By Dan Walton
There were no first-place finishes for any Canadian athletes last week, but several home-grown para-skiers made podium finishes at the 2014 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Cup at Panorama Mountain Village.
One participating Canadian whos already qualified for this years Canadian paralympic team is Josh Dueck, a silver medallist at the 2010 Paralympics in Vancouver. During the Mens Super-G sitting races on Tuesday, January 14th, Josh notched a time just 0.54 seconds behind the first-place finisher.
Josh told The Pioneer about the variable conditions that many Canadians have become accustomed to at Panorama.
One day it was snowing, the next day it was sunny, one day it was icy, the next day it was powder; the variety, I thought, was really interesting, and it didnt hurt me at all, he said. Race organizers nimbly re-organized events to keep the races going on Sunday.
Between January 8th and 14th, para-alpine athletes were racing down the Oldtimer and Skyline runs at Panorama during the resorts international competition, which involved 20 countries. The stakes are huge this year, as it was one of the final races for athletes from each nation to qualify for the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
The awards ceremonies at the central village were well-attended, as the grounds were able to comfortably accommodate the crowd regardless of their physical needs.They do a fantastic job making sure that the athletes are looked after, said Alpine Canada director of events Pete Bosinger. While impressed by the resorts ability to accommodate the athletes, Mr. Bosinger had higher expectations of the Canadian athletes.
Alpine Canada knows that Canadians are capable of more podiums, but its early in the season and we did get some podiums, he said.
One of the Canadian hopefuls is 19-year-old Alexandra Starker from Calgary, whose expertise on skis was largely crafted at Panorama having grown up with a second home in the valley. Alexandra competed in races on Friday, January 10th, where she posted a total time of 1:50.79 after two heats of Downhill Standing races, earning 29 World Cup points with a ninth-place finish.
The next stop for the World Cup athletes is Copper Mountain in Colorado, starting today, Friday, January 17th.