CANADA’S PARA-ALPINE ATHLETES FOCUS ON WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS AHEAD OF SEASON-OPENER IN CROATIA
Nation’s highly decorated athletes looking to maintain success in World Championship season
Calgary, Alta. (Jan. 15, 2019) – Canada’s highly decorated Para-Alpine Ski Team is looking to keep their success rolling as most skip the season-opening World Cup races this week, to focus on to the World Championship in Slovenia and Italy Jan. 21 – Feb. 1, 2019.
The team is building off 10 Paralympic medals at the 2018 Games in PyeongChang, with four of its six World Cup team racers and three NextGen racers scheduled to compete at the World Championship. The opening races of the World Cup season were originally scheduled for Dec. 2018, but a lack of snow forced their cancellation meaning this week’s races will be the team’s first match-up opportunity before Worlds.
“The cancellations were disappointing since we won’t have any speed races before the World Championship, but while it makes it difficult to really know where we stand (against the competition), that makes this month more exciting in a way,” said head coach Jean-Sebastien Labrie. “With what we’ve seen so far in training and Europa Cup racing, we are confident our racers will continue their successful path from the Games last year.”
The World Cup season opens in Zagreb, CRO, with men’s and women’s slalom races scheduled on Jan. 16 and 17. Live streams of those races, and of the World Para-Alpine Skiing Championship Jan. 21-Feb. 1, are available on the CPC Facebook Page, the CBC Gem app, and selective races will be available at radio-canada.ca/sports. For a full schedule of the Paralympic Super Series events available through streaming coverage, please visit CBCSports.ca.
Season preview: Canada’s Para-Alpine Ski Team
Alana Ramsay (Calgary/CADS Alberta), a two-time Paralympian, earned her first Paralympic medals in PyeongChang, racing to bronze in both the super-G and super combined. Second overall in the World Cup standings, Ramsay will be looking to carry that momentum into this season as she looks to match or improve on a stellar four-podium performance at the 2017 World Championship.
Alexis Guimond (Gatineau, Que./Club de ski Mont-Tremblant) has notched a bronze medal at both the 2017 World Championship and at the 2018 Paralympic Games in his relatively young career as part of the national team. Born in Houston, TX, and raised in Quebec, Guimond has earned six World Cup podium results over two seasons.
Braydon Luscombe (Duncan, B.C./B.C. Para-Alpine) is a two-time Paralympian who reached the World Cup Final podium last season with a third-place finish in the downhill on home soil in Kimberley, B.C.. The 2013 National Giant Slalom Champion has posted consistent top-10 results in World Cup racing since his debut with the team.
2018 Paralympic Super-G Champion, Kurt Oatway (Calgary/Regina Alpine Race Team & Saskatchewan Alpine), is no stranger to international success. In addition to his Paralympic gold medal, Oatway’s hardware includes the 2015 Crystal Globe in downhill and numerous gold, silver, and bronze medals in World Cup and World Cup Finals racing. Unable to compete at the 2017 World Championship due to injury, Oatway will be looking to improve on two top-10 performances earned at the 2015 Worlds.
Four-time Paralympic medallist and winner of the 2018 IPC Crystal Globe in super-G, downhill, and overall, Mac Marcoux (Sault-Ste. Marie, Ont./Searchmont Ski Runners) will be forced out of competition for the World Cup opener and the 2019 World Championship due to a back injury suffered in training early last month. He continues to rehab with his physio, with the goal of ensuring Marcoux is healthy before resuming a competitive schedule. Marcoux and guide Tristan Rodgers (Ottawa/Club de ski Mont-Tremblant) remain focused on their long-term goals heading into Beijing 2022 and beyond, and will be ready to return to competition once Marcoux has fully recovered.
Paralympic medallist and 2018 IPC Crystal Globe super-G champion Mollie Jepsen (West Vancouver, B.C./Whistler Mountain Ski Club) announced earlier this month that she will be adjusting her training and racing schedule this year following her diagnosis of Crohn’s disease during the off-season. Jepsen, 19, took home four Paralympic medals in 2018, including a gold medal in the super combined. She attended a training camp in Chile over the summer, and found herself in hospital where she was diagnosed with Crohn’s – one of the most serious inflammatory bowel diseases – just days after returning home from camp.
In addition, NextGen Team athletes Alex Cairns (Squamish, B.C./B.C. Adaptive Snow Sports), Frederique (Fred) Turgeon (Candiac, Que./Club de ski Bromont), and Mel Pemble (Victoria, B.C./B.C. Adaptive Snow Sports) will be looking to gain World Cup experience at select events this season.
“We expect to see more podium performances this season, and our NextGen Team is beginning to show they are closing the gap with the best on the World Cup circuit, which is encouraging as we build depth for the program,” said Labrie. “We are confident in the training and progress of our athletes during this preparation period, and are excited to get the racing underway.”