Evan Strong wins gold on seven-medal day

By Katie Branham | Jan. 19, 2014, 10:30 p.m. (ET)

Evan Strong led the way for a 1-2 U.S. finish in the men's snowboard cross.

COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. – Evan Strong and Mike Shea battled for the gold as Strong edged his teammate and competitor to win the men’s snowboard cross event at the International Paralympic Committee Alpine Skiing and Para-Snowboard World Cup at Copper Mountain Resort, Colo. on Sunday.

Strong (Nevada City, Calif.) led the way for a seven-medal day for Team USA, with five medals in the snowboard cross competition and two medals in the alpine skiing slalom race.

Strong and Shea (Castaic, Calif.) battled back and forth in the men’s lower limb impairment class, with only nine-hundredths of a second separating the pair. The U.S. teammates clocked the four fastest times of the day, with Strong’s two best runs giving him a time of 1:22.40 to Shea’s 1:22.49. This is the second consecutive day on the podium for both athletes after Shea won yesterday’s world cup, and Strong took second.

“It’s always good to have a great result here on my home mountain at Copper,” Strong said. “It feels good to shake off the cobwebs and get back up to race speed after a long summer, and it feels really good to have the results follow.”

After taking the runner-up spot yesterday, Marc Dervaes (West Chester, Pa.) was in top form today to take the gold in the men’s upper limb impairment race. Dervaes clocked the two fastest times of the day to give him a combined result of 1:32.00 to secure the win by more than three seconds. Fatu Matagi (Salt Lake City, Utah) made the podium for the second day as he finished second in 1:43.25.

Heidi Jo Duce (Ouray, Colo.) improved on her third place finish from yesterday to take the runner-up spot in the women’s lower limb impairment race. Duce’s two best runs were 52.51 and 54.70, for a combined time of 1:47.21 to secure the silver medal by nearly a second. 

In the alpine skiing races, seven-time Paralympic medalist Allison Jones (Colorado Springs, Colo.) finished on the podium for the second day in a row. Jones won bronze in the women’s standing slalom race after finishing as the runner-up in the first day of slalom competition.

2010 Paralympic Winter Games Opening Ceremony flag bearer Heath Calhoun (Clarksville, Tenn.) made his first podium of the Copper Mountain world cup. After the first run of slalom, Calhoun sat in fourth place, but a quick second run was enough to move him up to second in the men’s sitting slalom competition.

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.

Competition in the alpine skiing world cup will conclude tomorrow with the final day of giant slalom racing. Team USA’s snowboarders will be back in action at Big White, B.C. for their third world cup of the season.

The U.S. team that will compete in alpine skiing at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games will be named in February. Snowboard cross will make its Paralympic debut as part of the alpine skiing program at the Winter Games.

Complete results and more information are available at Paralympic.org.

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