COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. – Team USA’s Allison Jones (Colorado Springs, Colo.) showed her dominance once again at the International Paralympic Committee Alpine Skiing NorAm Cup today at Copper Mountain, Colo., adding a gold medal in slalom to her already-impressive collection this week.
Jones, who hopes to compete at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, is undefeated so far at Copper Mountain NorAm, as Wednesday’s gold is her fifth straight in the women’s standing division.
Though Jones is approaching the NorAm as more of a training opportunity than a high-stakes race, she said every success on the mountain is a step closer to her goal of competing at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
“It was the first day in the series for slalom, so it was nice to get out there and get some practice starts,” Jones said. “It’s good to get it under the belt and ready for Russia. It’s one less day of training that’s left. Every run counts and every run is something you’ve got to focus on and use for training towards Russia.”
Laurie Stephens (Wenham, Mass.) also added to her accolades Wednesday with a silver medal in the women’s sitting division. Stephens has medaled in all of her events at the NorAm thus far, earning two golds in super-G and two silvers in giant slalom earlier this week.
The men’s sitting athletes performed well too. Army veteran Heath Calhoun (Clarksville, Tenn.) came away with a silver medal and Tyler Walker (Franconia, N.H.) was close behind with a bronze. Jasmin Bambur (Granby, Colo.) had his best race of the week, finishing just outside of the podium in fourth place.
Calhoun said he exceeded his expectations Wednesday in a discipline that is not generally his strength.
“I have always not been a slalom skier, so to get out there and do well, I’m really happy about that,” Calhoun said. “My slalom has really come around since last year. You know, I’m excited. I figured it was something I would go do and not have much of a shot in, and now I’m feeling like I’ve got a bit more of a shot in it.”
In the women’s visually-impaired classification, 17-year-old Staci Mannella (Randolph, N.J.) and guide Kim Seevers (Averill Park, N.Y.) raced to a bronze medal. Following the race, Mannella found out she had been accepted to Dartmouth College, where she had applied early decision for the fall semester. She is the youngest member of the U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing National Team.
Mark Bathum (Seattle, Wash.), who was undefeated in super-G and giant slalom earlier this week in the men’s visually-impaired classification, was disqualified for a gate violation in slalom on Wednesday.
Team USA has earned 27 medals in total thus far at Copper Mountain, with one day of competition remaining. A second set of slalom races is set for Thursday, the sixth and final day of competition. The next IPC Alpine Skiing NorAm is set for Jan. 1-3, 2014, in Winter Park, Colo.
While the NorAm is not a world cup, athletes will earn points that help determine world rankings and qualification for IPC Alpine Skiing World Cups and Paralympic events. Scoring is based on finishing place, with athletes aiming for as few points as possible. To qualify for world cups and ultimately the Paralympic Winter Games in each discipline, athletes must remain under a certain point threshold.
The U.S. team that will compete in alpine skiing at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games will be named in February.
For more information, please contact Katie Branham, U.S. Paralympics, at 719-237-9407 or Katie.Branham@usoc.org.