|Team USA's Andrew Kurka wins gold, with Chris Devlin-Young in third at the Panorama world cup.
PANORAMA, B.C. – Mark Bathum and Andrew Kurka won gold for Team USA on the first day of downhill competition at the International Paralympic Committee Alpine Skiing World Cup at Panorama Mountain Village today.
In the men’s sitting division, Kurka (Anchorage, Alaska) notched his first ever world cup win at only 21 years old.
“It feels really great to win in what is really only my third international competition,” Kurka said. “I’m just hoping to carry this through to Sochi. There are still more races here this week, so I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I’m feeling really good.”
2010 Paralympic downhill silver medalist Bathum (Mercer Island, Wash.)and his guide Cade Yamamoto won gold in the men’s visually impaired race. Bathum has been on a roll this season, with four wins earlier in December at the Copper Mountain NorAm Cup.
Four-time Paralympian Chris Devlin-Young (Bethlehem, N.H.) also made a trip to the podium as he finished close behind Kurka to take bronze in the men’s sitting downhill.
In her first world cup competition since tearing three ligaments in her shoulder last summer, three-time Paralympic gold medalist Alana Nichols (Farmington, N.M.) won silver in the women’s sitting downhill. Reigning downhill world champion Laurie Stephens (Wenham, Mass.) was close behind Nichols to take bronze.
Danelle Umstead and guide Rob Umstead (Park City, Utah) finished third in the women’s visually impaired field, while Allison Jones (Colorado Springs, Colo.) won bronze in the women’s standing race.
“This was definitely a situation where our training runs got better each day,” said Kevin Jardine, high performance director for U.S. Paralympics alpine skiing. “Our athletes were ready to race today in spite of some difficult terrain that took out a few athletes today. Maybe we didn’t ski the best we could today, but we skied better than our competition, and that is all that matters.”
The Panorama world cup features more than 70 athletes from 13 countries and runs through Tuesday, Jan. 14. Team USA will have a quick turnaround with the next IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup slated for Jan. 17-20 in Copper Mountain, Colo.
At each world cup event, athletes will earn points that help determine world rankings and qualification for 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.
Complete results and more information are available at Paralympic.org.
For more information, please contact Katie Branham, U.S. Paralympics, at 719-866-3302 or Katie.Branham@usoc.org.