Sella Nevea, ITA (Jan. 30, 2019) – Canada’s Kurt Oatway (Calgary/Regina Alpine Race Team – Saskatchewan Alpine) raced to silver in the downhill on Wednesday at the 2019 IPC World Para-Alpine Skiing Championships, which have transitioned to Sella Nevea, Italy, for the speed events.
The podium performance was a redemption of sorts for Oatway, who suffered a season-ending injury in downhill training at the 2017 Worlds in Tarvisio, Italy, when he came off a feature having already started turning mid-air; when the snow had settled, Oatway was left with a broken left radius as a result of the crash.
“It was a little bit of redemption – satisfaction – coming back to world champs and getting a medal,” said Oatway, who used the morning’s training run to work out some kinks before tackling the medal race on Wednesday afternoon. “I kind of played it safe in a few places, at the cost of a little bit of speed. There’s more time (to be shed) on the hill for sure for me, but second place is good – I want to try to take that confidence, and go forward tomorrow in the super-G.”
Weather had forced the cancellation of previously scheduled downhill training runs earlier this week, and created a scheduling shuffle. In the end, the racers had the one training run for downhill on the same day they raced for medals.
Oatway and the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team took the changes in stride. “You do dryland, try to stay active and moving. Our strength and conditioning coach is great for that. Go over course in your head,” he said about how he and his teammates kept occupied. “This is ski racing – you can’t fight Mother Nature, you have to deal with what she gives you.”
Both the men and women fit in the training and downhill race on Wednesday following long hours of work put in by the coaches and organizing committee to ensure the course was ready for action. In the men’s standing event, Alexis Guimond (Gatineau, Que./Club de ski Mont-Tremblant) finished seventh, while Braydon Luscombe (Duncan, B.C./B.C. Para-Alpine) finished 10th.
“I had a good approach, I had a good line, but I caught an inside edge and really struggled to get back on the pace,” said Guimond, who was seventh in the giant slalom at Worlds last week. “That mistake cost me a really good run. After that, it was just about keeping up my speed and staying in the race.”
On the women’s side, Frédérique Turgeon (Candiac, Que./Club de ski Bromont) finished fourth after having a stellar training run in which she placed second. Alana Ramsay (Calgary/CADS Alberta) opted not to start in the downhill after crashing in the training earlier in the day; Ramsay was not injured in the incident.
“I feel like my race went well today. There were some little mistakes at the top part of the course, and obviously I could have pushed a little more at the bottom. But it’s so close to the podium. I’m very happy with what I did,” said the 19-year-old who has collected two World Cup wins and a World Championships’ silver over the last three weeks, all in slalom. “I have some things to work on, but I’m overall very happy (with how I skied).”
The speed events are set to conclude on Thursday with the super-G followed by a slalom in the afternoon which, combined with the morning’s super-G run, will make up the super combined. All events are being live-streamed on the CPC Facebook Page, the CBC Gem app, with select races available at radio-canada.ca/sports. For a full schedule of the Paralympic Super Series events available through streaming coverage, please visit CBCSports.ca.