New Zealand Paralympian, Adam Hall achieved a career first when he won a second gold medal at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ IPC Adaptive Slalom World Cup series at Coronet Peak today reinforcing his gold medal win in the same event yesterday.
Conditions for the World Cup race on the Rocky Gully Race Arena were hard and slick with 19 of the 42 competitors knocked out of the race in the first run on the demanding 50-gate course.
In the men’s standing category world number seven Hall was the favourite after his gold medal performance in the first event yesterday. But he was beaten in the first run by world number 12, Australia’s Toby Kane, who clocked 44.50 to Hall’s 46.92. In the second run Kane skied out at the top of the course and Hall came home the winner in 1.33.46. Mitchell Gourley of Australia, ranked fifth in the world, was second in 1.37.15 and James Stanton of USA, ranked 31, took out third place in 1.39.56.
“This is a first for me to win back-to-back golds,” said Hall. “Obviously it’s been a really important result for me and to do it at home is very special. The Winter Games has been a very important event for our sport providing excellent competition for a world class field on a world class course,” said Hall.
World number 8, Tyler Walker of the USA blitzed the men’s sitting category winning in 1.41.00 ahead of teammates Heath Calhoun, ranked 18th, in 1.53.69 and 17th-ranked Jasmin Bambur in 1.55.75. Walker was modest about his victory: “It’s early in the season and my focus is on World Cup training in the lead up to Sochi. But I am happy to win the gold today.”
New Zealand’s Corey Peters, ranked 37, had to make a recovery on both runs on gates close to the finish line and was placed fifth overall in the sitting section, following his silver medal win yesterday.
The men’s visually impaired world number one, Spain’s Yon Santacana Maizetegui and his guide Garces Galindo, displayed their top class form with a clear win in 1.35.06 ahead of world number 17, Alessandro Daldoss and his guide Davide Riva, in 1.48.83.
It was back-to-back gold medals for USA’s Stephani Victor in the women’s sitting category. The world number four skied two unbeatable runs clocking a combined time of 2.07.71. Seventh ranked Laurie Stephens of the USA won her second silver of the series in 2.32.12.
American Danielle Umstead and her husband and guide Robert, ranked eighth, won the women’s visually impaired category in 2.08.89 ahead of world number five, Jade Etherington and her guide Caroline Powell who scored 2.11.81. Third place went to the 11th ranked Korean, Jae Rim Yang and her guide Ji Youl Lee in 2.14.81.
Danielle Umstead was upbeat about their win: “We have had other World Cup gold medals but this is our first in slalom. This has been an incredible event for us after winning the silver yesterday.”
Alexandra Starker of Canada, number six in the world in the women’s standing category, was impressive in both runs scoring a fast combined time of 1.56.86. Starker headed off world number 17, Ursula Pueyo Marimon of Spain in 2.05.07, and world number 16 and yesterday’s gold medal winner, Melanie Schwartz of US, who took out third in 2.27.19.
Nineteen-year-old Starker was elated with her win: “This is the first win for me at a World Cup and I am so excited about the result. I fell in yesterday’s race so it feels great to redeem myself.”
Great Britain’s Heather Mills, ranked 28, who won the silver medal yesterday in the women’s standing category fell at the top of the course in her first run today but was pleased with her results from the first slalom, which will lower her world ranking as part of her quest for selection for the Sochi Olympics.
“I also want to thank the Winter Games volunteers who were so prepared to come out and help us. It has been a great experience,” she said.
The Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2013 continues tomorrow (Saturday) with the FIS Snowboard Halfpipe World Cup semi-finals and finals at Cardrona. The Downtown Sessions festival continues with ‘Blues, Brews and BBQs’ from 10am-3pm at Remarkables Park’s Red Barn in Frankton (free entry) plus the Adventure Film Festival presented by Auckland Airport which has shifted venues for the weekend to the Lotto Village Queenstown. The second race of the Winter Games NZ cyclocross series, which includes the NZ National Championships alongside age group and ‘all-comers’ categories, takes place in Wanaka and there is entertainment, live music and medal ceremonies at the Lotto Villages in both towns.