Sarubbi's eighth place leads visually impaired skiers in giant slalom

March 16, 2010, 10:50 p.m. (ET)

WHISTLER CREEKSIDE, B.C., Canada (March 16, 2010) - Skiing in heavy rain and light fog, which caused fogged lenses and further impaired her vision, Caitlin Sarubbi (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and her guide Gwynn Watkins (Mt. Shasta, Calif.), who were in 11th place following the first run, put together an impressive second run to take seventh place in Tuesday's visually impaired giant slalom at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Whistler, Canada.

"I had some trouble on the first run," said Sarubbi following her second and final run. "My goggles fogged up right at the start, so I was trying to deal with that, trying to keep my technique at the same time. It wasn't a super clean run, but I made up some time in the second run. It was a lot better and I'm just happy with it. I'm happy to end on a better note.

"I really had to concentrate on her voice and when she was telling me to switch and stuff," Sarubbi added in a nod to her guide. "I wouldn't have been able to do it at all without her. I'm really appreciative."

Also competing today in the giant slalom were Danelle Umstead (Taos, N.M. / Park City, Utah), following her guide and husband Rob Umstead (Taos, N.M. / Park City, Utah). After skiing strong through most of the gates, Danelle Umstead fell towards the bottom of the course. After hiking back up to the gate, she completed the run and the duo finished in ninth place.  

"It's been a pretty tough day for us," commented Danelle Umstead. "I fell. The snow was awesome. The course workers and everyone else did a great job keeping the course fantastic. What vision that I have, I really rely on, has been totally affected by the rain drops that totally take over my goggles. That has played a major role on why I fell and why I'm having a hard time today."

In the men's visually impaired giant slalom, Mark Bathum (Seattle, Wash.) and his guide Slater Storey (Sun Valley, Idaho) finished their first run in eight place, but found out later that they were disqualified for leaving the starting gate too late.

The Slovakian skiers Henrieta Farkasova and her guide Natalia Subrtova covered the two runs in 2:56.65 to earn the gold medal. Austria captured the women's visually impaired silver medal after Sabine Gasteiger and her guide Stefan Schoner, winners of the slalom gold, posted a combined time of 3:02.18 (+5.53); while slalom silver medalists Viviane Forest and her guide Lindsay Debou of Canada captured bronze today with a combined time of 3:11.17 (+14.52). Sarubbi and Watkins finished in 3:23.62 (+26.97), while the Umsteads completed their two runs in 3:41.64 (+44.99).

The men's medal winners finished in exactly the same order as they did in the slalom. Slovakia's Jakob Krako and his guide Juraj Medera claimed their second 2010 Paralympic gold with a combined time of 2:41.99. Spain's Jon Santacana Maiztegui and guide Miguel Galindo Garces were 1.09 behind with a combined time of 1:46.91 to claim silver; while bronze medalists Gianmaria Dal Maistro and his guide Tommaso Balasso from Italy finished at 1:48.32, trailing by 2.50 seconds.

All three of the USA's visually impaired alpine athletes are competing in their first Paralympic Winter Games, and will continue competition with the March 18 downhill. The Super-G is slated for March 19, and the Super Combined will be held on March 21. (NOTE: All race schedules are subject to change due to the weather.)

RESULTS: Visually Impaired Slalom

Slalom: Women's Visually Impaired

1. Henrieta Farkasova, guide: Natalia Subrtova (SVK), 2:56.65

2. Sabine Gasteiger, guide: Stefan Schoner (AUT), 3:02.18 (+5.53)

3. Viviane Forest, guide: Lindsay Debou (CAN), 3:11.17 (+14.52)

USA Athletes:

8. Caitlin Sarubbi (Brooklyn, N.Y.), guide: Gwynn Watkins (Mt. Shasta, Calif.), DNF (second run)

11. Danelle Umstead (Taos, N.M. / Park City, Utah), guide: Rob Umstead (Taos, N.M. / Park City, Utah),

Slalom: Men's Visually Impaired

1. Jakub Krako, guide: Juraj Medera (SVK), 2:41.99

2. Jon Santacana Maiztegui, guide: Miguel Galindo Garces (ESP), 2:42.20 (+0.21)

3. Gianmaria Dal Maistro, guide: Tommaso Balasso (ITA), 2:44.25 (+2.26)

USA Athletes:

DQ - Mark Bathum (Seattle, Wash.), guide: Slater Storey (Sun Valley, Idaho)