Australian adaptive skiers flew the flag for their country today winning two gold medals and a bronze in the 100% Pure Winter Games International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Giant Slalom on the internationally rated course on the Hurdle at Coronet Peak today.
The Giant Slalom was the first event in the Winter Games NZ adaptive series and Technical Delegate Simon Wi Rutene says while it was a small field of 19 skiers the standard was high. The opportunity was also created for less experienced skiers to compete.
"The course on the Hurdle, finishing on the Eighth Basin, was quite challenging particularly over the rolls and there was some spectacular spills as well as some spectacular recoveries. These athletes are quite inspirational when you see what they are up against and the power they have. It’s quite incredible and it is great to have the adaptive events included in the Winter Games".
Current Australian Paralympian of the Year Cameron Rahles-Rahbula won the Men’s standing category starting as the top seed. He finished in a combined time of 1.31.58 ahead of Ralph Green of the USA who won the silver in 1.39.51 and bronze medallist Patrick Parnell, also of USA who completed the course in 1.48.51.
Rahles-Rahbula's team mate, 2010 Paralympian Melissa Perrine, clocked the fastest time in the women’s visually impaired category, with her guide Andrew Bor, winning in 1.51.29. "It was my first race at Coronet Peak and the hill is great and the course set was awesome. I loved it".
Perrine pipped defending Winter Games title holder, Great Britain’s Kelly Gallagher, and her guide Charlotte Evans who had to be content with the silver medal after crossing the finish in 1.53.56.
Third place and bronze medal went to Jae Rim Yang with her guide Ko Woon Ching in 2.10.32.
New Zealander Mary Fisher, better known as a paralympic swimmer, made her debut in the visually impaired race with her guide Ross James from the Remarkables Ski Area.
She competed after just five days on snow participating in a talent identification camp at Queenstown which is part of the Winter Games NZ legacy in conjunction with SPARC and Snow Sports NZ.
The Men’s sitting category created some exciting action with the gold medal going to Jong Seouk Park of Korea who competed at the 2010 Paralympic Games in Vancouver. He clocked 1.42.51 almost two seconds ahead of US Paralympic development team member Stephen Lawler who finished in 1.44.76. Third place was taken out by Australian Mark Soyer, who races on the IPC NorAm circuit in the USA, in 1.46.08.