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Disabled ski team on the road

Whistler skiers look for continued improvement on road to 2006



Obviously jet lag wasn’t much of a factor against the Canadian Disabled Alpine Ski Team.

The team wrapped up a Whistler training camp last Wednesday, Jan. 18, then immediately headed to the opening World Cup events at Yong Pyeong, Korea, some 17 hours ahead.

Despite two days of intense travelling and some unexpected delays, a pair of Canadian skiers found the podium.

Lauren Woolstencroft of Victoria and Calgary took the silver medal in the women’s standing slalom, between Allison Jones of the U.S. and Iveta Chlebakova of Slovakia.

In the men’s visually impaired slalom, skier Chris Williamson and guide Bobby Taylor earned the bronze medal behind Radomir Dudas and guide Maros Hudik of Slovakia, and Erik Villalon Fuentes and guide Yurrita Hodei of Spain.

Other skiers also came close to earning medals.

Sit skier Kimberly Jones finished well back of the podium after going off course in her second run, but is obviously on track for another great year after posting the top time in the first run.

Scott Patterson finished seventh in the men’s sit ski category.

Matt Hallat, who lives and trains in Whistler part-time, finished 12 th among standing skiers.

The following day Canada earned two more medals in the giant slalom. Joines put two runs together to win silver, while Woolstencroft claimed a gold.

"Every day counts and it is evident that the physical and mental preparation we have been doing is paying off," said CDAST head coach Leslie Clarke.

Both Hallat and Brad Lennea, another Whistler athlete, would agree. Both are relatively new to the team, and both have qualified for the Paralympics – Lennea in giant slalom and Hallat in all four disciplines. They have modest goals for this year’s Olympics, but as long as they continue to show improvement from week to week they’re on track for 2010.

"The Paralympics are always back-of-mind, but we’re always focused on the next event. We’re really taking it one step at a time," said Hallat, who hails from Coquitlam but "crashes on Brad’s couch about 200 days a year."

"We’re looking at refining technique," he added. "There are a lot of little things you learn from racing that you can’t get in training if you’re paying attention."

For the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games, his goal is to be in the top-15 of every discipline. "That’s what I’m shooting for at the moment, and to be more consistently in the top-15. I’m continuing to improve with every race, which is encouraging, and by the time 2010 rolls around I’m looking to be a contender.