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Para-Alpine team on winning track

Medals pile up at World Cup opener

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Canada’s Para-Alpine athletes never fail to deliver on the international stage, and the opening World Cup event of the 2007-2008 season was no exception.

The team headed to Abtenau, Austria in the New Year to kick off their international season. The team was missing a few athletes due to injuries, including Whistler’s Brad Lennea after he broke his jaw in training in December, but managed 14 medals in four days of racing.

On the first day, a slalom in the rain, World Cup champion Lauren Woolstencroft dominated in the women’s standing category to pick up her first gold medal of the week. Andrea Rothfuss of Germany was second, followed by Allison Jones of the U.S. Teammate Andrea Dziewior was sixth.

“I don’t think I’ve ever skied in such wet conditions, but luckily I started within the first racers,” said Woolstencroft. “It gives me a lot of confidence to win the first race on the tour and for the rest of this World Cup event. I’m on the right track to accomplish my goal of winning the overall globe again this year.”

In the women’s sitting race, Edmonton’s Kimberly Joines just missed the podium with a fourth place finish. Laurie Stephens of the U.S. was first, followed by Claudia Loesch of Austria and Anita Fuhrer of Switzerland.

In the visually impaired category, Chris Williamson of Ontario finished first overall — nothing new for Williamson, but it was significant as this was his first time racing with guide Nick Brush.

“We are hoping we’ll be able to carry the momentum over to Japan and the World Cup finals,” said Williamson.

Dudas Radomir of Slovakia, with guide Hudik Maros, placed second, followed by Jon Santacana of Spain.

In the women’s visually impaired race, the Canadian team of Carly Grigg and guide Julie-Christine Roy-Ruel did not finish.

In the men’s standing race, Gerd Schoenfelder of Germany placed first, followed by Hiraku Misawa of Japan and Roberts Meusburger of Austria. Whistler’s Michael Hallat qualified for a second run, but went off course.

In the sitting category, Josh Dueck did not finish his first run for Canada. Harald Eder and Andreas Kapfinger of Austria were first and third, while Martin Baxenthaler of Germany placed second.

The Canadians did even better in the giant slalom on day two, winning three races and placing third in another.

Lauren Woolstencroft won her second gold, edging out Andrea Rothfuss of Germany, and Melania Corradini of Italy. Teammate Arly Fogart placed fifth.

Chris Williamson and Nick Brush picked up their second gold, followed by the Slovakian team of Miroslav Haraus and guide Martin Makovnik, and Nicola Berejny of France.

Kimberly Joines — always better in the events where speed is a factor — placed first in the women’s sitting category, ahead of Claudia Loesch of Austria and Tatsuko Aoki of Japan.

The fourth medal went to Carl Grigg and guide Roy-Ruel, placing third behind teams from Austria and Belgium.

In the sitting category, Josh Dueck placed 17 th . In standing, Morgan Perrin was 17 th and Matt Hallat 26 th .

In the super G, Arly Fogarty earned her first career World Cup podium with a third place finishing in the standing category, one spot back of teammate Lauren Woolstencroft. Andrea Rothfuss of Germany took the gold medal.

In visually impaired, Carly Grigg and Julie-Christine Roy-Ruel were third. Kimberly Joines picked up her second gold medal in the women’s sitting category.

On the men’s side, Chris Williamson and Nick Brush earned yet another gold medal in the visually impaired category. Josh Dueck was the top sit skier in ninth place, while Matt Hallat placed 13 th in the men’s standing race.

The last event of the contest was a super combined race, which combined the run in super G course with a second run on a slalom course.

Gold medals went to Woolstencroft, Joines and Williamson/Brush, while Grigg and Roy-Ruel placed third.

“We are very satisfied with our results in Abtenau, especially with the way our athletes skied,” said Sebastien Labrie, head coach of the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team. “We had great results from our veterans, and our young athletes learned a lot.

“We will now be able to look at technical and tactical aspects when back in Canada and come back even stronger.”

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