadly I couldn’t complete the whole run.”
Fellow sit-skier Josh Dueck, from Kimberley, B.C., was also skiing strong, Labrie said, but a slight skid on two turns cost him a podium finish. Dueck finished tied for sixth place (1:14.81) with Japan’s Kenji Natsume, and was just 1.32 seconds off of the winning time set by Taiki Morii, also from Japan (1:13.49). The sit-ski results were incredibly close, with only two tenths of a second separating the third and first-place finishers. Akira Kano of Japan was third (1:13.69) and France’s Yohann Taberlet was second (1:13.50).
“It was a tight race for the sit-skiers and you couldn’t miss too many turns, but we saw some great, great skiing from Josh,” Labrie said.
Dueck wasn’t as glowing about his race, and said that although it was a beautiful day for skiing, he felt he didn’t ski his best. The former world downhill champion has been struggling to place near the top of the sit-ski field this year, and spoke candidly about trying to get back to the type of competitive skiing he has shown in the past.
“I’m disappointed. I’m not super-satisfied with the way the day turned out, but that’s ski racing,” Dueck said. “It’s definitely getting a bit frustrating to have lost that competitive edge. There are probably a few factors responsible for that, but it’s definitely a bit of a drag these days going from being a contender to (the middle of the pack).
“Sixth is a step in the right direction, but it’s still pretty disappointing knowing that I can ski a lot better than that. I don’t ever like to use results as an indicator of how I ski, but I didn’t necessarily ski well today like I know I can, and that’s what’s really frustrating. If I skied well and placed sixth, that’s a different story. This is just the wrong time of the year to not have that groove in place. I’m just trying to weather the storm right now.
“On the plus side, Europe is amazing, the weather is beautiful, and the race crew here has done a phenomenal job.”
Terrace, B.C.’s Caleb Brousseau, who skis alongside Dueck in the men’s sitting category, was having a good run when he was flagged down and forced to stop. A fallen racer further down the course caused the delay, and Brousseau had to ride the lift and wait nearly an hour to race again. When he resumed racing, he finished 11th (1:16.01).
Mac and Billy Joe Marcoux, who are skiing in their first world championships in the men’s visually impaired category, had trouble following the course line in places, but showed they have what it takes to be successful, said Labrie. The brothers, from Sault Ste-Marie, Ont. placed eighth (1:14.68) – up three spots from their 11th-place finish in Wednesday’s downhill.
“They could have been better, but they were a bit lost on the track. I think a lack of experience explained that, but they skied well in many sections. They have the level of intensity; they just need the experience.”
“Overall, I think we’re going in the right direction,” Labrie said. “The level of skiing is getting better.”
Next up for the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team is Saturday’s slalom (see revised race schedule below).
FEB. 21, 2013 – LA MOLINA, SPA – IPC ALPINE WORLD SKIING CHAMPIONSHIPS – MEN’S AND LADIES’ SUPER-G
Video courtesy of ParalympicSportTv: http://www.youtube.com/paralympicsporttv
Thursday, February 21 – Super-G
Saturday, February 23 – Slalom
Monday, February 25 – Super combined
Tuesday, February 26 – Giant slalom
Wednesday, February 27 – Team event
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. Be sure to watch the Snow Blogger interviews with Canadian athletes Kimberly Joines and Chris Williamson.
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