Canada’s Para-Alpine ski team got off to a great start at Copper Mountain, Colorado last week as Arly Fogarty, newly moved to Whistler, won gold in the standing category of the giant slalom. Karolina Wisniewska was second for Canada, while Alison Jones of the U.S. was third.
None of the Canadian skiers made the podium in the sitting category, although Chantal Fowler was fourth.
Overall World Cup champions Kimberly Joines and Lauren Woolstencroft did not compete, instead heading to Europe for the first IPC Europa Cup events in Pitztal, Austria.
Is sitting male, Josh Dueck of Vancouver was third and Luke Donovan seventh. In standing, Whistler’s Matt Hallat was second to New Zealander Adam Hall, while Canadian Jeff Dickson picked up third in the category. Also for Canada, Morgan Perrin was sixth, Gabriel Perreault ninth, Jeffrey Foss 10 th and James Binsfeld 12 th .
In Austria, members of the national team competed in super G and super combined events.
As usual Lauren Woolstencroft took gold in the women’s standing category in both events. Visually impaired skier Viviane Forest, with guide Arnaud Rajchenbach, also won both events.
Visually impaired skier Kathleen Forestell and guide Lindsay Debou were fifth in the super combined and super G, while overall champion Chris Williamson and guide Nick Brush were second in the combined and super G.
With one medal under his belt, Matt Hallat is ready for the season.
“”This year I had more early season training than the last,” he said. “I was injured going into last season and it took a while to get going. This season I headed into November training healthy which allowed me to train more early on. I definitely feel the difference heading into the first races. I had a lot of confidence in my skiing going into the first races and I have event more coming out of them.”
With half a dozen other Canadian men racing at a high level in the standing category, Hallat will have his work cut out for him over the next season to get his Olympic berth. However, he’s happy to have the push as long as it’s from behind.
“With so many people vying for spots it keeps you on your toes each and every day,” he said. “It has been something to make sure I push to improve each and every day. Every training run we do now is a race, and it pushes you to excel each run. It has been great for me because it has me focus that much more on the task at hand.”
Hallat’s biggest improvement is in the technical events. Generally strong at speed events like downhill and super G, he now has second and third place results in GS and was off to a strong start on the slalom when he went off course.
“GS historically been my worst event, so finishing second and third are two great results for me and are very encouraging heading into the World Cup season,” he said.
“My World Cup goals this season are to finish in the top-10 overall with two top-five finishes. These are high goals for me, but ones that I feel are achievable. I chose these goals because when I look at the top-10 result from last season nine out of 10 guys in the top-10 had at least one podium performance. I feel like if I can be in the top-10 overall this puts me in a great place for next season where I hope to be a medal contender going into 2010.”
The Pique also asked Hallat if he was benefiting from the millions of dollars spent on research and development in the Own The Podium 2010 Top Secret program, which was created to give Canadian Olympians and Paralympians a technical advantage going into 2010. Hallat said he was benefiting, but, sworn to secrecy, he declined to say how.
“The programs in place are definitely making a difference,” he said. “Sorry, that’s all I got for you.”