KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia - Alana Nichols and Allison Jones led Team USA’s women with fourth place finishes in the giant slalom on the final day of competition at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
Only six days after crashing in the super-G and being transported off the mountain by helicopter, Nichols (Farmington, N.M.) returned to the slopes and jumped right back in the fight for the podium in the women’s sitting class. Nichols was in third after the first run, but she faltered on the second run when she caught an outrigger and spun around before continuing down the course. Nichols finished less than a second short of the podium in fourth place.
"It was awesome to get back on the slopes," Nichols said. "Today's race was just for me. I continued to just get back up and I gave it my best effort today. It's been a crazy ride, lots of ups and downs. I will remember my Russian hospital stay, I will remember my medal. Most of all, it has been really awesome to share with my friends, fans and family. People have been so supportive on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. My sisters were here, that was incredible. I have some great friends here too, overall I just feel really, really fortunate."
Jones (Colorado Springs, Colo.) was less than two seconds off the podium in the women’s standing class. After finishing the first run in seventh place, Jones clocked the third fastest time on the second run to finish fourth overall. Earlier in the week, Jones won bronze in the women’s downhill. Melanie Schwartz (Aspen, Colo.) finished 14th.
""This was all I could ask for on my last run," Jones said. "I looked at my coach Kevin [Jardine] at the start and told him this is the last run of my Paralympic career. He said then you better go out strong. I made some moves, some gutsy moves that cost a little bit, and I had to ride the edge of control and out of control. After these Games, I am retiring from winter and I am going on to Rio for my last summer."
Stephanie Jallen (Harding, Pa.) was in fifth after the first run but crashed on the second run and was unable to complete the course.
"I was a little disappointed that I didn't finish the last run, but I can't look at just that because of the stuff I pulled off earlier in the week, I had never expected any of it," Jallen said. "For that to have even happened, it will stay with me for a lifetime. I will learn from my mistakes I'll take what I got. I am more than happy with myself."
Laurie Stephens (Wenham, Mass.) also returned to the slopes in the women’s sitting class after missing the conclusion of the super combined due to illness. Stephens finished in sixth place after winning bronze in the downhill and super-G earlier in the Games.
Staci Mannella (Randolph, N.J.) and guide Kim Seevers (Averill Park, N.Y.) finished sixth in the women’s visually impaired race. In her Paralympic debut, Lindsay Ball (Benton, Maine) and guide Diane Barras (Bethel, Maine) got off to a strong start, but Ball fell coming off the lake jump and the pair were unable to finish the course.
"I have this first run issue where I don't ski that well, but the second run today was really good, the best run I had all week," Mannella said. "I am happy to end on a good note. I would have liked to have skied a lot better, I can ski a lot better, looking forward to doing it again in four years hopefully."
Over the nine days of alpine competition, the U.S. Alpine Skiing Team won 10 medals: four silver and six bronze medals. Standout performances included: 18-year-old Jallen had an outstanding showing in her first Games, winning bronze in the standing super combined and super-G; Army veteran Heath Calhoun (Bristol, Tenn.) winning his first Paralympic medal with silver in the super combined; and after only working together for two and a half months, Mark Bathum (Seattle, Wash.) and guide Cade Yamamoto (Quincy, Wash.) winning silver in the super combined and super-G.
For complete results and more information, visit Sochi2014.com.